As I was getting close to completing my latest program, I became more aware of the growing market for leadership training. There are now probably about a bajillion different leadership books out there. The more I paid attention to this fact, the more I began to come to the realization that not everyone can be a leader. Some people have to be followers because a leader without followers is basically a one-man wolf pack.
I’ve come up with some characteristics of followers and what I think would make someone a good follower. I suppose someone could argue that being a good follower is like being a leader—a leader of followers. Wouldn’t that then make the next best follower a leader and so on and so on? It defeats the point of this post and since I’m already writing it, we’ll continue.
Now, I will add a disclaimer that most of these will be more applicable to a business or other team-oriented setting, but I’m sure they can apply to other areas where there would be leaders and followers.
TYPES OF FOLLOWERS
The Yes-ManQuite possibly the most popular type of follower. A Yes-Man will tell his leader exactly what they want to hear and agree with them on anything no matter the situation.
The AnchorThis person is pretty much dead weight. They don’t do their share for the team and keep the team from moving ahead. It usually has something to do with their passive-aggressive nature and perhaps a negative attitude towards the leader. Picture a toddler having a fit who just drops to the floor and his mother has to drag him out of a store.
The Slave will work themselves ragged often to the detriment of their own health and personal life. They feel obligated to do it.
They work long hours and make sure everyone else knows how much they do and what they’ve had to sacrifice because of it.
The Idolater puts their leader on a pedestal and sees no wrong in them. They scold anyone who speaks negatively about, or disagrees with, their leader. They basically worship their leader and the ground on which he or she walks.
Like a small child The Toddler questions everything—what the leader says, what they do, and tasks given to them.
Always to get ahead of others, The Lane-Changer will do whatever it takes to get the front of the pack.
The Scene-StealerThis person loves to take credit for everything. They want to be center stage, but won’t admit it.
The Howdy DoodyA talking puppet. They are controlled and manipulated by the leader into doing whatever the leader wants.
The Incomplete Donkey [think about it]
They cut corners and look for easier ways to do things. Their quality of work is poor and it shows.
The Harvey DentThis person will be behind the leader a hundred percent when the leader is in the room, but then takes no time voicing their opinion to their teammates, often causing dissention.
The Siamese TwinThey never leave the leader’s side. Can also be called The Kiss-Ass.
I’m sure this list can go on and on. Keep in mind that people can be combinations of these, so they might not fit into just one category.
What might make a good follower? Here are some key qualities I think a good follower should possess:
They see the bigger picture of the team
They recognize that there is a common goal and they embrace their part in achieving it.
They contribute constructive ideas
They brainstorm and offer up well thought out ideas in order to help meet the goal.
They save their complaints for private
They don’t air their grievances in front of the whole team. Ideally, they can share their concerns with the leader one on one.
They don’t take it personal
If one of their ideas gets shot down, or their assignment is given to someone else, they realize that it’s best for the team.
They support the decision or outcome regardless of their opinion
If they don’t agree with the final decision, they don’t go around bad-mouthing the leader or the team and telling people how wrong the final product was.
They give their best effortHalf-assed isn’t even in their vocabulary.
They are okay with not getting credit
If their name isn’t on the final product, or they don’t a personal thank you note from the corporate office, they can live with it.
They aren’t locked into a “job description”They will do what it takes to help the team meet their goal even if it means doing something a little different than what they’re used to.
I’m sure we’ll never see a whole section of books at Barnes and Noble for Follower Development, but that doesn’t mean being a good follower isn’t important.
Now, get back to work. I need those TPS reports on my desk by 8.