The Importance of Followers by Stacy Aaron

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You can tell a lot about a leader by the actions of his or her followers. This follower was only mentioned once at the very end of an article in the New York Times. I read this quote by Mr. McCall, who is 76 years old, which made me want to write about followers:

I’ll follow Father Marek wherever he goes. I told him, ‘don’t stop fast because I’ll run into you’

I don’t personally know Mr. McCall or Father Marek but I can tell a lot from this quote. Mr. McCall is a follower and with followers like that, I think Father Marek has a good chance of accomplishing whatever vision he’s created. From that quote, I know Father Marek is about change. He has inspired people like Mr. McCall to change and change fast. Anyone who can inspire that type of commitment to change is a leader.

All leaders need good followers. Followers understand the leader’s vision and can translate it to their work, their level. Followers ask questions. Followers express their support to others. Followers do what is asked and volunteer for more. Followers share their ideas on how to make the vision work. Followers get stuff done.

Followers don’t want to let the leader down. They believe in the direction that leader is forging. They run close behind that leader, focused and determined, committed, like Mr McCall. They count on that leader not to stop. As Mr. McCall so eloquently puts it, if the leader does stop, someone might get hurt! Followers count on the leader to forge ahead, to keep going.

I can’t decide who is more impressive Father Marek or Mr. McCall and maybe I don’t have to choose. I can’t decide who needs whom more. They both play an important role in driving change. More attention needs to be paid to the awesome followers out there. Not everyone can, should be or even wants to be a leader, thank goodness. Obviously, Mr. McCall is inspired by Father Marek but most likely the opposite is happening too. Father Marek is inspired by Mr. McCall’s faith in him, by Mr. McCall’s commitment to him. I’m sure Father Marek doesn’t want to let Mr. McCall down. So starting today, let’s look at an expanded scope of what is really happening around us. Let’s not just focus on leaders and potential leaders. Let’s also focus on the followers. They are just as important to driving change.

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