Honestly, I just keep followers around for company, because I like listening to them and getting the little bit of flavor that they add to the game. I've also never played a stealth-oriented character and so, have never experienced the horror of a friend charging out of hiding to slaughter a guy. However, in order to use followers, I have downloaded a lot of mods. First of all, I've got "Undying Companions," which makes just about all followers essential, so I don't have to worry about accidentally killing them or getting them killed in my wild adventures. Next is "Follower Trap Safety," which makes companions unable to trip any traps. And finally, I forget what it's called, but there's a mod which acts like a leash on any given follower. It forces them to keep up with you across rough terrain, even when you're riding a horse. It also makes them climb mountains and jump down holes. And all of that combined eliminates pretty much all the qualms I had with followers.