Commentary

May 30, 2014

Good followers necessary for effective leaders

Staff Sgt. TIMOTHY BOYER
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

It is perhaps one of the most difficult duties of an Airman, yet one which we tend not to talk about after Basic Military Training or technical training.

We are taught throughout our careers how to be effective leaders, but somewhere in the focus to become effective leaders, we lose the focus on being a good follower.

It is strange that being a follower tends to have a negative connotation. Without followers, many of the things that made our country successful wouldn’t have occurred.

There were certainly civil rights leaders who paved the way to the level of equality we enjoy today, but without people who were willing to follow those leaders, they would have been far less effective.

Could you imagine talking in a history class about the One Man March that made such a huge impact? Hopefully the answer is no. As many are aware, it was a Million Man March and it was because of those who chose to follow that it made an impact.

In the same way, having good followers is critical to the Air Force mission. There are examples of this every day at Luke Air Force Base.

The Airman who follows his technical order to ensure the maintenance he performs meets the safety standards necessary is one example. The Airman who doesn’t really want to be doing the job she is in but understands the role it plays in the bigger picture, so she shows up ready to work and do what her supervision asks without complaining, is another.

One of the gray areas of good followership is when and how to speak up when you may have a disagreement with your supervision. The method to navigate such a challenge varies depending on personalities, but there are some basic ideas that can be helpful.
First, you have to choose your battles wisely. To do this, you must understand your part in the mission. This will guide you as you determine whether it is appropriate to make your suggestion or if it is more important to get the mission done for that moment.
Second, it is important to remember that your supervisor has likely been performing the job much longer than you and has learned to be efficient based on trial and error. Fresh ideas are great and should be shared, but do not be so tied to your idea that you are close-minded to why decisions are made. Understanding why decisions are made is one of the greatest ways to first becoming a good follower which lead to becoming a future leader.

Third, be selective. Retired Chief Master Sgt. Roger Buck once told me what he attributed to his success.

“Make a habit of keeping your mouth shut,” he said. “Do this and when you have something to say, people will really listen.”

His point is a good one. If you make a habit of challenging everything your leaders say or do, you will eventually be shrugged off as a nuisance. However, by choosing your battles wisely, understanding why decisions are made and being silent most of the time, leadership will take you seriously when you have something to add.

It has been said, that to be a good leader, you must first be a good follower. Practice being a good follower, so you can one day be the leader the Air Force needs you to be.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Who’s afraid of a little blood?

I have been in the Air Force for 22 years and have been a medical laboratory technician since the beginning of my career. The medical or clinical laboratory is where specimens are tested to provide information to medical providers who directly assist in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease in patients. After graduating basic...
 
 

Pursue education for career’s sake

Everyone knows education can be a good bullet on an enlisted performance report, but few know the true value of an education in regard to a military career. The pursuit of an education can be just as valuable as the degree acquired at the end. The knowledge acquired in the pursuit of an education can...
 
 
This-week-in-history

This week in history

1945: P-51 Transition Training Luke Field instructors began to teach a transition course in the North American P 51 Mustang 70 years ago this month when 13 of the aircraft arrived at Luke Field. In the following months, instruc...
 

 
foodnetworkstar

Fly Over: ‘Rose and Crown Pub’ and ‘Food Network Star’

‘Rose and Crown Pub’ A beautiful green countryside, day after day of cloudy skies, rain and fog, and chilly winters and humid summers — if this sounds more appealing to you than sun and desert heat, you’re probably bett...
 
 

Chaplain’s thoughts …

Our generation loves to hear inspiring stories — tales about exceptional heroes who fear nothing and succeed even during difficult times. Yet these extraordinary characters, admired by the people, can only be found in the comics. They’re called super heroes; because one day, by a stroke of luck, they were given incredible powers. However, the...
 
 

How do you stack up?

With upcoming changes to the enlisted performance report and Air Force promotion system, it’s important to understand how you stack up against your peers, not only within your job, but within your unit as well. The days of receiving time in grade and time in service points are numbered. They are being replaced with a...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>