Become a Better Leader by Being a Better Follower | STACK Basic Training

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Want to Become a Better Leader? Start Being a Better Follower

October 24, 2011

Officer Salute
Leadership advice is plentiful for those who seek it. At your local bookstore, you’ll find shelves full of advice and counsel from athletes, coaches and leadership gurus. You could search 100 bookstores, however, and never find a single book on a topic critical to every leader’s success: followership.

Many leaders forget that they are also followers. But if  they mess up their relationship with the person or persons they report to, they will limit their effectiveness and risk losing the trust of both their bosses and their followers.

These relationships are often clear on the sports field and in the workplace, but perhaps nowhere are they more important than in the military.

The fourth edition of the Air Force's Concepts for Air Force Leadership contains a great article by Col. Phillip S. Meilinger, entitled “The Ten Rules of Good Followership.” Here are a few of our favorite rules:

Don’t blame your boss for an unpopular decision or policy; your job is to support, not undermine.
It’s much easier to complain about decisions than to make them. Show your followers how to take the high road by supporting your coaches or bosses, even when you don’t agree with them.

Fight with your boss if necessary, but do it in private; avoid embarrassing situations, and never reveal to others what was discussed.
It’s natural to have disagreements with your boss, sometimes even major ones on important matters. If you have an issue, it’s important to talk only to those involved and to keep your conversations private. Earn—and keep—the confidence of those you’ve gotten involved by refusing to gossip about them.

Keep your boss informed about what’s going on in the unit; your people will be reluctant to tell him or her their problems and successes. You should do it for them, and assume someone else will tell the boss about yours.
In any group, people would rather talk among themselves than directly with their superior. A great follower will take problems directly to the superior along with a proposed solution. Great followers are also their team’s biggest cheerleaders, making sure coaches and bosses know about the good work of team members.

If you see a problem, fix it. Don’t worry about who will get blamed or who will get the credit.
One of the strongest traits of a good follower is taking the initiative. Whether you’ve discovered a major problem or just tweaked a simple process, fix it without drawing attention to yourself.

Become a better teammate, employee or leader by focusing on your relationships with your superiors. By concentrating on those relationships, you’ll earn the respect of both the people you lead and those you follow.

Dustin Brady
- Dustin Brady is the Web Manager at STACK Media and an avid runner. He received his bachelor's degree in communications from Pensacola Christian College in...
Dustin Brady
- Dustin Brady is the Web Manager at STACK Media and an avid runner. He received his bachelor's degree in communications from Pensacola Christian College in...
Must See
Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,307,131
Dwyane Wade Leads by Example
Views: 4,423,494
Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,222,480

Featured Videos

Dwight Howard Ab Workout Views: 62,672
John Wall Elbow-to-Elbow Shooting Drill Views: 186,478
Elite Performance with Mike Boyle: Build Explosive Power With Contrast Training Views: 17,880
Load More
Workout Like a Solider


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Colby Lewis's Post-Game Band Splitter Routine
Views: 8,349,427
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 4,006,048
Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach
Views: 8,690,635
Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,529
Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs
Views: 1,176,187

Load More