According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “Followership” means: “the capacity or willingness to follow a leader”. The opportunity to challenge leaders to view themselves through the prism of reciprocity is as fascinating to us both today as it was in the early stages of our respective consulting and teaching careers.
In the era of 21st century business practices — the need for a rear view mirror perspective of leadership has quickly become a critical ingredient for an ambidextrous organization and leader. The pace of the current global business climate dictates leaders navigate stealthily and operate from a place of transparency to enhance their ability to engage those they need to execute against their strategic vision.
Whenever we first start working with a client who is in some type of leadership position, we place equal focus on both “Leading” and “Following” in our coaching, which is critical to the success of “employee engagement”. Great leaders come to instinctively understand that there is a time to lead and a time to allow others to lead. Leading an organization / team is one thing — looking back to see if they’re still following you is something altogether different.
This is especially important during times of transformation where leaders should be held accountable not only for achieving and sustaining desired business results, but also for how they motivate and inspire others to do the same. Simply stated — the best views of leadership often come from those who follow — not those who lead.
In our humble opinion, the best way to measure “Followership” is to incorporate some type of mechanism by which to deliver performance feedback to leaders on a consistent basis. And then hold them accountable on how, when and where they align their leadership style to the needs of their followers.
Without fail, those companies who don’t embed an assessment process into their leadership development culture, they will have a plethora of leaders who continually “step in it” leaving a trail of exhausted and disengaged followers. Like the old saying goes — “if you’re not the lead dog — your view is always going be pretty much the same”.
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