Followership

 

Aiden Christopher will probably never be elected class president. He’s a born follower, and his parents could not be prouder.

“He marches to other peopleʼs drummers and heʼll always be happiest doing that,” said his mother, Laura. “His favorite game is follow the leader.”

At age 2, while waiting with his mother for a table at a busy IHOP, he suddenly took off after an older boy who was walking out of the restaurant with his parents. Laura had to yank on Aidenʼs shirt with a practiced move to restrain him.

Aiden, now 7, has already said he canʼt wait to join the military so heʼll be told what to do and not have to make decisions.

“I donʼt want to be an officer. So I donʼt have to go to college.”

“We know that colleges are filled with students admitted for their leadership abilities, but, letʼs face it, unless there are followers who will those people lead,” his mother said. “Followers are just as important as leaders.”

Such followership skills are already evident. For the local Chinese New Year parade, Aiden was selected to be inside the tail of the long dragon costume.

He loves to wait in line. He shows up early for events, and then politely offers his place to latecomers so they can go first.

“Not everyone is a Churchill,” said Laura Christopher. “It takes courage to admit you are a follower and to accept yourself as you are in the face of social norms that exalt leadership.”

Goats grazing

There are leaders and followers in the animal world, too. Jerry, in front, has always been boss goat. Freddy and Ben happily trail along behind him.