Followership: Embrace the Leader’s Vision

Part 1 of 3 parts

“Why are you cutting costs in this area?”

“I don’t think we should be opening a new facility at this time.”

“If you would allow us to fill our two open positions, we could achieve our objectives.”

These comments were directed toward the leader (only four months into the role) during a contentious staff meeting.  The new leader was proposing strategic changes.  And, as you might expect, some of the staff members were not buying in.

Followership Rule 1:  understand the leader’s vision.

Effective followers focus on understanding—not attacking—the leader’s vision.  As the saying goes, real leaders ride the horse where they want the horse to go.  Listen and observe.  Remain open.  Strive to fully understand what the leader is trying to accomplish.   

Followership Rule 2:  if the leader’s vision is legal and ethical, get onboard.

It is normal for team members to have opposing ideas about what to do and how to do it.  But continuous whining, arguing and resisting only increases the likelihood of team failure.  Productive followers embrace the leader’s vision; they lean into the leader’s decisions; they operate off the same playbook.  To paraphrase the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, if you cannot be a good follower, you cannot be a good leader.