Isn’t Leadership a Little Too Overrated?

Almost in every MBA program, there is a module for teaching us leadership skills. A quick search on Amazon for the keyword “leadership” brings up 90,000 results. Search for “Followership”, you will get only 200 results.

Popular management literature has always blown up “leadership” as the most important skill to have.

But leadership is only half the story. Let’s see why.

We are being trained to think, that being a good leader is the only way to build a great team. 

Every time a team fails to perform, a management guru might tell you ‘well, that’s lack of leadership’.

There is this overemphasis on the role of the leader when it comes to measuring a team’s success.

Because of this, we all try to sharpen our leadership skills.

If a project fails, usually the leader gets the blame for not leading the team properly. That makes the individual who was supposed to be the leader of the team, to lose self-confidence. 

“I am not good enough” “I have to try harder” “my team doesn’t like me” “I am a weak leader”, these are the typical thoughts going through a leader’s mind when a project fails.

But, what if I told you there’s something more than just leadership, is needed for a team’s success?

That additional ingredient is “people with followership skills”.

Yes. Followership is a skill, and we have to nurture it among ourselves and within our teams.

Think about it. Would Christianity be the same, unless Jesus found his first five disciples?

In each of the success stories of history, there is a role played by the first few followers of a movement, or a cause. It’s not just about the leader.

But because of the fact that leadership is so overrated, most of us don’t want to become a follower. We all want to be leaders. 

This misconception destroys new industries at the inception itself because the early enterers to the industry don’t want to collaborate with each other. 

That’s the biggest problem. Overemphasis on “leadership”, lowers the willingness to collaborate. 

In other words, leadership is the reason why teamwork becomes hard. 

We need good followers in every team. Followership has to be hailed as equally important as leadership when achieving team success.

Here are some qualities a good follower must possess.

  1. Confidence in the leader’s vision

Good followers whole-heartedly believe in the vision of the follower.

  1. Alignment with direction

A good follower fully understands the direction set by the leader, and he naturally gets aligned with that direction.

  1. Honesty

A good follower doesn’t have hidden agendas. 

  1. Work ethic

A good follower is committed to working hard, pays attention to detail, and is focused on results.

  1. Ego management

Most importantly, a good follower never gets his ego in the way when making the right decisions for the team. A person with an inflexible ego, cannot become a good follower. He cannot become a leader either, because nobody likes to work with people with inflexible egos.

Well, what do you think? Do you agree with me that leadership is a little overrated? Isn’t it high time for us to start developing followership skills as well?

Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Cheers, and have a nice day.

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