Why Followship…and why now?
Over the last 30+ years I have been working with and for organisations that spend huge amounts of time effort and money developing leaders and focussing on leadership. I am a great advocate of L&D and I have certainly seen some creative examples of leadership development. I have noticed though that in larger teams the wider workforce are not considered in this narrative. They are often provided with ‘upskilling’ training, learning journeys about improving technical prowess etc. so it’s not that organisations don’t try. I have even seen them adapt leadership models to fit middle and junior managers, team leaders, supervisors and staff with some success it but often it ends up with a ‘leadership and the rest’ type approach.
Rarely have I seen a simple set of rules that transform behaviours, change how the team works, improve the quality of conversations, give a common language for all to use and drive a more collaborative and open climate. Hence I created the #FollowshipRules.
Followship is a choice. It is not given by any position in a hierarchy nor is it linked to talent, rank or authority. In the Followship model the strength and power lies with the follower. Many leaders draw comfort from metrics like participation, completion, attendance. They mistake obligation for choice.
For example, I often talk to leaders who are very focussed on getting a 100% completion rate to a staff survey. Not only is this a pointless exercise…but it proves their lack of followers. If they were being followed, they would not need a survey to garner feedback and would not think that 100% of the people they work with giving them feedback is anything other than a forced narrative. Their followers would be constantly connected to them…keeping them in sight, taking the tension out of the ropes that join them…and course correcting. As for the rest of the people….well feedback from them is window dressing!
Please don’t misunderstand me, there is huge value in knowing and understanding what the people in an organisation think. It is critical for all sorts of reasons. What a staff survey is not however, is a measure of the number of followers a leader has and even less a measure of the level of engagement of those followers, however ‘good’ the feedback may be. You see… completion of a survey requires little or no investment or commitment from the follower. It simply needs them to set aside maybe 20-30 minutes (usually very close to the completion deadline…which in itself says something!) and for the team member to provide the answers to questions set by the leaders.
Followship is a significant investment of time, energy and effort for the follower and will require them to constantly be connected to the leader, providing both stimulus and response to shape mutual behaviours. By using the #FollowshipRules the very idea of surveys is redundant, replaced by a constant dialogue, debate and discourse that moves everyone up the mountain! Followship is a choice – a tough one. It demands more and better from both follower and leader.
#FollowshipRules are right for these times. Everything about them resonates with our world today.
· Keep the Leader in sight – especially true of the leaders in our society
· Take the tension out of the rope – lean in and help those around you
· Course correct – be brave enough and organised enough to change the course our leaders take when we can see disaster looming
We will explore the full concepts behind Followship over the coming weeks and months. We are developing a diagnostic tool to help you understand where your organisation is and a Followship programme to embed the behaviours in you and in your team.
The only thing leaders have in common is followers…we should track that as a KPI!
Chris Hallam – Creator of #FollowshipRules
If you would like to know more contact us for a discussion on how Followship and Followship Rules can help you and your team