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In his July 1997 Toastmaster magazine article called "How to Be a Great Follower", Richard G. Ensman, Jr. stated several qualities he believed are important for this role. He wrote: "Whatever your career or position in life, you'll often find yourself serving as a follower: as a subordinate, a member of a committee, or a participant in a work team. As you strive to fill that role, remember the vocabulary of great followership." The following traits are among those mentioned in the article.
* Complementary - understanding the strengths and limitations of the leader and filling in where needed * Loyalty and Commitment to the leader and their work. * Understanding and articulating the vision and integrating it. * Candor - speaking one's mind clearly, crisply, and convincingly (in private if necessary). * Listening attentively and observing the subtle nuances of what the leader is saying. * Predictability as a good trait because stability is needed within a group. * Helpfulness which is demonstrated when unexpected needs, questions and details arise. * Efficiency which means doing the task quickly and with little cost or aggravation. * Insightful - asking probing questions and fostering new perspectives. * Creativity in striving to develop the ability to bring novel solutions to problems. * Honesty as good followers can be trusted with resources and acting with high standards of integrity. * Persistence in problem solving. * Practicality which leads to thoughtful, positive suggestions. * Communicative with progress reports and developments. * Cheerfulness maintained by an even-tempered disposition and smile - whatever the circumstances
In this writer/publisher's opinion, these qualities are important no matter what your position! These traits are important for whatever role you are performing. Incorporating them into your daily life will benefit you and those around you regardless of whether you are currently the leader or follower.
Another aspect of the role between leaders and followers is, of course, delegating tasks and responsibility. If you don't trust your followers enough to include them in the decision-making process, then you are probably making decisions based on your needs and your perception of the situation- which could be inaccurate. You do this without benefiting from the insight, creativity, and input of those you lead. And you may not be making the best choice because research shows that decisions made by groups of five or more are superior to individual decisions. If you don't trust these people enough to share information with them and ask for their input and opinions when decisions need to be made, why are they on your team?
When you don't trust your followers enough to delegate responsibility to them and leave them alone to get the job done, you are communicating to them that they are inadequate, incompetent, and just don't have what it takes to accomplish the results you want. Which, obviously, is not an effective way to either increase self-esteem or build a team.
The importance of followers is critical to the success of any professional or personal organization. Without them, the day-to-day running of the group would cease to exist. There'd be no one to do the "real work" that keeps the unit alive and well. Treat followers well and you will be rewarded with the type of behavior and attitudes listed above. Your rank of leader will be enhanced as you will have a well-rounded a nd more smoothly operating unit. A dream that can come true!
Copyright 2002 by Virginia Reeves. This article may be reprinted; inform the author via mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on creativity, success, communication, and enhancing your skills and talents for more growth, please click on http://www.rainbowopportunities.ws or mailto:millionairemindset@GetResponse.com (for free bi-monthly e-zine)