28 February 2022 | 2 min read


We talk a lot about leadership here on the Volunteer U blog. But there can’t be leadership without followers. Learning to be a good follower is a skill set that you can sharpen, just like your skills as a leader. Research also shows that good followers tend to get promoted more often, have greater satisfaction at work, and add more value to their teams. 

Your followers are watching to see how you follow those over you. They’ll take their cue from you, so it’s vital to hone your follower behaviors. Here are three tips on best supporting your leadership as a follower. 

Protect the boss. 

Your leader has strengths and weaknesses just like you. As a follower, you are in a position to see things they might miss. Not all leaders accept suggestions. But a good follower will catch potential pitfalls and warn their leadership. It’s okay if they don’t take your advice, but a good supporter will still take the risk of warning the leader. 

In the end, it’s always YES. 

Playing devil’s advocate by letting your leader know there might be a hitch in the plan is necessary for a valuable team member. But in the end, your leader is the one making the final call. Once that decision is made, a good follower is on board. Your job as a follower is to carry out the plan to the best of your ability to ensure it’s a win. It’s also your job to stifle criticisms, complaints, and gossip among other team members. Once the decision and plan are in place, a good follower will help pivot other team members to be on board with the vision even if you don’t fully agree with the direction. 

Help them shine. 

Your job as a follower is to make your leader look good. Good followership is not just about showing respect and obeying commands. Great team members work hard and do their jobs so skillfully that it reflects well on their boss. They know their leaders’ strengths and weaknesses and do what they can to help spotlight those strengths and support them in the weak areas. In the end, great followers want their leader to succeed. 

Being a good follower isn’t always easy. Followers don’t always have the advantage of following a good leader. Leaders are human and can make bad choices, have poor leadership skills, and even just be a jerk. But regardless of whether a leader is good or bad, it’s up to the follower how they will respond. The choice is ours as followers. Good leaders know the value of a great team member and can offer that same support to those above them.