Leadership is about influencing people toward making a vision a reality. It involves innumerable dynamics. One of the greatest, if not the greatest dynamic, is the human one. As much as leaders are not perfect, so are followers. Every leader has at least one ‘bad follower’ at a certain time or all the time.

It is easy to envy other leaders because you are not walking in their shoes but the truth is, they also have their fair share of challenges, some of which include bad followers. You are not alone.

Sometimes bad followers escalate in their bad ways and force leadership to expel them. In instances where this has not happened, leaders can use bad followers as a resource for their leadership. Yes, you read right. Bad followers make great leadership.

This, of course, is not something that will happen on its own. The only way bad followers make great leadership is if leaders:

  • recognise this
  • if they’re intentional and strategic about how they deal with the bad followers.

Great leaders are not intimidated by ‘out-of-line followers’, but use them to enable their leadership

Bad followers include followers who do not follow instructions, have bad attitudes… You can complete the list yourself.

Onto how bad followers make great leadership development resource:

What System?

Bad followers are always looking for ways to beat the system. They look to the system to systems to see how they can justify not following set strategy. They point out what’s wrong with the system as a crutch and not a direct means to make things better.

As a leader to bad followers, look deeper than the excuses as to how you can better your strategy.


Bad followers are a great reminder for leaders not to get complacent. Take the bad followers as a reminder that you need to keep growing. As you grow as leader, so will your ability to lead the bad followers.

When bad followers challenge your leadership, think about what aspect of your leadership are revealed to be lacking.

Bad followers can be safeguards against leaders tolerating their own complacency.

Do not get too caught up in the frustration of dealing with bad followers and lose sight of possible opportunities for growing your leadership.

How Bad

Consider bad followers as internal obstacles. Obstacles are good questions. See bad followers as a question: how badly do you want to achieve your goals. As with any obstacle, navigating it develops leadership muscle.

Think of the bad followers in your fold as a personalized leadership school.

Naked King

Sometimes leaders mistake genuine concern, differing perspectives and authenticity for dissension. There are times the lone differing opinion is an anchor.

Do not be too quick to dismiss differing opinions. Sometimes opinions undermine the truth because of the way they are presented but this does not mean there is no truth.

Be care to mistake the guy who is willing to tell the truth, while the ‘rest of the crowd’ is too afraid to air different perspectives.

Allow bad followers to refine your listening skills. Listening, really listening is a skill that leaders must continually develop.

Question: How else can bad followers be a resource for great leadership?


Published by Blessing Mpofu

just a guy changing the world