Followership and Successful Process Implementation
Everyone wants to know what makes good leaders tick – why are the bad leaders bad, why are the charismatic leaders inspiring and why do narcissistic leaders captivate us? However, it is rare to hear a robust discussion about what makes a follower disengaged or devoted? Find out more about the importance of followership here.
Implementing any new process or system requires a sound design and strong leadership. But even with these things, implementations can fail. Perhaps the success of process design implementation also depends on something else – strong followers. In fact, leading leadership scholars have begun to investigate this very construct – the value of followership and how it relates to leadership.
Traditionally leadership has not been understood as a process that is co-created in relational interactions between people (Fairhurst & Uhl-Bien, 2012). When leadership is considered in this way, leadership can only occur if there is followership (Uhl-Bien, Riggio, Lowe & Carsten, 2014). Put simply, without followers there is no leadership. As such, following behaviours are a crucial component of the leadership process (Uhl-Bien et al., 2014).
Everyone wants to know what makes good leaders tick – why are the bad leaders bad, why are the charismatic leaders inspiring and why do narcissistic leaders captivate us? However, it is rare to hear a robust discussion about what makes a follower disengaged or devoted? By not acknowledging followership, we are leaving half of the leadership process on the table. It is imperative to engage with the construct of followership, as the distinctions among followers in groups and organizations are every bit as consequential as those among leaders (Kellerman, 2007). Further, in modern organisational structures that are increasingly flat, the majority of employees will be both leaders and followers over the course of their workday. As such, followership becomes even more crucial to develop amongst our teams.
So how do we become good followers? According to Lussier & Achua (2013), here are some traits that characterise effective followers. Effective followers:
- Offer support to the leader
- Take initiative
- Counsel and Coach the leader when appropriate
- Raise issues and/or concerns when necessary
- Show appreciation
- Seek and encourage honest feedback from the leader
- Clarify your role and expectations
- Keep the leader informed
- Resist inappropriate influence from the leader
Our leaders need their followers, and our followers need their leaders. When you are endeavouring to implement a new service or process design, without a co-designed team of leaders and followers, it will be difficult to achieve your outcome goals. If we can recognise and support followers, as well as develop and invest in their progress we can expect greater outputs and enhanced design implementations.
At Three6, we are different because we connect customer, process and technology by engaging with your people and culture. As such, we believe that the successful delivery of end to end services is reliant on building the right team, with the right mindsets and capabilities. We work with you to ensure your leaders and your followers have the skills and mindsets to enable and support your successful, new, end to end service design.
Contact us to learn more about how to develop your leadership-followership team for a successful implementation!
Achua, C. F., & Lussier, R. N. (2013).?Effective leadership. South-Western Cengage Learning.
Fairhurst, G. T., & Uhl-Bien, M. (2012). Organizational discourse analysis (ODA): Examining leadership as a relational process.?The Leadership Quarterly,?23(6), 1043-1062.
Kellerman, B. (2007). What every leader needs to know about followers.?Harvard Business Review,?85(12), 84.
Uhl-Bien, M., Riggio, R. E., Lowe, K. B., & Carsten, M. K. (2014). Followership theory: A review and research agenda.?The leadership quarterly,?25(1), 83-104.