Leading and Managing Well? How Well are YOU Following?
Like many leaders and managers, you work to hone the skills and attributes which improve your personal and professional influence and effectiveness at making things better. But when is the last time you paused to reflect on how well you’re being a good follower in your current leadership position or role?
Most discussions on leadership development and improvement focus on our influence leading “down.” But face it, regardless of our roles or positions of influence, and as much as we would like to have complete autonomy or ownership, we all work for and are accountable to others (bosses, boards, business partners, laws etc.). In turn, we must be good followers and hone our skills leading “up.”
Perhaps in your current position you are more “senior” by age and experience than your boss, or you find yourself in a position of working for a friend or close acquaintance and find yourself struggling to embrace his or her vision. In situations like these, you must be able to check any feelings of resentment or frustration and work for, rather than against, them towards achieving their goals. So, what are some of those attributes of a good follower?
In his article Ten Good Rules of Followership, Phillip Meilinger provides some great insight to help us understand the importance of, and relationship between followership and leadership. His rules include not blaming your boss for an unpopular decision or policy; fighting with your boss if necessary but not publicly, making decisions then running it past your boss, doing your homework to give your boss all the information needed to make the best possible decision, and keeping your boss informed on what’s going on.
Interestingly, many of the goals of leader or follower success are similar. Both roles require you to strive to create harmony, togetherness, and a sense of belonging within your team. As a follower, you demonstrate harmony with your positive and supportive attitude, your spirit of cooperativeness, and sense of esprit de corps. When engaging in your leadership role, you promote harmony through the positive use of your power bases and the mindful use of your influence tactics. So, being aware of which role you are filling--follower or leader--can help you determine how to better use your influence skills when leading up. Furthermore, reflecting on how your understanding and development of personal attributes such as humility, reliability, loyalty, and accountability are impacting your level of followership is important.
Give the article above a read. Then take time to conduct your own personal self-assessment of your followership attributes, skills, and attitude. Then take what you learn to improve where needed and make a positive difference in your personal and professional life.