Followership is the New Leadership


Followership is a relatively lesser used term than leadership. Lots of organizations have leadership training very few have followership training, in our modern organizations, this is changing.

Effective followers tend to be those individuals who challenge their leader’s decisions and implement those decisions keeping in mind the intent of the decision as well as the explicit directions given in the decision. Challenging the leader’s decision rationale helps ensure that the decision incorporates the realities of implementation and doesn’t become bogged down in old ways of thinking. Understanding intent or the “why” of the decision helps the follower adapt the decision nuances to the reality of the implementation situation as it evolves.

Today’s business environment tends to have more real time attributes than in decades past and thus the value of followership has increased. Gone are the days in which autocratic leaders made decisions and followers merely implemented them. Today’s followers have to be part of decision making in a real time environment partly because there isn’t time for the leader to be the bottle neck in a decision. This suggests that leadership is more about creating the setting or tools such that appropriate decisions can be made rather than making the decisions by themselves.

The top takeaway for creating effective followership:

Provide followers the decision making toolkit which includes:

–         Actively participating in the decision,

–         The rationale of the decision so they can adapt the decision to the realities of the business environment this means an implementation that can exploit nuanced opportunities and reduce mistakes arising from the decision,

–         Motivation,

–         Positive supportive organizational culture,

–         Necessary relevant information; and

–         Decision making guidelines.

This environment includes an understanding of calculated risks taken, a follower centric leadership, the information, analysis tools and decision making guidelines that the follower needs to adapt and evolve the information quickly as the decision implementation meets reality.

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