Humans have an evolved flexible followership psychology that enables them to select different leaders in different contexts, depending on their needs. We distinguish a triad of follower needs: (i) guidance into a shared direction, (ii) active protection against threats, and (iii) judicious dispute settlement. These needs relate to critical group coordination challenges described in biology and anthropology and to different evolutionary leadership theories. We describe the contexts, in which these needs emerge, the characteristics of leaders who meet these needs, and the potential risks of following these leaders. We end by discussing the potential of our theory to aid the understanding of leadership in modern organizations, female leadership, leader manipulation of needs, and individual differences between followers.