Followership - Arizona APCO / NENA

Mesa Public Safety
February 2, 2011
Analyze theories of Effective Followership and
Classify followers in terms of
Quality of Thinking
 Active/Passive
 Performance Initiative
 Relationship Initiative
Explain how followers can become leaders by
Leading Up and how leaders can develop followers
to become leaders
Followership is the relationship between
subordinate and leader that elicits a response
(behavior) from the subordinate
Followership has only been studied as a discipline
for about three decades – but it’s important
The role of followers has evolved - followers listen
to peers more than leaders
Increasingly, followers will act on their own (a
movement) when leaders fail to act
Everyone is a follower – good leaders must know
how to follow
The role of follower has changed; therefore, the way
leaders viewed and valued followers had to change
It is critical to a leader’s success that followers
be valued as partners – collaborators.
Followers will act on their own (a movement) when
leaders fail to act as they think they should
Without a follower, you’re
just the lone nut out there
A leader without a follower is just out there
It’s only when the first follower is convinced to
come in that there is a leader
A person with a goal who partners with a follower is
a leader with credibility
When enough followers follow, there is a tipping
At some point, if you don’t participate, you are
New followers follow followers and not the leader.
Everyone is a follower – good leaders must know
how to follow
About 80% of leader task-time is spent following
We spend so much time following that it is about
time we thought about being good at it
You must know how to follow
before you can lead.
Divided into two dimensions
How do they think? (Range = Independent/Critical –
How much are they engaged? (Range = Active to
Not engaged in workflow, but critical thinkers
 15 – 25% of workers
 Festering sores – point out negative, no positive
 Cynical
 Do not try as hard as they could
 Do it “If I have to…”
 Self-described mavericks, just saying what others will not
 Many former exemplary but disgruntled
Yes people.
15 – 25% of workers
Carry out orders without question (can be bad – consider
Nazi movement, Lt. William Calley Vietnam massacre)
Very engaged
20-30% of conformists are conflict avoiders
Conformists can be made exemplary by thinking critically
Eh, not committed, but won’t make waves
 25-35% of workforce
 Do not like to stick out, mediocre performers, survivors
 Fence riders, positive with one group, negative with
another, political
 Self-interested, not willing to take risk
 Rather stick with the rules than the spirit of the rules
 Avoiding failure more important than risking to succeed
Low engagement, uncritical thinkers
 5-10% of workforce
 Share no characteristics of exemplary followers
 Sheep – look to leader for all thinking
 No or low enthusiasm
 No or low initiative
 Seen as lazy, unmotivated or incompetent, but many just
use as a coping mechanism for supervisors who expect
 To improve, they need to change both dimensions or leave
Sheep as Followers:
Strong instinct to follow the
sheep in front of them
When one sheep decides to
go somewhere, the rest of the
flock usually follows
…even if it is not a good
Highly intelligent animals
that have the ability and
instinct to lead a flock home
during difficult conditions
Exceptional ability to sense
High engagement, critical thinkers, independent
 Innovative, self-leaders
 Consistent
 Creative
 Willing to stand up to superiors, loyal no-man
 Devil’s advocate, asks unthought of questions
 But, they do get along with others
 They want the best for the organization and seek it
The most effective
leader/follower relationships
feel like partnerships (Potter,
Rosenbach & Pittman 1996)
Shared goals
Workers do not intend to fail;
will do at least enough to keep
their jobs
Leaders do not intend to
alienate their followers
Followers divided into two dimensions:
Performance Initiative (commitment to performance)
Relationaship Initiative (commitment to develop
Politician – Pays more attention to relationships
than performance – the buddy sergeant (high
relationship/low performance)
Partner – Values relationships and performance –
will use relationships to further performance
(similar to exemplary follower)
Subordinate – does what they are told; similar to
passive follower (passive follower)
Valued Contributor – works hard, quality work,
but not as sensitive to relationships in the workplace
(low relationship/high performance)
Best ships had followers who functioned as a group
Cohesion - high interaction between followers;
tolerance for differences, mutual respect
Below average teams had less mutual support,
communication and coordination
Supporting top leadership
Initiative (Leading Up)
Taking personal responsibility for team performance
Upward Leadership
Leaders need guidance from the ranks
 Filling the void between your subordinates and leader
when there is a gap
 Proactive questioning
 Telling the truth, even when it’s painful
 Understanding the fate of your superior depends on your
actions, as yours depends on your subordinates’ actions
 Do what is needed without having to be asked
 Anticipate your leader’s needs
 Build that capacity in your own subordinates
Keep superiors well informed
Persuade your boss when you see a better path
Step up in moments where you can make a difference –
especially if your boss doesn’t see the opportunity and
the risks are great in missing it
Serve each superior as if he/she were the only, but be
clear about what you have communicated to each
Press your boss for elaboration, and step into the gap is
the leadership is wavering
Build the foundation to allow your leader to implement
Convey intents downwards and interests upwards
Questions, thoughts or comments?
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