An Effective team member: The most valuable single factor that contributes towards high levels of excellence and quality in a team emanates from an individual team member’s ability to work with others. The word T.E.A.M can be likened to an acronym that stands for (T=Together, E=Everybody, A=Achieve, M=Much more). Every leader wants to work with followers that support the teams’ effort in achieving their goal. No leader wants to work with a follower that distorts the progress of the team. If I may ask, do you consider yourself a “team player”? As a follower, take heed the words of Vince Lombardi, a renowned American Base Ball coach, that says, “Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work”. Leaders enjoy working with team players because their presence in a team makes a huge difference.
Demonstrate value-added: A chief executive officer of a company was once interviewed and asked: which employees would you keep? He replied by saying: “The ones who realize that every decision, idea, action, and plan must be linked to the long-term financial stability and growth of our company. I need to keep employees who are determined to add unique personal value in pursuit of that goal”. The question is: As a follower, what added value do you bring to the table that directly contributes to the well being of the teams’ success and to the overall well being of ensuring the success of your leader? You should understand that as a follower, your future of becoming a leader will depend on your ability to answer this question. Can you demonstrate to your leaders that you are capable to take the leadership role? Remember, until you have successfully followed well, you cannot take the lead. And as a follower, you are following well when it’s known to all, especially your leaders, that you’re actually adding value to the team.
Emotionally Intelligent Follower: Leaders want to work with followers who are emotionally intelligent, able to understand and read others emotions without misjudging them. To be emotionally intelligent means you will have to first understand your emotions and be emotionally stable. When you are emotionally stable as a follower, you don’t easily get offended or take other peoples’ action too personal. Leaders want to work with matured hearts, which look beyond others’ mistakes to see the best in them. Emotionally intelligent followers understand that their presence in the team is to bring the people together, not to scatter them. Emotionally intelligent followers do not hold grudge or react negatively; they resolve conflicts immediately, and are capable of admitting their own mistakes when others point it out to them.
Humility: In the book, 48 Laws of Power, one of the laws says, “Do not try to outshine your masters”. As a follower, avoid the “ITK” (I Too Know) syndrome. Even when you know better than your leader, you don’t have to show it off before everyone or the leader that you are better. One of the great qualities of good followers is their ability to support and help their leaders, especially in the areas where they are weak. Remain humble with your knowledge even when you reveal it. Remember, you don’t have to announce yourself, let people announce you. Even when you are not acknowledged publicly as a follower, the very potential or knowledge in you has been registered in people’s mind. In fact, they know and say within themselves: “John is made up of stuff”. They may not have to tell you, but in due season, your time to be made known will surely come. Personally, I have seen this work severally in my life. At a time I expect to be acknowledged for my contribution, I never see any appreciation. But in reality, I notice my impact in the team is being felt. And sooner than later, I see them calling me to take up a role or the other to lead the team. Therefore, never despise your leader by your negative impression of showing that you know better. But rather help increase his influence by attributing what you know to the success of his leadership. As Ziz Ziglar once said, “what you make happen to others will happen to you”.
See you at the Top!