Becoming a leader others want to follow requires that we model effective followership. Let’s explore why this is important, how to begin, and attributes of leaders worth following.
Why is followership important?
Because we all do it.
Truthfully, most people follow someone. Following is natural. We can’t carry the burden of leadership in every circumstance; we need each other more than we care to admit.
While following can be situational I think it continuously occurs in some facet of our lives. Following is part of growing.
In my life, I’ve yet to meet a person who is expert in everything. While a few acted like it, down deep, I bet they recognize even they don’t have all the answers.
Most of us look to others to help us navigate new and/or complex situations. If we are learners, we are following. Following a leader that has our best interests at heart may require us to put some of our ideas on hold. In a prior article I have outlined our responsibilities to our leader.
Becoming an active follower
Actively following requires being close enough to our leader to observe how they navigate the terrain based upon their experience. Being close allows us to ask questions to better understand what they are thinking and feeling along the way.
Our capacity to lead increases as we practice good followership.
Be selective on choosing who to follow
Oh! So important is the leader we choose to follow that it can make or break a career, a dream, and even a life.
A framework I use to think about how to select people worth following includes many attributes. 3 of the most important include character, competence, and consistency.
- Character: I encourage you to search out people who have a heart that places the cares of others above theirs. They do this even when they don’t have to and when no one is looking.
- Competency: We need to follow others that have demonstrated finding the best way for their teams to fulfill missions in changing environments. They don’t make excuses and find a way to succeed using the resources they possess and find ways to grow individuals on their team along the way.
- Consistency: Look for those who have developed productive habits over time that keep focus on the most important.
In conclusion, the shepherd leader accepts that part of becoming a leader others want to follow requires developing our follower capability as it is the foundation we leverage when leading others different than us.
Shepherding: The art of becoming the leader others want to follow