We have made a number of observations about leadership by looking at Numbers 13 and 14 (the story of the children of Israel on the brink of the Promised Land). One of the key observations is that if leadership is influence, then effective leadership is not always good leadership.

One can be effective at leading people to bad outcomes, but good leadership effectively influences people to good outcomes.

Most of our observations about leadership have been made by viewing the actions of the 10 leaders who convinced the children of Israel to return to Egypt. Let’s see what we can learn from Caleb and Joshua, the two leaders who tried (and failed) to convince the people to enter the land of milk and honey.

One of the most important takeaways, in my opinion, is that good leaders are also good followers. Or put another way: Good leaders are not in it for themselves.

Since Caleb and Joshua were with the other 10 leaders during their scouting trip into the Promised Land, it’s a good bet that they saw the same obstacles and challenges their peers did. And I would venture to say that they may have had some of the same fears and doubts.

But even when the children of Israel “grumbled” against Moses and Aaron, Caleb and Joshua stood by them and the vision that God had given Moses. They demonstrated good leadership by being good followers.

I believe these two continued to be good followers even during the 40-year odyssey through the wilderness. Under Moses’ leadership, Caleb and Joshua raised up another generation of “captains” who helped Joshua lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land and then conquer it.

Without Caleb and Joshua’s willingness to be good followers as well as good leaders, who knows how long the children of Israel would have wandered?

So, what’s the definition of a good follower? One who supports and is committed to being led by a good leader pursuing a good vision. 

Greg Wallace is the Chief Operating Officer for HRock Church in Pasadena, Calif. He loves teaching and helping others pursue their life’s passion. He is passionate about developing leaders, building organizations and helping people and groups thrive in the midst of change.