A number of years ago, we realized that we provided this “leadership training” to leaders. We did not provide this to followers. There are a great many books, courses, coaching, etc. on leadership, but little to nothing on followership.
From a practical point of view, most people are followers a majority of the time. The best leaders are followers sometimes. Sometimes great followers are given an opportunity to be leaders and do not want to be a leader.
So how do we “package” great followers’ capabilities and get more of what they have? How do we get more great followers? Where is the training for followers?
In the quest for helping leaders build great followers and to become better followers themselves, we have identified the top 10 traits:
1. Ask deep questions: questions are the best way to learn and cause learning. Great followers use questions to ensure the right path is being taken to the right destination and they are clear on what needs to happen.
2. Research and get great answers from unexpected points of view when asked a question: too many times leaders are moving so quickly they do not look at all perspectives. Followers sharing alternate and unique perspectives can broaden and deepen the leader’s ability to make the best decisions.
3. Argue privately with the leader, yet support the vision and goals publicly: too many leaders do not get the opportunity to bounce their ideas off of someone and being able to do that privately is very valuable to a leader. At the same time, many leaders lose the battle during implementation when followers do not support the cause, so a loyal public follower is always valuable in defending the plan.
4. Teach others: followers can gently share information or ask questions in a way that causes the rest of the team to understand a broad variety of viewpoints, improving the overall wisdom of the group.
5. Recognize “successes” and point them out: bad news travels fast. A great follower also ensures that the good stuff is shared, which motivates those around them to continue striving as well as to duplicate the good stuff.
6. Control the flow of information and people to the leader: too many leaders have too much information and too many people coming at them. Great followers know how to slow down the flow of less useful information and people and are able to get the leader what they need as they need it.
7. Connect the leaders to the rest of the team and culture in a positive way: sometimes followers and leaders can get disconnected from each other. Great followers find commonalities and what is in agreement to be able to increase the quality of communication and alignment of leaders with the team and the culture.
8. Coach the leader on what they and others need and desire: every leader at times needs to be told the truth, both about what is working and what is not working. A great follower can choose the right time to share critical information to achieve a great victory or to prevent a major misstep.
9. Track your projects daily: great followers achieve their tasks and keep those relying on the resulting product informed of progress or delays. This allows coordination of resources and results to keep everything and everyone moving at the right pace.
10. The best followers also will lead from time to time: even if they do not want to, great followers will step to the front when necessary.
By the way, when we share this with you, we are assuming that great followers already have the basics mastered when playing the game:
The Comprehensive Independence Builder
If you are interested in learning more about how to build and duplicate great followers, please contact us.
You may also wish to learn more about our unique process for leaders called The Comprehensive Independence BuilderTM, in which we address all of the obstacles you face and help you use innovative strategies to protect and enhance your organization, improve your quality of life, and better achieve your goals.
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