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Friday, February 26, 2010

Ten Rules of Good Followership

How does one become a good follower? This is a responsibility no less important than that of leadership––in fact it enables good leadership––yet it is often ignored. 

The nature of leadership can perhaps be best understood by turning the coin over and studying followership. Why do people follow leaders? If we can understand this, then we will be a long way down the road to creating those followers and hence becoming an effective leader. People don't just follow anyone. You can't just say 'follow me' and expect people to follow out of the goodness of their hearts. You have to give them good reason for them to follow. Moreover, it is likely that all of us will be followers more often than we will be leaders!

Here then are our Ten Rules of Good Followership gleaned from experience:

  1. Don’t blame your boss for an unpopular decision or policy; your job is to support, not undermine.
  2. Argue with your boss if necessary; but do it in private, avoid embarrassing situations, and never reveal to others what was discussed.
  3. Make the decision, then run it past the boss; use your initiative.
  4. Accept responsibility whenever it is offered.
  5. Tell the truth and don’t quibble; your boss will be giving advice up the chain of command based on what you said.
  6. Do your homework; give your boss all the information needed to make a decision; anticipate possible questions.
  7. When making a recommendation, remember who will probably have to implement it. This means you must know your own limitations and weaknesses as well as your strengths.
  8.  Keep your boss informed of what’s going on in the team; people will be reluctant to tell him or her their problems and successes. You should do it for them, and assume someone else will tell the boss about yours.
  9.  If you see a problem, fix it. Don’t worry about who would have taken the blame or who now gets the praise.
  10. Put in more than an honest day’s work, but don’t ever forget the needs of your family. If they are unhappy, you will be too, and your job performance will suffer accordingly.
See also, The New Psychology of Leadership: Identity, Influence and Power. In this book, the authors write; 'The development of a shared identity is the basis of influential and creative leadership. If you control the definition of reality, you can change the world.'


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