Leadership and Followership Don’t Mix

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A while back, I was taking a serious look at something called “Followership.” Essentially, there is this huge focus on leadership and very little on being a good follower. A few bloggers noted that leadership was way over rated and more work needed to be done on following.

I agreed. So I went forth and researched Followership and a few of the key word variations associated with it.

And found….not much.

Much of what little was out there related to articles written for the military — and this made good sense.

But what I really found in reading through the articles was not Followership. Instead, a good follower is a good leader; albeit, a leader as an individual contributor.

Even with the military articles, while about being a good follower, the theme of the work was an individual being a good leader while contributing to work.

Think of the mechanic for the planes of the Air Force. The pilot is entrusting the care and feeding of the aircraft, costing in the millions of dollars, to the judgment of a nineteen, or twenty, or twenty-one year old. That mechanic isn’t demonstrating Followership; instead, the young mechanic is demonstrating the leadership to fix the airplane or ground it because of the work needed.

Companies that drive decision-making to the lowest level possible entrust their employees to make the decisions that are right for the company. That isn’t Followership. That’s leadership by an individual contributor.

So after much research into Followership, I concluded that what we really need are Cubicle Warriors, not followers. Cubicle Warriors know their company business, contribute well in their particular work area, know their competition, and will make decisions on what is right for the company and themselves.

That’s not Followership. That’s leadership.

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