Literal VOLUMES of books and columns have in the past and are, almost daily, written about what it takes to be a leader. There are ‘how to’s’, concepts, principles, and even scientific disection of various traits displayed by effective leaders. These writings are also argued against with opinions by ‘rugged individualists’ who proclaim people should never find a good leader, rather, people should be their own ‘leader.’ The most probable outcome in the preparedness and liberty community will be disorganization, and ultimately, failure to achieve any objective that will serve most, if not all concerned. Leadership is a necessary foundation of success or failure in a given endeavor when more than one person is involved. Someone has to step up to make the hard decisions when nobody wants to do so, right?
What is not written about, discussed, or sometimes even acknowledged is what it takes to be a good team member, or more plainly, a ‘good follower’. The term is not in favor, and therefore hardly ever used, because, in this writer’s opinion, it doesn’t feed egos, it doesn’t encourage kudos, and it always means someone else is calling the shots, and the follower is bound to follow directions, which takes discipline, and many today don’t have the self-discipline to do what it takes.
Truth: Not all people can (or should) be, “in charge.” Most people who vie for leadership positions actually understand (or care) what it takes to be a leader, and fewer are actually able to apply the science of leadership when it comes to getting people to do things that will serve them in adverse conditions, no matter how difficult the task or high the sacrifice. However, almost everyone, if they apply themselves honestly, can be good team members/followers, or subordinate leaders if their skill sets have been developed enough to be effective with smaller groups or an individual ‘nube.’ When a follower initiates and follows through with his or her voluntary subordination, personal, task, and leadership maturity develop, and the capabilities of the team/group therefore increase.
So, what does it take to be a good team member?
A willingness to subordinate oneself under the authority of another for a desired purpose or goal that may involve either as specified or indefinite time period. This is nothing new, as this requirement, typically unspoken and understood, is seen all the time in various sports, physical activities, or serious educational endeavors. The instructor/coach is the leader, and the player/student is the follower. The new member of the team/group/class/association must demonstrate he or she is willing to learn and apply common concepts and principles and then apply those in the performance of tasks.
Second, there must be the understanding, that as far as the group is concerned, the followers/team members are beholden to the group with the obligation to master the ‘book moves/techniques’ that are common to all group members. It matters not what those common tasks are comprised of, nor the difficulty level of learning/performance; the follower is in the position to prove him or herself to the group, not the other way around.
Third, purposeful self-discipline and suppression of ego. The team member may find himself putting in extra time outside of group functions to study, get in shape, practice assigned skills, etc. He or she also, by necessity, must acknowledge that others may know more or perform various subjects or tasks than they may. Even if the team member does surpass a particular leader in one or more areas, the sought after team member will do whatever they can to make the team successful and not worry about getting ‘credit’. Nothing demonstrates a lack of self-discipline or interest in the group to have a team member not come to group meetings/training sessions prepared or to be known for ‘getting credit’ or building ego through ‘one-upmanship’ of the leader.
If the team member, or follower, practices the above points, the time will come where his or her opinion is sought after by the leader(s) because they’ve proven themselves–the ‘dues’ have been paid. More responsibility will be delegated, and respect will be earned; more importantly, the group or team has expanded their knowledge and performance base, which equates to a higher probability of making it through adverse incidents, conditions, or events.