Follower First

Students must respect before they are respected

Kaitlin Green, Publication Editor

When I entered high school, I got to experience something fairly universal: I was a part of a team.

Coming onto the Tigerette dance team as a rookie, I was acutely aware my role was to do my job and respect the older girls who had previous experience and worked extremely hard.

I knew our captains were chosen because of the qualities they possessed, which they continued to prove to us each day.

Because of the leaders I had my freshman year, I learned each person in a group plays an important role in success. Despite having little influence on the team, I found joy in working with others and striving toward a common goal.

This experience greatly shaped my current views on leadership and the hierarchy that comes with it. It is imperative for students to learn how to be cooperative followers before they can become great leaders.

According to a poll of 211 students, only 38% reported occupying a leadership position. With more than half of all students at BV holding the title “follower,” it is even more essential for students to recognize the importance of listening to, and learning from, those in charge.

When someone gets experience as a follower first, they are able to learn essential skills that define great leaders. Working with others allows a person to experience teamwork and compromise, all of which are qualities necessary for effective leadership.

Another crucial development that occurs during this time is respect. If someone is able to demonstrate the ability to be kind and courteous to others, once they receive a title or position, they will have already earned the respect of the people they now guide.

Time as a follower should be a learning opportunity for those who plan on seeking leadership positions in the future. Skipping this step creates people who are not equipped to lead.

When someone doesn’t learn how to gauge the opinions of others or observe situations without playing a role in decision making, it is more likely for that person to be removed from issues or make decisions based on their own thoughts rather than the team’s majority. This in no way helps to unite groups of people, but rather divides, and in the process causes the leader to lose the respect and trust of their peers.

I firmly believe a leader should never ask something of someone else if they are not willing to do the same, and from my experience as both a follower and leader, every instance of this has rung true. While leaders hold a title, they must also remain cooperative to positively influence their teammates.

If students hope to one day become and be remembered as a great role model, there is no skipping steps.

Only when a person has experienced what it is to be a follower can they truly comprehend what it means to be a leader.