A google search for the term – Leadership generates 179,000,000 hits. A similar search for the term Followership generates 510,000. Try searching for a book on Leadership. Now try searching for a book on followership.
Interesting isn’t it? Most of us seem to be focussed on Leadership (and rightly so), however, I believe we need equal focus on Followership – the behaviour of followers, their attitudes, beliefs, fears, concerns and challenges.
If you get leaders to change their behaviors, but you don’t work on the followers…will this slow down the change? For example – Let’s say a tough autocratic leader goes through a 360 degree, takes feedback and decides to change. But, his followers are stuck with their perceptions of him/her and operate from their perceived reality. Unless we do some work with the followers as well, the rate of visible change in the dynamics of the team will be slow.
Look at what is happening in Egypt today. ALL revolutions are a result of a change in followership mindsets.
Is there a case for working on followership to drive change? Using the mass at the bottom of the pyramid to drive change? Influencing the mass and channelising their energies and commitment to executing on the ground?
But in order to do this, we must understand followership as well as we understand leadership.
My take, in organizations that have complacent/rigid
leadership – influence the leadership and leverage the followership. Like Gandhi did by exhorting the nation to rise up. And influenced the leadership by choosing non-violence.
In organizations that have leaders who’re keen to change but are dealing with a rigid/anti-change followership – Leverage the leadership, shake-up and influence the followership. Like Gerstner did with IBM.
And in an organization where both are stuck – you won’t get the job. 😉 I’m kidding! You just work harder!
And lastly, when you are able to mobilize such a large mass of people, the sheer mass leads to a very high level of momentum. Once again – check Egypt!
What do you think? What’s your experience? Talk to me. Leave a thought. Challenge this premise. share an experience. Add value!