First Tunisia, then Egypt, now Libya. . .what's next? Why did it all come about? Each country is experiencing a crisis of leadership. But, the root of the leaders' problems is not leadership, it's Followership. Or more specifically, their inability to recognize the significance of this crucial aspect of leadership. From the past few months of observing the popular uprisings in the Middle East, one thing is clear. Leaders don't exist in a vacuum---even dictators and tyrants.
Followership is not frequently addressed in leadership literature. A recent Google search that I conducted revealed that the term "leadership" is mentioned approximately 1300 times for each time that the term "followership" is. Yet, it's vital if the understanding of leadership.
In my recently published book, The Pilot --- Learning Leadership (Greenleaf Book Group Press), fully one-third of it is devoted to this very topic and how it relates to leadership. Start with the following premise. You can't be a good leader if you're not a great follower. Let me add a few qualifiers. You can't be a good long-term, effective, and respected leader if you're not a great follower. I've studied leadership and it's components from the vantage point of a multitude of positions in military and civilian organizations. Using the military as an example, people who lead by virtue of their rank don't have to worry about getting people to follow them, so long as they outrank them, people will follow---or will they? They will to the extent that they have to. But, the effectiveness of leaders who understand their followers is exponentially greater. The reason? Because even in a military organization with a clearly defined command structure, leaders who have the support of their subordinates are immensely more successful than those who don't. Those who really get the concept, get things done, and people get things done for them.
So, what does "getting" the concept really mean? It means that the leader has not forgotten what it's like to be in the shoes of his/her subordinates. This is easier said than done. But, simply being aware of the need to stay in touch with what it was like on the way up the organizational ladder is a great first step toward increased effectiveness. Effective leaders also work to identify Mach One Followers. Mach One Followers are the "go to" people. They are enthusiastic at the beginning, middle, and end of a task. They understand the significance of three critical factors: Judgment, Enthusiasm, and Tenacity, and they continually work on developing each one. (More about these three key attributes on a future post).
An effective leader knows how to identify Mach One Followers and how to create an environment in which they can thrive. To be continued. . .