Maybe it’s the occupation I’m in or possibly the fact that I’m an incurable information junkie, but does it seem to you that we are overrun by media for managers, books, seminars and multi-day programs for leadership training. Conferences and seminars beckon aspiring leaders. Last week my copy of Inc Magazine came and here’s what took up the whole cover. “Become a better leader in just two days.” Not impossible, but doubtful. Through books and blogs, volumes are written on the topic of leadership. There is no lack of training for leaders. But what about training for followers? Is there a demand for training in how to be a better follower? We could call it followship!
Many years ago, and I say that because it was early in my working career, I had trouble with the concept of following. Not that I wouldn’t follow, thought I was too good to follow, or allowed obstacles to prevent me from following. When I entered the workforce of the serious career minded, it was with the mindset to aspire, advance, achieve, then retire. Advancement meant stepping up to the plate, with each plate moving me higher on the ladder. It took about 2 years for me to recognize my gift was to be a follower, not a leader; the word ‘Manager’ would never be inscribed on my nameplate and my name would never show up on an org chart. Manager of others does not describe me, but manager of myself does. God wired me to be a leader of my own thoughts and actions – I aspire to advance and achieve my calling, followship.
I once went to talk to a trusted manager about my role on the team. I didn’t have the experience or the technical knowledge of the other members of my team. This was at a time when layoffs were occurring, and for whatever reason, I wasn’t laid off but was ‘traded’ to another area of the organization. I knew nothing – literally – and didn’t see how I would fit into my new role. He said to me “Anderson, you need to go home tonight and read Romans 12.” I was surprised and pleased at the same time. I read this first, Romans 12: 4-6 “We are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around….. we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.”
That made sense. I would never be like the others on my team, but I could use my strengths to fill a role that was uniquely mine. I kept on reading. Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Pray through it, be patient, and be faithful. I had the easy part while God took care of the tough stuff.
I still read a lot on leadership. I wish there were just as many resources available for followers as there are for leaders. How would the marketing look for a seminar for followers? Become a better follower in just two days doesn’t have the audacious drive and stir the same emotion as ‘Become a better leader’ does. Where are the books and blogs that reveal the significance of filling the role of an expert follower? When I say 80% of my job is making my boss and my team look good, I say it with conviction. When I say, “I want to help you,” that statement is authentic.
In my past I have been called a servant leader, the eternal cheerleader, and sunshine. I have never been called boss or manager. My constant prayer is that I continually have on my heart, only to be what God wants me to be every moment of every day. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-28 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will in Christ Jesus.