People do not follow leaders, they follow effective followers
Around a team meeting table the leader asks a question, and, although there may be many with questions, no-one will speak until the Effective Follower asks their question first, thereby giving permission to everyone else to follow – not the leader. This does not mean the leader’s role is redundant, but it does question the main focus of the leaders’ attention. Leaders need to be highly aware of the followers they are creating with their management style, and, spend greater levels of energy and focus in nurturing the environment, to allow Effective Followership to flourish. Without this they run the risk of failing to achieve authenticity, a key leadership trait.
Effective Followers display high levels of courage and are willing to take massive levels of responsibility. These followers challenge decisions with the intent to understand. They contribute well beyond the task in hand, and seek to engage on many levels. They are fundamentally supportive and loyal, but are willing to question. Weak leaders hate them, because they highlight the weak leader’s flaws. Their existence is threatened by corporate culture, and a high dependency on target driven management. They tend to be an aspiration rather than common practice.
An Effective Leader is one who creates the right environment for Effective Followership to flourish. Leaders must however set the tone within their organisation, to enable their subordinates to be as effective as possible.
Empowerment of followers to contribute to the business goals is the prerequisite to making followers effective. Empowering followers means training them in ways to solve problems, as well as allowing them to act without approval for every task. In essence, empowerment enables followers to exert leadership over their specific area of work.