I am passionate about leadership; consequently, I am even more passionate about followership. I am convinced that most of us lead exactly the way we learn to follow – so we should be very careful how (and who) we follow.
In my opinion, effective followership and leadership transcends personality and is much more about attitudes and learned behaviors. The research confirms this – you will be hard pressed to find many studies in which a personality characteristic is a significant predictor of leader performance. Leadership is also highly contextual, so one of the most important behaviors you can learn is how to influence your environment.
Do you realize that you are teaching your people how to follow? What you teach them is based upon YOUR assumptions about the roles and responsibilities of followers and leaders. This might be hard for you to swallow, but the behavior of your followers at work is as much a reflection of YOU as it is of them.
So what type of follower(s) do you have (Chaleff, 2003)?
- Do you have people that do the minimum required, make complaints to third parties, and never challenge your authority?
- Do you have people that don’t really work that hard but are very quick to confront you and complain about anything and seemingly everything?
- Do you have people that work their butts off, give 110 percent to the job, are dependable, compliant, and seemingly so respectful of your authority that they rarely complain?
- Do you have people that give 110 percent to the job, take risks, hold themselves and others accountable (including you), but always point out potential improvements to the process or policies by suggesting what they could do to help?
There is a reason why your people behave the way they do. More than anything else, that reason reflects things that YOU control as a leader.
That is good news for those that are ready to stop blaming followers and start understanding how to create the conditions where employees, customers, and balance sheets thrive. That is our responsibility as leaders.
This is a big can of worms, so stay tuned.
About the Author: Bret L. Simmons
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- Do Your People Ever Tell You No? « Bret L. Simmons | August 10, 2009