There is a lot of talk about leadership in the world today. Awesome stuff. You find books on leadership to be at least one of five in an inspirational book section of a library or store. It is everywhere you turn; leadership schools, videos, audios, books, quotes, you name it.
And I get it, leadership is a big deal. Extremely important something.
You know what is just as important but never gets the five-star treatment?
Yep, you heard right.
People think the job of the follower is easy. You get to be led, someone gets to be in harm’s way in your stead. You get to be given instructions and all you have to do is carry them out as you’re told. The stakes are not directly on you so, if there’s a loss, you get to still have dinner and a good night’s sleep. Really, how hard can a follower’s role be?
Well, pretty hard!
Every human being is wired to believe that their opinion and the lens through which they see life is actually the right one. Now, how much strength does it require to give that up to someone else, to trust in a leader, a person other than yourself, to determine your outcome?
People make obedience sound easy.
IT IS NOT!
Why do you think we have arguments about submission to this day? Because it is freaking hardwork to be subservient, to swallow retorts and bite your tongue to silence when you’re boiling inside with unfriendly words, to put anyone or anything before yourself when you feel capable, maybe even more capable. It is hard to not be able to take the glory of a win for yourself despite having done the work to get it.
People look at Nigeria and think all our woes are because we have bad leaders. But have you thought about the people that are being led? Don’t you think they are even slightly responsible for the way the nation has turned out? Who throws refuse in the gutters? Who murders entire villages over frivolous cattle rearing disputes? Who burns down a human being because he was caught stealing a tuber of yam? Who trolls celebrities on social media and promises to murder Bobrisky if they ever see him (or her, or them?)?
It is all followers. Followers are just as powerful, but no one pays them much mind as we are so busy grooming leaders we forget that there isn’t one without the other.
If you are a follower, I salute you and I hope you decide to be a darn good one. I hope you learn patience and obedience and respect and boldness, and assert your relevance with influence rather than force. I hope you see how powerful you are, and can be, and channel your power for what is good and right, and I hope you be an asset to your leader, the kind of follower you would love to lead.