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The Authentic Follower

The Authentic Follower

This is our eighth and final in a series of posts from the Book Rapper issue Authentic. It’s derived from Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones’ book Why Should Anyone Be Led By You that discusses what it takes to be an authentic leader. Previously in this series: Communication for Leaders

Why we need Authentic Followers

Without followers there is no leadership. Followers are in relationship with the leader and from a different perspective. Ultimately, they can determine if a leader is successful or not. If they’re not engaged with the leaders, then performance suffers and ultimately the leader fails. Here’s a look at leadership from the perspective of the follower.

[Tweet “Without followers there are no leaders #Leadership”]

Not Being Perfect

When a leader shows that they are not perfect it has two profound effects on their followers. Firstly, it gives them permission to be less perfect too. Secondly, it signals to the followers that their leader needs their contribution. When the leader gets the balance right, followers feel comfortable in their role.

[Tweet “When a leader shows they are not perfect it has two profound effects #leadership”]

What makes an authentic follower?

  • Prepared to speak up – This involves significant risks, including the potential loss of their job.
  • Complement the leader – Like a counterweight, followers also need to develop a sense of what is required in different situations. Followers need to be themselves too! Plus, understand what they do best.
  • Appreciate what is going on – Followers ultimately create the room for innovation and change and need to know what the leader is wanting to accomplish.
  • Help leaders learn – This is a mutual exploration of changing contexts and demands.
  • Become future leaders – The future of the organisation depends on the next crop of leaders stepping up. Some will, some won’t.
  • Willingness to withdraw support – Being a follower does not mean blind obedience. It is appropriate to withdraw support for a failing leader for the good of the organisation.

[Tweet “Six things that make you a good follower #leadership”]

What do followers want?

  1. Authentic – Why should I be led by you? Followers want to be lead by real people. Show them who you are – reveal your humanness.
  2. Significant – We all need to feel important. And, we can make others feel important by recognising their contribution. Do your followers feel they have a vital role to play?
  3. Excitement – The basic element of leadership involves stimulating others to higher levels of effort and performance. It’s more than simply getting things done. Does your communication lift others?
  4. Community – We all want to feel part of something, a desire to belong and to relate to others. It’s part of being human – we’re social creatures. Do you engender a sense of belonging? Are you a community builder?

[Tweet “Four things that followers want #leadership”]

QUESTION: Are you are great follower? Do you make it difficult for your leaders to lead?

 

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