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January 24, 2017

Types of Followers

Types of Followers

Success of any team and organization obviously depends on good leadership, players and team members. Good followers are also important. Followership is key.

As John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” As leaders, we follow great principles, most of the time follow other great leaders from afar, and most of the time report to a leader.

Almost everyone is answerable to someone. We are also followers.

I’ll guess most of us know who our boss is, or the lead volunteer, our representative, or even a thought leader. We have someone we follow every week.

A coach reports to the Athletic Director, a private business owner to their customers, an elected official to their constituents, a teacher to the principal, and a player to his coach and team.

So most of us, even those in the role of formal leadership… must also be good followers.

“99% percent of all leadership occurs not from the top, but from the middle of an organization. — Dr John C Maxwell

During our leadership journey, we observe our team and organization. As a coach, we determine what type of players we a have and prepare accordingly.

Business leaders evaluate the make up of their organization and the types of followers may help or hinder reaching their objectives.

So what are the types of followers?

Dr. Robert E. Kelly, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, introduced the concept of “followership” and the five different types.

5 Types of Followers:

  1. The Herd Follower: These people are passive and require external motivation. They lack commitment and require constant supervision.
  2. The Flattering Follower: Members who are committed to the leader and the mission, but are conformist who not only will not question the leader, they tend to stubbornly defend the leader from opposition from others.
  3. The Self-Serving Follower: They are NOT “self-starters”; will not stand behind controversial or unique ideas, until the majority does, and often remain in the background.
  4. The Renegade Follower: These are negative and often attempt to stall or bring the group down by constantly questioning the decisions and actions of the leader. These individuals often view themselves as the rightful leader of the organization and are critical of the leader and fellow group members.
  5. The Ethical Follower: They are positive, active and independent thinkers, who will not blindly accept the decisions or actions of a leader, without evaluation and understanding. They can be trusted and will succeed without a leader being present.

“If I had to reduce the responsibilities of a good follower to a single rule, it would be to “speak truth to power.” — Warren Bennis

The success of teams and organizations are dependent on good followers and good leaders.

So, what kind of follower are you?

Are you the kind of follower you want to be or the team needs?

Are you a successful follower and leader today?

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