Why is that?
Well, you could say that when we are first introduced to the towering Wookie, he was a prototypical follower. And there is nothing wrong with that.
In fact, I would contend that you must first be a great follower before you can be a great leader.
- They are clear. They understand their role. You can’t be a good follower unless you have clearly identified the leader. While you may be a leader in your own realm, everyone has a boss—including you. Great followers not only accept this fact but embrace it.
Chewbacca knew his role. On paper, he was co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon and sidekick of Han Solo. In our hearts, he was the lovable, over the top teddy bear that was willing to sacrifice himself for his boss, and the Rebel Alliance.
- They are obedient. While obedience may be a politically incorrect concept, it is essential for organizational effectiveness. No one should be allowed to give orders who can’t obey orders. This is how great leaders model to their own followers the standards of acceptable behavior.
Whether it was using his key mechanical skills to fix the Millennium Falcon, or using his blaster to save his friends from near death, Chewbacca did everything that was asked of him, and more.
- They are servants. This is crucial. Great followers are observant. They notice what needs to be done to help the leader accomplish his or her goals. Then they do it—joyfully, without grumbling or complaining.
Well, I can’t honestly say that Chewy didn’t do his job without grumbling or throwing out the odd “uuuurrrrrr ahhhhhhhrrrrr uuuurrrrrr” from time to time. Sometimes silence is tough to do when you have a leader like Han Solo, whose emotional intelligence is as low as the Emperor’s love for Yoda. At the end of the day, Chewie still got the job done.
- They are humble. Great followers don’t make it about them. They are humble. They shine the light on the leader. They make their own boss look good—especially in front of his or her boss.
Perhaps it’s easy to be humble when nobody understands what you are saying, but Chewy definitely wasn’t one to have the glow of a lightsaber shine on him. He quietly went about his business and helped save the world from the Dark Side. No biggy.
- They are loyal. Michael Hyatt has written on this before. Great followers never speak ill of their boss in public. This doesn’t mean they can’t disagree or even criticize. It just means that they don’t do it in public. Great followers understand that public loyalty leads to private influence.
If you had to describe Chewbacca in one word, without reference to his appearance, the word that easily comes to mind is loyalty. He never wavered from his undying dedication to Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and the Rebel Alliance.
There is no doubt in my eyes that Chewbacca should be considered a leader in the Star Wars series. But to first do that, he had to be a great follower first.