The Virtue of Being a Follower

One of my good friends – a respected colleague – once said, “I’m a follower, not leader.”

This (other) guy wrote a book on great followership (i.e. as opposed to leadership).

The first follower takes the courage to say, “Hey these people are onto something!”

The first follower is what makes a trend, just as the second point on a graph makes a line.

Being an expert follower is prerequisite for a good leader, and following is itself a form of leadership.

To all the followers out there, this list is for you:

  1. Thomas Jefferson, first a vice president, then president
  2. Barack Obama, first a senator under Clinton, then president
  3. Microsoft Windows, not the first GUI operating system
  4. Apple iPhone, not the first smartphone
  5. Facebook, not the first but the most successful social network
  6. Frodo, the second Baggins to bear the ring
  7. Jesse Pinkman, the sidekick you root for
  8. The Empire Strikes Back, the better follow-up movie.
  9. Pablo Picasso, a grand follower of classical realism before breaking free
  10. Twitter, a social network that celebrates the act following

So let us, too, celebrate followers.

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Howard Chen
Vice Chair for Artificial Intelligence at Cleveland Clinic Diagnostics Institute
Howard is passionate about making diagnostic tests more accurate, expedient, and affordable through disciplined implementation of advanced technology. He previously served as Chief Informatics Officer for Imaging, where he led teams deploying and unifying radiology applications and AI in a multi-state, multi-hospital environment. Blog opinions are his own and in no way reflect those of the employer.

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