Mustang Leadership: Follow Before You Lead (Part 2)

Mustang Leadership: Follow Before You Lead (Part 2)

Welcome back to “Mustang Leadership,” an engaging blog series where you will gain valuable insights and practical advice on leadership. 

If you’re just starting, check out Part 1, “Build Your Leadership Foundation” below. 

One must master the art of following before they can truly excel in leadership. — Eleanor Roosevelt

Okay, Brandon — I feel betrayed. Isn’t this blog series supposed to be about becoming a great leader? 

Yikes, you got me! 

You see — there isn’t a “become a leader in 30 days plan”. 

If there is — I doubt it works. 

In my humble opinion, the allure of leadership often steals the spotlight, overshadowing the humble and essential role that followers play.

Here’s the logic to support my claim. 

Followers > Leaders


Followers and leaders are not equal. 

There will always be one leader and multiple followers. 

Who do you think needs who? 

While aspiring to become a leader is respectable, we mustn’t overlook the importance of learning how to be a good follower first

In this blog post, I’ll share what it means to be a follower, the qualities that make a good follower, and why following before leading is a key step on your journey to becoming an effective leader.


1. Understanding the Role of a Follower

A follower is someone who plays a crucial role in supporting and contributing to the vision, goals, and objectives of a leader or a group. 

They provide assistance and support to help bring these aspirations to fruition.

Far from being a passive role, followership involves active participation, commitment, and a willingness to collaborate towards the collective mission. 

Just as a leader serves to guide and inspire others, followers are crucial in executing plans, generating ideas, and providing valuable feedback.

Photo by Priyanshi Garg at pexels.com

When you take a moment to reflect, it becomes clear that most of us have someone we answer to in our personal or professional lives, even if we are in leadership positions.

The moment you were born, you became a follower. 

How many of you were like me where you followed your parents around whining as they provided detailed chore instructions? 

Oh yeah..cutting the grass every Saturday in the blazing 90-degree Georgia heat was not fun. 

I didn’t like it but it taught me valuable lessons. 

You see —being a good follower can teach you much more than you realize. 

2. Qualities of a Good Follower

A great follower is engaged. These are the teammates that are dialed in from the first moment they walk into work. 

I’ll use Jeff as an example. Every day at work, he shows up with enthusiasm, dedication, and willingness to go the extra mile

Jeff will take initiative, seek out opportunities to contribute and carry out tasks with excellence.

He’s the type of person who will work outside of his black-and-white job description for the greater good

As a leader — I have deep trust in Jeff because he supports his fellow teammates and fosters positive relationships

In the military, we refer to good followers as…..a force multiplier

One Jeff =’s four employees

Photo by cottonbro studio at pexels.com

Yes — I know what you’re thinking….Georgia math is legit. 

Want more leadership math problems? You better start clapping for this post. 

Haha — I’m kidding. 

Okay — let’s talk about Sarah now. Sarah is the type of person you can turn to as a leader and bounce ideas off of. 

“Hey Sarah, what do you think about reducing the work week from five to four days?”. 

“Brandon, I think that’s a good idea but here is concern X, Y, and Z. What about we consider reducing the daily working hours?”. 

Part of being a good follower is open-mindedness. Having people like Sarah who embrace new ideas, perspectives, and feedback is key to an organization's success. 

Okay —next up is Kyle. 

Kyle is a follower who understands the significance of meeting commitments and deadlines. 

Photo by Ono Kosuki at pexels.com

No matter what — you can “throw” a problem to Kyle to solve and he will follow up with you before your suspense date. 

Kyle’s reliability creates trust. Trust is paramount. 

Last but not least. Meet Chad. Yes, I recognize the online community has associated the name Chad as the guy that will steal your girl. 

Photo by Spencer Selover at pexels.com

But not this Chad. 

Chad is the type of follower who dares to openly ask questions, seek clarification, and confront uncomfortable topics. 

Contrary to what most people think — having a “No” person who challenges the way you think is good when it comes from a good place. 

So it’s time to change the narrative about Chad. 

To summarize, good follower traits are active engagement, supportive attitude, open-mindedness, reliability, and accountability. 

3. Why Following Before Leading

The real question is why are you so eager to rush into leading? 

You are more likely to be a follower than a leader. 

Photo by Dio Hasbi Saniskoro at pexels.com

Here’s why it’s important to follow first. 

  1. Learning from Experience: When you sit back and observe your leaders you can see what you like and dislike. Put yourself in their shoes and ask what would you do instead. What you will notice is that your experience of following good and bad leaders will shape your leadership style. Leadership involves people and emotions. You won’t forget when a leader makes you feel a certain type of way. 
  2. Building Respect and Trust: People are more likely to follow someone they respect and trust. By building trust, respect, and strong relationships with your peers, you lay the foundation for support needed to guide others toward success. 
  3. Understanding Perspective: The role of a follower provides a unique vantage point to grasp the dynamics within a team or organization. By actively participating in a supporting role, you gain a deeper understanding of how different individuals contribute, collaborate, and communicate. This holistic view, combined with your own experiences, enables you to make informed decisions, empathize with your followers, and create an inclusive environment that fosters growth and collaboration.
  4. Embracing Humility: Followership fosters humility, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing the greater vision above personal ambition. As a follower, you learn the value of serving others and working towards a common goal. Check out my blog post on “The Humble Path” below. 

We’ve reached the end of our second post in the Mustang Leadership blog series. 

In a world that idolizes leaders, followership often goes unrecognized. However, by embracing the role of a follower, we can lay a strong foundation for future leadership success. 

Until next time. Follow on!

Happy Reading, 

Brandon

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