Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Followership Part Deux!

Spiritual life and leadership coach Carolyn D. Townes wrote a terrific post called Good Followers Make Great Leaders. In it, she quotes the writings of Dr. Adalat Khan who notes the qualities followers should have to be of greatest assistance to the success of leaders. They include:

Understand, Support, and Work for the Leader’s Vision
Followers should understand and accurately comprehend their leader’s vision. They must also commit themselves to support that vision. One difficulty which could crop in this regard is the possibility of conflict between the followers and a leader’s vision. To plug this gap, followers should align their vision with that of their leader’s.

Help the Leader to Succeed
Followers can either be like fuel providing energy or roadblocks creating hurdles for the efforts of a leader. Good followers however help the leader to succeed and do whatever it takes to achieve success. Having a winner’s mentality and deriving pleasure form the leader’s success is a quality to be possessed by them.

Provide Open, Honest and Accurate Information
Most of the leaders base their decisions on the information provided to them by their followers. If these information are accurate and honest it will lead to good decision. Conversely, inaccurate and dishonest information will lead to terrible decisions.

A Positive and Can Do Attitude
The phrase ‘recruit for attitude and train for skills’ is highly relevant for all followers. Sometimes when faced with difficulties even great leaders lose hope - during which times the followers could help them by reminding and reassuring them that they could succeed. It is a fact that all human being are capable of doing anything but only those succeed who possess the can do attitude.

Learning Attitude
Learning, the ability to understand one’s limitations, the courage to unlearn negative ideas and beliefs and the desire to acquire new knowledge, skills, and attitude is yet another quality necessary for good followers. To keep pace with the fast changing world of today people need to update themselves with new knowledge.

Townes closes by paraphrasing John Maxwell: the leader who thinks he leads and has no one following, is only taking a walk.

One could easily replace leaders and followers with clients and consultants. The qualities listed above offer excellent guidance for both.


  1. Leo,
    You had me right up to this post. Clearly good client service involves both leadership and followership, but knowing when to lead and when to follow is the trick.
    With this post you reminded me of the popular management book of a decade ago "Who Moved My Cheese?". In it, of course, the followers are judged by how well they could follow the wishes of their leaders - and that's about it. The better they followed (albet blindly), the "better" they were as mice... the obvious coorelation being that the best employees were the best followers.
    The management of the ad agency where I worked handed out this book to all associates, mandating immediate reading.
    I read. I lamented. I left.
    Blindly following a naked king didn't seem like a fullfilling career path.

  2. Martin, sounds to me like we totally agree. As you realize, I know of whom you are speaking all too well. He (they) didn't exactly have the most progressive views on either leadership or followership. Your post made me think of a review of The Last King of Scotland, where Jonathan McCalmont describes the young Dr. Nicholas Garrigan this way, "Garrigan is reduced to playing the role of Sganarelle; forever uselessly berating his master and telling him to repent without the skill to convince him or the moral fibre to stop serving him." By leaving your employer, at least you displayed the moral fibre to stop serving.



Blog Widget by LinkWithin