The Importance of Finding and Developing the Right Followers

Leaders can cultivate anyone who wants to be developed. These traits include those who are teachable, willing to recognize their needs, have a big heart, and possess a sincere desire for growth. Identifying and nurturing such followers is a leader's primary responsibility. A key question for any follower to answer is: "Do you want to contribute meaningfully to the mission? Are your values aligned with the organization's?" Leaders can empower anyone genuinely willing to be part of the journey.

Leadership and followership are a harmonious dance. Both partners must step onto the floor, one leading and the other following. They must hear the same music, resonating in perfect harmony with the organization's values and goals. Fluidity, consistency, and unity are not just important, they are the essence of this dance. When followers don't align, it's not just a misstep, it's a potential disaster that can disrupt the entire rhythm.

In his book The Power of Followership, Robert Kelley identifies two crucial qualities of exemplary followers: critical thinking and active engagement. These are the essential traits leaders should seek when finding and developing followers. Followers who are active but lack critical thinking skills are known as Conformists, often called "Yes" people. Those who are neither critical thinkers nor engaged are Passive, lack initiative and input, and frequently strain the organization. Followers who fall somewhere in the middle are referred to as Pragmatic or, as I call them, "Politicians"—they sway wherever the organizational winds blow. Finally, Alienated followers possess critical thinking but withhold engagement; they are mentally present but disengaged.

As leaders, it's crucial to remember that we have the power to shape the world, not singlehandedly, but through our influence on individuals. Our focus should be on working with individuals, keeping our 'dance troupe' small enough to remain effective. Being good stewards of our resources, including our time, is not just important, it's vital. If some followers aren't receptive to our guidance, it's important to part ways respectfully and redirect our attention to those ready to hear the music of change.

Prioritize your core group. While it's important not to exclude anyone, leaders must recognize their limited time and energy and focus on those who genuinely wish to change, grow, and support the mission. Remember, a changed world can only come about through changed individuals. Therefore, leaders must intensely focus on those eager to transform, rejuvenate, and contribute to the mission through a shared leadership lens.

Are you interested in learning more about how leaders and followers can bring out the best in each other? I'd love to work with your team to teach these concepts and bring a new level of creativity and collaboration to your organization.

FollowershipLeadershipMissionRobert kelleyTalent

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