Becoming an Effective Team Member

All eyes seem to be looking for a strong leader. From the ballot box to the boardroom, we value and praise trustworthy leaders. While leadership skills are critical they are of little use without followers. Yes, the idea of being a follower is often frowned upon. But think about it: if everyone is a leader, nothing gets done. Talk about a waste of time, energy and money. Learning to be an effective follower is an invaluable skill that can help you in both your work and personal life.

So what does it take to be an effective follower? For starters, humility and the ability to be led. Critical thinking skills and active participation are also big components. Other habits effective followers practice are: adaptability, honesty, loyalty, and integrity. Effective followers identify with the goals of the leader and collaborate accordingly.

We spend the majority of our time in groups. Our work, family, friends, and neighborhoods represent some group settings. While we may possess leadership skills, there are countless benefits to developing our “followership skills” as well.

  • Complementarity – Becoming a good follower is learning how to be an effective team member. In a group setting, everyone has something valuable to bring to the table. Strengths and weaknesses balance out as each individual offers their unique skill set.
  • Community – Learning best occurs in shared environments. What better way to bond than through laughter or voicing frustrations with your fellow sojourners.
  • Increased Opportunities – Curious how others think or work? Humble followers can respect the differences of their fellow group members and learn from them.
  • Stronger Together – Working with others creates an environment of accountability and support. This power can motivate individuals to perform at a greater level of success than if alone. Satisfaction rates also increase dramatically with the encouragement of others.

Even if you’re a strong leader, becoming an effective follower will only improve your leadership skills. Understanding group dynamics, while valuing everyone’s role, will equip you to lead with success. And that’s a win for the whole team.


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