The idea that followership is the reverse or opposite
of leadership is wrong. For example, if a leader is
decisive, the reverse says that the follower is indecisive;
or if the leader is organized, that the follower is
disorganized. The list is unending, but you can see that
leadership and followership are not opposites.
Leaders perform both roles at the same time.
A leadership role and a followership role can be, and
usually are, performed simultaneously. In providing
guidance for the worker, a supervisor is functioning as a
leader. At the same time, a leader may be dealing with
higher level supervisors and, therefore, must assume a
followership role. You are a connecting link between the
workers and the higher level supervisors within the chain
3. Followership and leadership skills are similar.
The skills required of you in a followership or
leadership role are similar in many ways. For example,
whether you are a leader or a follower, you should strive
to create harmony, togetherness, and a sense of belonging
within your particular work group. At times both roles
require you to train others in the development of
technical skills necessary to meet group or mission goals
or both. You can accomplish this training through on-
the-job training (OJT), general military training (GMT),
or formal classroom training.
Your role, as a follower or as a leader, determines the
use of these skills. For example, as a follower you show
harmony (high morale) by your attitude, cooperativeness,
and esprit de corps. In the leadership role, you show and
promote harmony by exercising sound leadership
Knowing the basics of leadership, having the
personal qualities of a good leader, and being a good
follower are all necessary ingredients in the art of
leadership. However, if you haphazardly combine these
ingredients, you will decrease your effectiveness as a
leader. To be a good leader, you must blend these
ingredients in the proper proportions.
By accepting advancement in rate, you have
expressed a willingness to accept the responsibilities and
carry out the delegated authority of your new position.
The crow on your sleeve symbolizes that responsibility
and the authority that goes with the pay grade.
Exercise of authority is inseparable from an
acceptance of responsibility. The granting of authority
helps you fulfill your assigned duties and responsibilities.
People unaccustomed to accepting responsibility are
hesitant to make decisions for fear of being wrong. You
should recognize that as a natural feeling. However, you
must make decisions even if they are wrong on occasion.
When you realize you have made a wrong decision, admit
your mistake, accept the responsibility, and take steps to
avoid repeating the error. That will increase the respect
of others toward you as a leader.
New petty officers often make two major mistakes;
they may supervise too little or too much. Petty officers
who supervise too little may continue to perform their
duties as a specialist, an operator of equipment, or a
maintenance technicianand nothing else. You may find
yourself making the same mistake. You may be sticking
to your old job and avoiding any effort to supervise and
instruct others in lower rates. You may either ignore or
be afraid to take over your responsibilities of leadership.
By making this mistake, you shortchange the Navy and
yourself. The Navy did not advance you to give you more
pay for the same work; it expects you to practice your
increased skills and knowledges by supervising and
The other mistake made by new petty officers is that
they supervise but do little else. Some people think
supervision consists of ordering subordinates to do all
the work while they sit back and do nothing. You should
be as careful to avoid supervising too much as you
should be to avoid supervising too little. Supervisors who
won't dirty their hands on occasion are more of a liability
than an asset because morale problems are certain to
Now consider some of the broader aspects of your
increasing leadership responsibilities: