Do you find it difficult to inspire others to follow your lead? Do your superiors sometimes tell you that you’re too pushy or bossy? If you have experienced problems while leading, it may be because you never learned to follow. The Free Dictionary defines followship “as the practice of doing what other people suggest, rather than taking the lead.”
The lessons of being an effective follower are often overlooked because we are so focused on being the boss we don’t appreciate the role of being a subordinate. To follow effectively means that you make your leaders look their absolute best. In fact the 1st law of Robert Greene’s book the 48 Laws of Power describes it best. Law # 1 is “Never Outshine the Master – Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please or impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the opposite – inspire fear and insecurity. Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power”.
Without understanding the characteristics of being an effective follower you may not be an effective leader. Those characteristics of effective followship are:
• Humility – You should never strive for the limelight, always give the credit to your boss. Let them be the ones to give you credit. (If you don’t get the credit you feel you deserved, don’t become resentful and bad mouth anyone; because that behavior will damage your professional image).
• Loyalty – Always speak highly of your superiors and support their policies. (Don’t follow blindly. If you must question orders or policies, address your boss in private. As a member of the military I have been trained to follow all orders. My standards of followship are if the orders are not illegal, immoral or unethical they will be followed).
• Team Building – Be the peace maker and encourage others to give their best efforts. (If you know of people in the organization that are unhappy with the work environment and love to discuss their dissatisfaction with everyone; avoid getting pulled into negative conversations and always interject positive facts when necessary).
• Dedication – Always meet or exceed deadlines, don’t take time off work unless absolutely necessary and give a 100% effort when on the clock.
If you implement effective followship, you will become invaluable to your superiors. Most importantly when you become the leader, you will know what to expect from your subordinates.
Sherry’s books are available from her website, SherryStrothers.com:
• Strength is in the Struggle – This book will enable you to learn about yourself and thus tap into the strength you have in abundance. Consider this book as your GPS to success!
• How to Break the Glass Ceiling Without a Hammer – As a member of the Professional Women Network, Sherry is one of 30 international coaches and consultants selected to co-author this book for Career Strategies for Women.