Did you know it is as important to identify your followership persona as it is your leadership one? I am going to share an insight with you that I wish someone would have shared with me decades ago. It’s imperative that in addition to finding a position that utilizes and cultivates your leadership behaviors, you also report to a leader who aligns with and nurtures your followership traits.
So much has been written on leadership, and so little on followership. Yet, they are two sides to the same coin and are found in every single living being. We consciously and unconsciously vacillate between leader and follower numerous times throughout the day. It’s a fact that if you pair a driven follower with a laissez-faire leader, chaos is going to ensue. And if you pair a passive follower with an empowering leader, that will also be a marriage doomed from the start.
Before you take that next position based on your skill set and desired salary, get to know who you’re reporting to. Examine the upper echelon of the organization so you can get a glimpse behind the curtain to know if you’ll be moving on up or out in the next few years. Find out the latitude your leader is going to give you. If they’re a micro-manager and you are a free-range creative, think again. If they are transformational and you’re afraid of change, run like the wind.
If you don’t heed this advice, you’ll end up unequally yoked, a term that came from the Bible verse 2 Corinthians 6:14. It means that rather than being able to work together in a productive manner, you’ll be at odds with one another causing the workload to go around in circles. In his book, The Power of Followership, Robert Kelley outlines five typologies found in followers. The descriptions cited below from Wikipedia do a great job in outlining each one’s main characteristics. Where do you see yourself?
1. The Sheep i.e. Passives:These individuals are passive and require external motivation from the leader. These individuals lack commitment and require constant supervision from the leader.
2. The Yes-People i.e. Conformists:These individuals are committed to the leader and the goal (or task) of the organization (or group/team). These conformist individuals do not question the decisions or actions of the leader. Further, yes-people will adamantly defend their leader when faced with opposition from others.
3. The Pragmatics:These individuals are not trailblazers; they will not stand behind controversial or unique ideas until the majority of the group has expressed their support. These individuals often remain in the background of the group.
4. The Alienated:These individuals are negative and often attempt to stall or bring the group down by constantly questioning the decisions and actions of the leader. These individuals often view themselves as the rightful leader of the organization and are critical of the leader and fellow group members.
5. The Star Followers i.e. Exemplary:These exemplary individuals are positive, active, and independent thinkers. Star followers will not blindly accept the decisions or actions of a leader until they have evaluated them completely. Furthermore, these types of followers can succeed without the presence of a leader.
There’s even a free test online that you can complete to see what type of follower you are. Please do yourself and everyone else in your life a favor and take this test. And if your boss is open to it, have them complete the same test. It may give you some great insights on areas to work on so you can begin pulling the load together in more tremendous and productive ways. Happy Following!!