I just typed “leadership book” in the search bar on Amazon. I see there are at least 60,000 books I could purchase on this subject. I then just typed “follower book” and then “followership book”. Just over 10,000 results. Are you surprised? I’m not.
Here in the U.S., our culture places leaders on the pedestal. We flock to hear great leaders speak. Some of us purchase book after book to read what great leaders write. Podcasts abound from great leaders.
But what about being a great follower? Doesn’t that count for something? Shouldn’t it count? After all, every leader started as a follower.
“I bet we’d agree even the best leaders accomplish nothing without effective followers. If we agree followers are essential, why do so many people take being called a good follower as a criticism rather than as a compliment?” from Old School is Good School by Chief Master Sergeant Kevin Slater (U.S. Air Force).
A while ago, I was thinking about what it means to be a great follower. I have followed some great leaders. Cam taught me that there is always a way, an option, a solution – no matter what. That mindset has helped me more times in my life than I can count. From smuggling letters out of the former Soviet Union to helping my daughter with her history homework, I personally know that there is always a solution to big issues.
Chuck taught me that I can do anything I put my mind and my heart to. He gave me a shot in his company. I had zero experience, but he saw the potential. I learned and failed and kept on learning. I eventually took the job I had been given, whittled it from 40 hours/week to around 25-30 hours/week. I then was tasked to train my replacement who was given more responsibilities to fill that gap. Me? Oh, I was promoted to a management position.
Wayne taught me that anyone can conduct music. But a true conductor will get the most out of his musicians when he clearly communicates to pull from them their very best. I learned that it’s fun being a musician. But being a conductor allows you to create a musical experience and help others discover the beauty hidden beneath the notes and rests on the page.
None of these leaders coddled me in my developmental process. Far from it. They took me through what I now call the T.L.C. of being a great follower:
Think – Followers need to think, trouble-shoot, and solve problems. Most of the time, they are the closest to the action. You may not always get a “vote” in what goes on, but you certainly have a voice. Followers influence leaders!
Learn – Followers must learn new skills, learn how to communicate better with their teammates, learn what they are passionate about, and learn how their personal strengths add value to the team
Contribute – Followers must be active participants in their team’s/company’s success. There is no place for sideline observers on a winning team. Always look for ways to add value.
The leaders I named above expected this of me all the time. I’m glad they did. What I learned when I applied T.L.C. to my followership paved the path to my taking on leadership roles. I am forever grateful to these and other leaders who took me down this road.
Are you a follower? Great! Apply some T.L.C. to your journey. Who knows, perhaps you will soon be helping a follower under your leadership!
I was featured in an article from our local paper about goal setting. The article was written by Lisa Green of the Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
“Holiday shopping, impeachment hearings, trade tariffs and the volatile stock market may be capturing many of the headlines, but in many workplaces, the year-end also means looking ahead.
It’s goal-setting season.
And that’s also true in many nonprofit organizations, even though they bear the challenge of realizing goals not just with paid staff, but through the generosity of time, talent and sometimes treasure from volunteers.
What could be.
What should be.
Just thinking about the word can be daunting and yet energizing.
Achieving goals certainly requires more than vision and creativity.
“We might say we set goals, but sometimes we set hopes and dreams,” said Jim Johnson, a co-founder with his brother Jere Johnson of the local leadership and networking event called First Fridays.
Planning and being intentional are key, said Johnson, who is also vice president of member services at 3Rivers Federal Credit Union.
He suggests wrapping a SCARF around goals, using this five-pronged approach:
S: Specific goals are necessary. You have to get down to the details about what it will take for success.
Saying “I need to read more” might be a good concept, but it’s not specific enough. “I will read 12 books in 2020” will get you there, Johnson said.
C: You have to commit to your vision and goals. “Be passionate about achieving what you set up for yourself,” Johnson said through email, after a brief telephone interview. “Your goals should move you.”
A: Align your activities, behaviors, thoughts, and time around achieving your goals.
R: Review your goals regularly. “It is easy to get off track,” Johnson said. Review allows you to adjust and renew your focus.
F: Filter activities, attitudes and even people that don’t move you towards your goals. “If they don’t, ditch them,” Johnson said. “Don’t accept time wasters.”
When it comes to self-talk, we’ve discovered six common, yet toxic, beliefs that hold people back more than any others. Be mindful of your tendencies to succumb to these beliefs, so that they don’t derail your career:
Toxic Belief #1: Perfection = Success
Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure, and end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish, instead of enjoying what you were able to achieve.
Toxic Belief #2: My Destiny is Predetermined
Far too many people succumb to the highly irrational idea that they are destined to succeed or fail. Make no mistake about it, your destiny is in your own hands, and blaming multiple successes or failures on forces beyond your control is nothing more than a cop out. Sometimes life will deal you difficult cards to play, and others times you’ll be holding aces. Your willingness to give your all in playing any hand you’re holding determines your ultimate success or failure in life.
Toxic Belief #3: I “Always” or “Never” Do That
Follow this link to read the entire article:
I’m leading a couple of groups at work that I’m calling “Emerging Leaders”. I meet with both groups for just 1 hour each week. Currently, we are working through Jeff Olson’s book, The Slight Edge. Starting in November, we will be studying John Maxwell’s The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.
For today’s session, we will be discussing the Ripple Effect. Olson explains this:
“When you create positive improvements in your life, you create positive ripples that spread out all around you, like a pebble of positivity dropped in a pond.”
And the ripple effect can impact others to do the same…
“When you reach out and positively affect one other person through your interactions and words, you create a slight change in that person, who is then more likely to reach out and positively affect someone else. Simply put, one touches another, who touches another, who touches another.”
