Musings on the Need to Follow. | Celebrate What's Right With the World
Musings on the Need to Follow.
by Tania Carriere
May 20, 2017 - 2:36pm
Most of my coaching clients come seeking to refine their leadership skills. They want to lean into their ability to inspire others to reach a destination or outcome. But on my most recent trip to Uluru, (Ayers Rock) Australia, FOLLOWING was the skill we practiced.  And I reflected,  just as there can be good leaders, there can also be good followers. I am struck that no one has ever come to me seeking to nurture their skills as a follower. 
On the hot hike around the base of this most spiritual rock in the centre of the Outback, I was grateful for the firm direction of our guide, who inspired and admonished us to love the land, to be wary of the heat (drink lots of water!) and, most importantly, to follow her lead and directions carefully.  Our safety, as well as our respect of the traditional Aborigine lands, depended on it. She was capable and comfortable in her role, keeping us motivated, on schedule, safe and inspired to learn a history and geography that was foreign to everyone. 
Our group was full of personalities who were comfortable leaders in their own right. I must admit that our attention and our commitment to follow meandered as we entered into the third hour of our hike - the strain of the exercise took its toll on our fellowship and our follow-ship. I found it took a intentional willingness to join her in her enthusiasm and at times concerted effort and discipline to show interest and keep her pace. It was effortful to follow. We needed to encourage each other to heed her directions while being comfortable NOT giving suggestions or recommendations for alternate routes, speed or outcomes. Together, as a group, we completed the task. Our guide had done what she had intended and led us straight into a love of the land and an experience that would remain a cherished memory. We had allowed her to succeed by being open and willing followers. 
Why is it that as a society we don't place value on follow-ship? 
When I think of some of the most important discoveries in my life they have involved following. To take a great photo you must follow your gaze, to dance you follow your ear, to love you follow your heart, to decide you must follow your intuition. In each one of those cases, "leadership" only gets in the way.
What do you think? What if we celebrated what it means to follow? What does it look like to to you? I am quite sure it is as demanding a role, with as much accountability and discipline required as leadership. 
In celebration, 

Join Tania Carriere, Dewitt Jones and Lynette Shepard in a one week retreat The Re-Imagined Self in Molokai Oct 28-Nov 4, 2017 and reconnect to your sense of listening and following the wisdom within.  Only two spots left! Click here for more information:

Emmaon May 21, 2017 - 9:03am

So true - how many of us can say we are great followers? What an enlightening book that would be.

Emmaon May 21, 2017 - 9:04am

So true - how many of us can say we are great followers? What an enlightening book that would be.

Jameson May 21, 2017 - 10:09am

To Lead is to instruct, inform, guide, and to take, if not control, responsibility for the enjoyment of those we lead.

To Follow, is to surrender our desire to be out front, and fall in step with the one who leads. Learning from the experience, welcoming into our lives and our hearts, the wisdom that our Leader has to share.

And, to Follow, is to feel appreciation for the gift of his/her time in Leading us to a unique experience and point of view that we may have missed otherwise.

Beautiful Essay, Tania, thank you for your wise Leadership and Experience in having been a Follower.

Catherineon May 23, 2017 - 9:01am

Very thought-provoking, I don't think I am a good follower at all, now I reflect on it, yet I put quite an emphasis on others being good followers of me! I will reflect more and am interested in what others see as a good follower - certainly not to follow unquestioningly I would have thought?

Steveon June 12, 2017 - 9:53pm

I agree 100%. Reminded me of this I read not long ago: "a leader cannot lead without followers. If better standards are to be observed, there must be a better people to do it." Ezra T Benson Thanks for the post!

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