In my previous article (part 1 of 3), I shared the following, “It’s simple, you have one of three choices, LEAD, FOLLOW, or GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY!”  I still hear those words as loud as the first time my U.S. Army Colonel father spoke them.

When is it time to follow? 

Why would you want to follow when you can lead?  Some feel that by not leading, you are putting yourself in a position of less strength.  Hogwash. 

The time to follow is most of the time.  You can’t lead in everything, nor do you want to. Let go of the control issues and recognize where your strengths are and how in some cases you need to also recognize others for their talents and skills so that you may work in tandem to move things further along.

My closest connections know me as the person who tends to plan many of my personal and professional events.  However, when it comes to getting together with a group of my friends, I simply ask, “Where may I be of service?”  If they say, “We got this,” then I become a follower and apply myself as asked.  It’s freeing.  These women are all leaders and I am happy to follow great leaders.

So many times, individuals put themselves in a role of, “I must be all things to all people, all of the time.”  Hogwash, again.   Step up when it’s your time to step up.  Otherwise, do yourself a favor and follow with a positive attitude, an observant eye, and a willing heart.

Here are 5 times to consider when to follow:

  1. You are still learning and there is an expert who is leading. Step aside – learn and support.
  2. You want to participate but are not willing to take on the consequences of full responsibility.  It’s all fun and games until it’s not, and although the saying is that “you know what” flows downhill, well, it blows up at the top!
  3. You have skills and talents that when added to the whole, makes for a much better whole.  It’s a thrill to be a part of a team that does well together.  It builds long lasting bonds and a sense of community.
  4. You have limited time to dedicate but still want to be part of the team and will dedicate what you have, when you can. When you show up 100%, when you say you will, that is far better than assuming responsibilities you are not prepared to backup with your time and talents. Others will respect your honesty and reliability, despite not being there all the time.
  5. When you are tired, lacking passion, strength, clarity.  It happens.  Ego and self-confidence plays a huge role in knowing when to lead and when to follow.  Ego is bullish and does not consider others in its actions.  Positive self-confidence can provide a good reflection of the truth and be a friend in allowing oneself to move with grace and honor in whatever role one assumes.

 

What does the individual, group, idea, etc. you are following represent in your life?  Look to where you can apply yourself as the best type of follower.  Leaders come and go but the legions of followers are what keeps things flowing.  Dedicate yourself to the things that matter to you most.  To follow takes the pressure off.  In our high-pressure world, that can be a great relief!

 

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