Follow the Leader - The Old Operator

posted on Feb 19 2020

As a young boy I spent many an hour playing a game called “follow the leader.” The point was to have your followers go over fences, through bushes, jump over objects and so forth. How exciting it became, much depended on the leader; yet also on the followers. If the leader wanted us to do dangerous, unsafe or bad things as the followers we refused.

Following is all about who is leading. We can’t all be followers and we can’t all be leaders. I suggest to you that most of us are both followers and leaders, if not at home, through sports, community, the arts or at work. When you think of this; it is a massive transition to be moving back and forth between the responsibility of a leader or a follower.

Don’t just lead well, follow well. A good leader draws on the knowledge and experience of the follower, allowing them the flexibility to be assertive and inventive.

When the union between leader and follower is in harmony,
it would be difficult to identify one from the other.

In life there are more employees than supervisors, more players than coaches and more readers than authors. It only stands to reason more of us will be followers than leaders. Here are a few tips on how to be a good effective follower:

  • Be informed of your leader’s character and how they operate.
  • Always be professional and respectful.
  • Be supportive and encouraging.
  • Be discerning. Should the leader make an error, display grace for a simple oversight. If a mistake, be tactful in your response using good judgement in pointing out the issue.
  • There are times as a follower when we need to be courageous. If the leader has made an unethical decision, truth is best served with humility and sincerity.
  • As a follower you need to be engaged, utilize your gifts to benefit the project; it will not only honor you but the leader.
  • You must be reliable; your word needs to be your bond, walk the talk, do what you say you will do.

Being a follower has responsibility and maybe, after all, following is just as important as leading. At least that’s how I see it, the Old Operator.

By Doug Thorson

This article was originally published in the Winter 2020 Issue #40 of the Alberta Utility Operator Newsletter.