Thursday, January 27, 2011

What Makes A Good Follower?

Another blog post inspired by a conversation with the boy.

There's a lot of literature out there about leadership and how to be a good leader; but frustratingly for the boy, there is not much (if anything) out there about how to be a good follower. Most good stuff out there on being a good follower is actually already about BDSM; there is a large and wordy focus on submissives in BDSM and Leather (and Gor, and FemDom, and all those other related subcultures) about what it means to be submissive and what it means to be a good submissive.

But in broader strokes, what makes a good follower? Well as a leadery sort of person, here are some of my thoughts:

* Observation and attention.

* Listening skills. Being a good listener is vital to following instructions and interpreting them correctly. Being a good listener is not just hearing the words; but also taking the time to register them and all the circumstances surrounding them. To think about what is heard as much as hearing it.

* Good feedback skills. The ability to acknowledge instructions or criticism in a meaningful way, and make it clear to the leader that they were heard. Nothing worse than a snipped "yep" in response to an instruction, and nothing worse than "it's fine" in response to "what do you think of...".

* There's a phrase we have in Leather, "anticipatory service". It means knowing what your top wants before they know they want it. It's getting their favourite drink into their hand and lighting their cigarette without them even noticing that you're there, let alone asking for anything. While I don't think anticipatory service (or any related vanilla concept) is *necessary* for being a good follower, it sure is impressive.

* Being able to work without micro management. Not that micromanagement is a bad thing, but I think being able to work well without it makes an excellent follower.

* Going above and beyond the call of duty, without treading into territory that isn't theirs to tread into.

* Enthusiasm.

* Being able to be honest about their skills and competence. I would rather someone tell me they are unable to do something, or even do something well, than to attempt and fail with no communication on the issue. Likewise, they need to know themselves well enough to know this sort of thing in the first place.

* Good self-knowledge and self-awareness, though honestly I think those are the sorts of things that are good for everyone to have.

* Being observant and attentive! (Yes I know I'm repeating myself, but I think these two things are the most important things, in my humble opinion.)

I'm sure there's plenty more and this is probably something I will revisit at some point, but that's all I got for now. :)

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