Leaders. Plenty of stuff written about them. I’m not a leader. Not in the way we’re all made out we should be. Steve Jobs did this. Richard Branson did this. Henry Ford said this. GE cut the bottom 10% of their organisation every year. And your CEO? Well he just got lucky.
But this post isn’t about leadership. It’s about the followers. Me. I’m a follower. I learned a long while ago I’m not a leader with a vision or with drive to achieve. Not in the sense of leading a business. I’ve still got a lot to learn about the world before I think I go down that road.
But I can tow the party line. And tow it well. I know how to deliver a message. I get company politics. I understand people and what drives them. I can sell in an idea and encourage discussion. I’m a loyal follower. I’ll defend my company to the hilt.
This is true of the world outside of work. I’m a loyal brand follower: Disney, Nike, Android, London, Marvel Comics over DC Comics. I’m also loyal to my family and friends. I quite enjoy being part of the crowd and in amongst the thick of things. I like to be in with current news and not being left out of the loop. I can take someone’s idea, credit it to them and help spread the message.
So I follow. And I follow faithfully and with genuine belief in the idea, plan, vision or whatever you want to call it. I’ll give direction where I think it’s needed and provide advice where I think it will help. I have ambitions to be a business asset. Sounds pretty boring huh? But that’s my role. I’m a support function and I’m pretty clear about the value I add to the business and where I add it. I don’t bring in sales, or develop strategy, or create marketing plans, but I know how to make all those things happen.
People like me, we’re good for the business. We help the culture stay strong and true to its word. My old boss is a great example of this. He wasn’t just the head of learning and development, he was a core part of the cultural development programme we had. That’s influence right there. But he was under no illusion that he had any more power than this. Partly because this was quite enough, partly because that wasn’t his interest anymore. Partly because he enjoyed being in the thick of the way the business operated.
I’m happy being a follower. I know my lot and what’s expected of me. I also know what can be achieved and how to make it happen. Leadership, that’s for you. Following, that’s what I do best.