When I was an ROTC cadet, we were evaluated on sixteen principles of leadership. They included such things as integrity, courage, communication, etc. One of the categories was “followership.” I wasn’t even sure that “followership” was a word and, as a young man of 21-22 years old, I definitely wasn’t sure that it was a legitimate characteristic of a leader.
How could following be directly related to leading? It was, as far as I could tell from my immature perspective, a contradiction inherent within the comparison. As such, it was the one of the categories that I didn’t place much value or emphasis on.
That’s not to say that I was openly rebellious. I would do the things that I was ordered to do and I would do them to the best of my ability. It was an attitude of arrogance, however, that reserved the right to question and complain about decision-making. It was a reservation of my rights to follow only in practice, not in principle.
As I have grown and exercised in leadership, I have come to the conclusion that “followership” may be the most important of the characteristics in a leader. The ability to submit, whole-heartedly, is critical to individual performance as well as organizational integrity.
At its core, it is a question of trust. Do we trust the authority that we should be submitted to? Do we believe that the authority’s interests are for us and not against us? Are we humble enough to trust that we will grow in wisdom as well as stature when we submit our will to another’s direction?
In order to be a person of authority, you must first be a person under authority. There is ultimate Authority over all legitimate leadership. If we trust that Authority then we are better equipped to lead others through our submission. If we give up, we will be raised up. If we die, then we will find Life. This is true in the natural reflections of leadership structure because it was first established in the Eternal.