Are you a team member hoping to step into a leadership role someday? This article is for you. By working on developing the qualities of good followership, you are preparing yourself to be an effective leader when the opportunity comes along. Why? Great personal leaders know how to lead as well as step back and follow at times. Learning to follow and serve your fellow team members allows you to develop the humility and empathy that good leadership requires.  Here are some essential qualities you can work on now:

Understand Expectations.

 In order to show competence and reliability, you have to know exactly what your role is. Be sure that your responsibilities have been clearly communicated to you by the leadership in your company.  In addition, find out the performance standards and range of authority you have. Maintain consistent contact with your leader to reduce miscommunication and inconsistencies. Be polite but persistent to resolve conflict or ambiguity. You can’t be a successful follower if the parameters between you and the leadership haven’t been clearly set up.

Take Initiative.

 Great team members take the personal initiative to problem solve issues that keep them from achieving their goals and objectives. Personal initiative can be done in different forms, including solving the problem on your own or pointing out roadblocks and suggesting ways to solve problems to your team members. 

Keep Leadership Informed.

 Throughout the process, keep the leader informed of the important decisions or actions that you are taking. This will help the leader avoid the embarrassment of finding out what is going on from others and will foster trust and respect between you and the leader.

 Give Sound, Timely Feedback. 

As a good follower, you have a great deal of power over what the leader knows or doesn’t know, and this affects the quality of the decisions he or she makes. For this reason, be sure to give clear, accurate information to the leader of your team. Pass along good and bad news with full disclosure so that you don’t appear to have a “hidden agenda.” If you can’t verify information, indicate that it may be questionable or limited.

Support Efforts by Leaders for Positive Change. 

True positive and lasting changes require cooperation from many staff members within an organization.  It cannot be done unilaterally by one great leader. Because all change meets resistance, support and encourage the leader throughout the process to help them deal with the stress and additional frustrations they may be dealing with.

Challenge a Leader’s Faulty Ideas or Strategies.

 This is tricky, but it is a hallmark of a loyal follower.  To approach this situation, start by expressing the respect you have for the leader and your intention to be helpful. Lay out your disagreement with genuine concern. Be specific about the problems that have arisen or will arise. Avoid any kind of personal critique or attack on the leader’s ability or skills. If the leader questions your sincerity, request a broader discussion  with other respected team members regarding the flaws in an idea or strategy.

By developing the qualities listed above, you are well on your way to transitioning to a leadership role. Stay tuned for our next article for additional qualities of a good follower.

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