Monday, March 4, 2013

You Get the Followers You Deserve

Look around your organization, if its small enough, or your department. Are the people in it generally at the same level of assertiveness? You might be the reason. Your leadership style might be creating the kind of followers that survive under that style. Any other kinds of followers may have bailed.

Using followership categories by Kelley (and Chaleff), we can see that there are four types of followers: Passive (Resource), Conformist (Implementer), Alienated (Individualist) and Exemplary (Partner). Another person aligned these with situational leadership styles as determined by Blanchard and Hersey: telling, selling, participating and delegating (or telling, selling, consulting, joining). Those styles are related to how much relational energy is put forth, and how much task focus is present. Low relational energy leaves our styles closer to telling and selling (i.e. overcoming questions and objections to our decisions). High relational energy leads more towards participating and delegating.

If you gravitate more toward telling and selling, perhaps you really want passive (resource) and conformist (implementer) followers in your organization. You don't want independent, critical thinkers that might challenge you.

You can't be everywhere so wouldn't it be good to have people actively supporting the organization and working toward the goals. When you're not around, don't you want them to be able to make the right kinds of decisions. They need to be critical thinkers. But you don't want them to be alienated.

Question: how then can you promote exemplary followers and partners? Perhaps by deciding more often with their input and their involvement in the decisions, you can get more participation and delegation. They'll have buy-in. Won't they be actively supporting you? Of course, they will. You're not treating them like a 'resource' or a tool.

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