Followership sounds peculiar because it still remains one of the most underrated aspects of managerial studies. Somehow we are made to believe that followership is akin to submissiveness; which isn't true. Respecting an authority doesn't mean losing your identity and adopting a herd mentality. The success of a team is often attributed to effectiveness of its leader; but an equally important aspect is the ability of the followers.
Being a good follower is the key to leadership. An effective leader doesn't act on whims and fancies but on a higher idea or objective; to which he holds himself accountable too. That’s what differentiates him from a despot.
However a lot of people never intend to lead. Yet they lead meaningful lives full of passion. Many successful personalities have publicly acknowledged that they prefer concentrating on their skills and following an envisaged path.
Since being a good follower is not just the prerequisite to being a good leader but an important achievement in itself, let’s have a look at 5 qualities of an effective follower.
Perhaps the most important quality of any follower is honesty. No matter what culture or part of the world we are born in, we are always taught that honesty is the best policy. When we grow up, this simple quality gets lost in the vast realm of fancy managerial jargons. As a follower you need to be honest; honest to your profession, institution and managers. Honesty builds credibility, which is perhaps the most valuable addition to your personal brand.
To stand his ground when the going gets tough is an undeniable quality of a good follower. This is what differentiates him from a yes man. You should understand your priorities and shouldn’t shy away from opposing managers if their actions are against the company’s interests. A good follower must also be bold enough to accept failure rather than playing blame game.
Not every follower can be an ace performer. We all have different strengths and abilities; but what we all can do is take measures to improve. A follower should never undermine his personal performance. By doing your job earnestly, you achieve the core attribute of followership which paves way for further opportunities. Remember your job profile is the reason you got hired in the first place. There shouldn’t be any half measures when it comes to work.
Being a follower doesn’t mean compromising your career prospects. Dream big and strive for a better tomorrow. Work on your craft and compete with your own previous standards. In fact followers who are content with status quo and lack the enthusiasm for better things might not be ideal for progressive enterprises.
A leader needs to be a great communicator, we have read that countless times. But what about the communication abilities of the follower? Can a team succeed if the followers fail to effectively converse with their leaders? Don’t sugarcoat things when you talk to management. Being honest works only when you absorb it in your communication. If something bothers you at work, share it. If you feel underutilized at work, share it. If you feel things are great and life is awesome, well share that too!
Leaders, followers, stakeholders; they are all inseparable parts of a team. It’s perhaps futile to compare the importance of their roles. At the end of the day everyone is a team member, and that is the crux of teamwork.