So You Want to be a Leader?

First you must learn to follow

James Halliday
4 min readSep 30, 2020
Photo by Anna Samoylova — Unsplash

Can you lead without having first been a follower?

The Napoleon Hill Foundation doesn’t think so:

“No one is capable of giving direction unless he or she knows how to take directions and carry them out.”

Nor did Aristotle:

“He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.”

Rick Beneteau had this to say:

“If you want to lead, first learn how to follow.”

So what does it mean, to learn to follow?

Here’s a simple question: How do you know what a leader looks like if you’ve never been a follower? You can study famous leaders and entrepreneurs, but until you’ve worked for a great leader, you’ll never really know.

To be a good leader, you need to develop a core set of skills, skills you learn by being a follower. Leaders can’t achieve much without a strong team behind them. And to be a good team player takes skill.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you don’t have opinions or are a “yes” person. Some of the best team members I’ve worked with are those who challenge the leader’s decisions; it forces the whole team to think. Blindly following orders is not a good trait.



James Halliday

Project manager in live television, background in engineering and logistics. Biker, vegan, dad to two tiny terrors. Love travel, food, walking and photography