Who are your followers?

We’re not talking here about your followers on Instagram or Twitter – not that we don't understand how critical it is to have lots of followers on social media, especially if you want to promote ideas, products, or services.  Just observe how people brag about how many followers they have online to know followers matter. We’re talking about who is following you as a leader. 

While having followers on social media is important, business leaders are nothing without followers within their organizations, and to be a successful leader you will need more than a few followers. Some organizations don't value being a good follower – they think everyone should aspire to be a leader. But when you look at what makes an organization successful, it is a combination of a strong leader who sets the vision and the people who carry out the vision – in other words, the followers!

Hard as it is for some of us to understand, not everyone wants to be a leader. Some people don't want the responsibility or the visibility that comes from leadership while others may want to gain additional experience before taking on the role of a leader.  Keep in mind that everyone has different abilities, interests, and talents – even followers!

However, being a good follower doesn't mean you always are in the shadow of the leader, and in today's ever changing work environment, someone who is a leader today on a specific project may be a follower on the next challenge  your organization faces. Savvy organizations don't get hung up on titles or hierarchy when putting work teams together – they configure the team to maximize the talents of the members!

Good followers are not people who blindly implement any idea a leader shares. One of their main roles is to help leaders be more effective while remaining true to their own beliefs and values. A good follower asks good questions, carries out assigned work in a timely and accurate manner, and partners with the leader to maximize the success of whatever challenge they have been assigned. Here are some qualities of a good follower:

  • Keeps leader informed
  • Gives the benefit of the doubt to the leader
  • Is honest  with the leader and provides feedback 
  • Supports even unpopular decisions
  • Trusts the leader 
  • Takes initiative to solve problems

In 2019, we hope you'll pay some attention to the followers in your organization. Recognize their contributions and provide opportunities for them to develop their skills and abilities. While some of them may have leadership potential, remember all leaders need followers so don't overlook your very own followers!

Barbara & Cornelia

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