In our last article, we began to look at qualities of a good follower. Here are some additional traits found in loyal, committed team members.
Show Appropriate Appreciation and Recognition. Leaders face a great deal of pressure and responsibility. When unacknowledged, leaders can feel unappreciated or taken for granted. By being sensitive to the stress level and needs of your leader, you can give much appreciated support and encouragement in a professional manner. This shouldn’t be confused with “brown-nosing” simply to gain favor.
Lead Up. Give “upward” coaching or counseling when the need is there. Leadership is not exclusive to the leader of your team. There are times when you have a new or inexperienced leader that could benefit from your experience or expertise in a given situation. Be willing and ready to provide upward coaching if the opportunity arises and the leader is receptive. For more information on upward coaching, check out a book written by Michael Useem titled Leading Up. How To Lead Your Boss So You BOTH WIN.
Say No When You Should. As a follower, you should never accept abusive or less than ethical behavior from your leader. One of your main roles as a supportive team member is to be a “conscience” for your team or organization, and bad leadership behavior that is immoral or abusive is unacceptable. Challenge these flaws when you see them so they don’t become habit. Be firm and diplomatic with your leader when addressing these issues, shedding light on the negative consequences it has brought to the team or organization. Your loyalty to your leadership must be balanced against your personal values as well as the organizational and societal values for which we adhere.
Followership is an important training ground that can prepare you for future leadership roles. By using balance, self-management, and flexibility, you can develop the leadership skills necessary to take on that next leadership opportunity with confidence!
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