Are you looking for improvements within your team? Are you overwhelmed at the thought of moving the entire team to better results, increased improvement?
Take the time to invest in a couple key team members who are positive influencers. Help them see their potential. Give them solid tools for success. Fan their flames.
If they are truly people of influence, the ripple effect can work. As these key team members demonstrate positive results, work habits, healthy collaboration, this can ripple to others. As you coach all of your team, encourage growth and development. Point out the positive and address what needs to improve. But get your team to work together towards success. Make this your culture within your department.
The ripple effect can work for you.
I was introduced to the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. I began reading it yesterday morning while waiting for some work to be done on my wife’s car in the shop. I am enjoying it and highly recommend it to you .
I sent the following in an email to my team here at work. Olson makes a great point on success, and I want to share it with you now.
Jeff Olson shares that most people in life want to experience success but only around 5% actually do something to become successful. According to Olson (and I agree with him), “success comes through simple, productive actions, repeated consistently over time.” That is TRUE.
Here’s an example of that. In the past 3 years, I’ve lost nearly 50 lbs. I did not wake up the other day and BAM! those 50 lbs were mysteriously gone (wouldn’t that be great!?!). No, here’s how that happened:
- I decided to fight my diabetes by changing the way I ate.
- I researched eating a LCHF (low carb/healthy fat) lifestyle.
- Every day, I concentrated on reducing my carbs. For me, I worked to keep my daily carbs to <100g
- Every day, I used My Fitness Pal app to keep track of what I ate and how many carbs I consumed at each meal.
- Every day, I stuck to my plan.
I didn’t intend to lose weight. My goal was to reduce my blood sugar numbers – I was unhealthy! But as a “side effect”, I was losing weight by focusing on reducing carbs every day.
Did you read that? “every day” My weight loss success was due to the “simple, productive actions, repeated consistently over time.” I lost 30 lbs in less than 120 days earlier this year. I’ve kept it off, too.
Here in your job, you can be successful. It will require daily disciplines that are easy to do. Really, they are easy. But just like trying to lose weight, disciplines are also easy not to do. The choice is yours.
So here are 10 Core Commitments for you. This is my challenge to you. Work on these commitments every day at every opportunity. There may be days when you don’t get to all 10, but if you make it a focus, I bet you’ll do more than you think.
10 Core Commitments
- Follow-up (issue resolution, member service one step beyond)
- Follow-through (keeping our promises)
- Ask for the business (connect to our experts)
- Be pleasant & professional (smile and use their name)
- Ask for referrals (members who are “fans” will promote us – ask them!)
- Communicate appropriately (in-person, on the phone, email, texts)
- Add value (be helpful)
- Use our resources (and apply what we’ve learned)
- Take action now (to delay can mean losing)
- Listen more (to get to the core of the issue)
Actively, Daily doing this will:
- Build our business
- Bring us success (and you personally!)
- Bring our members success
- Bring our co-workers success
I’m always looking for ways to engage my leadership team to become the best leaders they can be. In 2015, we are going to learn how to A.C.T. like leaders. What does this mean? We want to identify, know, and embody the
of effective leaders.
Together, each month, we will select an A.C.T. Then individually, for the next 30 days, we will research this A.C.T. to find a good working definition, discover areas where we are already individually strong in and where we need to improve, and then work to identify what success will look like when we put this A.C.T. into practice with our teams and colleagues.
Then in our monthly meetings, we will collaboratively choose the working definition of the A.C.T. We will then share what we’ve learned, where we personally need to grow and develop (accountability), and explain what we believe success will look like. I know my team – there will be great discussions, encouragement, and challenging moments.
I’ve started a list of A.C.T.s we might consider. Here’s a partial list:
- Decision Making
- Staff Development
This blog has readers from around the world. I would love to read your ideas of some the A.C.T.s of effective leadership. Simply make a comment, and I’ll publish it so we can all share our thoughts and ideas. I appreciate, in advance, what you will contribute to this experiment.
I’m looking forward to 2015 with my leadership team. Thank you for being a part of this experience. Together, let’s grow great teams!
You know these people at work. They live under the radar. But more than that, they get special recognition and even rewards for things they do when many others in the organization consistently are doing the same thing. They get promotions. They get or give themselves new titles. They undermine the company culture, but somehow they are seen as the “darlings” of the executives.
Truth: doing the right thing and being the right person does not guarantee you will win at work. You’ve been around long enough to know that life is not fair and sometimes, you end up on the short end of the deal.
Question: is living up to standards, achieving and exceeding goals, being professional and mature…is it all worth it?
Quick answer: YES! Refusing to live and act to the lowest common denominator is worth it! Doing the right thing and being the right person is always right.
It is not easy, but it’s worth it. You know that. I know that.
Being reasonable with unreasonable people is difficult.
Being certain in an uncertain work environment is difficult.
Living up to standards while others around you are trying to constantly redefine the standards to make sure their behaviors fit it…that is difficult.
While I’m not that old, I have learned some things about folks who seem to “get by” and get ahead for all the wrong reasons. It will not last forever. It won’t.
Doing the wrong thing and being the wrong person will create:
* the lack of trust from others. That leaves that person having to constantly look over their shoulder as alliances change.
* the lack of respect from others. They become a joke behind their backs.
* the manipulation of the numbers, goals, results (or at least the understanding of those things), and that will not last.
* isolation. The wrong people end up alone or with very few around them as other “followers” get tired of the games that get them no where. Followers don’t always win in these situations. It’s usually about the “wrong” leader getting ahead and no one else.
* a removal from power. When those around the wrong people have had enough, actions can be taken to remove that person from power.
The choice is yours. Do the right thing and be the right person. Looking in the mirror with no regrets is healthy and will lead to success. It will.