In the Midst of a Great Relationship


Organizations filled with people who need to be #1 are paralyzed by sideways energy. Everyone pulls for their own way rather than pulling together.

We are so in love with being #1 that we minimize being #2. But,
great organizations are filled with great followers.

Becoming number two:

“Losing an election was perhaps the most important event in my life. Wrestling with the defeat of that was a remarkably positive experience.” Rich McKewon, co-author of, Finding Allies, Building Alliances.

Shortly after his loss, Rich was appointed by the Governor of Utah to the Tax Commission. Within several years, Governor  Mike Leavitt asked Rich to be his chief of staff.

Rich has been Mike Leavitt’s #2 in the public and private sectors since 1995. Rich said,

“I found myself in the midst of one of
the great relationships that I’ve ever had.”

How to be a great number two:

I asked Rich how someone could become a great #2? He said,

“Hook up with a great #1… The right #1
can lead you to remarkable experiences”

Great number ones:

  1. Invite others to test their ideas.
  2. Say, “We” not “I.”
  3. Live open handedly.
  4. Aren’t threatened by talented people.
  5. Freely praise outstanding performance.
  6. Expand their views with outside input.
  7. Delegate extensively.
  8. Live by noble principles.
  9. Know where they’re going.
  10. Build great teams.

Mike said, “I never felt like I was subservient. I felt like I was part of a team.”

Great number twos:

  1. Understand what the #1 wants and expects.
  2. Organize a group of people around those expectations.
  3. Implement. “Run stuff.”
  4. Create a support system that allows the #1 to function at maximum utility.
  5. Magnify strengths.
  6. Compensate.
  7. Speak the truth to power. “If I had to reduce the responsibilities of a good follower to a single rule, it would be to speak truth to power.” Warren Bennis

(Both lists are adapted and expanded from my conversation with Rich McKewon.)

Conversation on Facebook: “Great followers ______.”

Recommended reading: “Finding Allies, Building Alliances.”

What hinders people from become great followers?

How can great followers be developed?