Last week we tackled leadership development with five strategies for developing and strengthening the leadership aptitude among your employees. Today our focus is on the followers, the worker bees who dedicate themselves to the follow-through.
Without followers, nothing would be accomplished. Just as the best coach in the world must have hardworking, committed players to win games, the same principle applies to business. Even the best leaders in the most prestigious company cannot do it alone. So, while some may view the role of a follower as the easier route to take, there is a lot more to being a good follower than blindly following directions.
“Good followership is characterized by active participation in the pursuit of organizational goals. In many cases, this means working independently, being accountable for your actions, and taking ownership of necessary tasks,” explains Sue Wigston, an organizational development expert.
As we noted last week, both leaders and followers are needed to accomplish the company’s goals and fulfill its purpose. So, what can management do to bring out the best in their core of worker bees?
· Emphasize their contribution
All too often, followers go unrecognized for their accomplishments and contributions to the company. It is imperative that management not treat followers’ essential role in the company’s success as a “thankless job” or allow others to propagate that mindset. When a workforce feels appreciated and valued, motivation and engagement cannot help but increase.
· Take the time to learn their strengthsT
One size does not fit all when it comes to the strengths and weaknesses of your team. Resist the urge to toss all non-leader-types into one overflowing basket of workers. Bringing out the best in your employees must first involve getting to know them—their strengths and weaknesses, goals and aspirations, and previous work experiences. Guard against the dangerous habit of categorizing anyone who is not in a specified leadership role or who does not exhibit over-the-top leadership ability as somehow less-than and dispensable.
· Stretch them
Just because an employee is content with their role as a follower does not mean they have less motivation to make meaningful contributions to the company. It also doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be open to additional tasks or more responsibility. So, approach a dedicated worker about a promotion or expansion of his/her current position. Ask for feedback and encourage them to share their thoughts and concerns. Then, create clear paths for advancement and provide all the info needed so that everyone is aware of the opportunities.
· Encourage their leadership potential
No one has to be a lifelong resident of either the leader or follower camp. Some of the best followers eventually make some of the best leaders. Their skills may be more learned than innate and may take longer to develop, but nothing is wrong with that. If a dedicated, hardworking follower begins to show an increasing aptitude for leadership, encourage them to develop those skills further.
At A.R. Mazzotta, our pool of talent includes men and women with a wide range of skills. As one of Connecticut’s most experienced and trusted employment agencies, we are passionate about helping your business grow and succeed by matching you with the best and most qualified talent for your hiring needs. So, call us today at 860-347-1626.