Leaders need EFFECTIVE Followers, to be SUCCESSFUL
Followers are just as important as Leaders.
It was yet another day of “royal” hell at the “royal” palace, teaching the “royal” student.
As the sun mocked me through the golden brocades, I began yet another “fruitless” day, trying to drive in the “nuances” of mathematics into the echoing caverns of my simpleton student.
It was a catch-22 situation.
On one hand was a student who was more interested in satisfying the hunger pangs of an ever protruding stomach, rather than filling the empty recesses of his brain. On the other hand, was the brutal “royal highness” who had instructed me not to leave until the prince becomes a genius in all areas of wisdom known to man.
How I wished to be the master of my own Kingdom with my own followers and own rules!!
And then I noticed the lamp, strikingly similar to Aladdin’s mystical lamp, lying under my feet.
I jumped at the opportunity and rubbed it, right, left and bottom.
The Genie as expected, huge, fat and mustached came out in style!!!
“You are my master. Please tell me your wish”.
I did not even hesitate a second.
“Make me the master of all social media. I want to have millions of followers in Medium, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other media available in this world. Every day I want to wake up to millions of shares, trillions of likes and countless comments on my posts. My followers should propagate my wisdom far and wide and create a golden place for me in the annals of history.”
Then suddenly, a cacophony of deadening alarm bells broke this wonderful picture!!
I came back to earth, waking up to the sound of the “cruel” alarm clock tearing my matchbox apartment!!!
But the Dream set me thinking!!!
In today’s world we only talk about leaders, leadership and leadership Traits. In fact, we have more than 900 million posts only on leadership as on today.
We talk about “7 Effective Habits of Great Leaders”, “25 Amazing ways in which leaders can improve productivity” and “10 time tested ways in which Leaders can avoid Stress and Burnouts”. We also sometimes talk about “Toxic” Leaders and “Myriad” ways to avoid toxicity at the workplaces.
But, the pertinent question is, why is there no talk on FOLLOWERS? Aren’t followers as important as leaders? Are Followers been taken as granted?
If a small fry writer like me, dreams of getting Great followers to propagate my wisdom across the world, Don’t you think Great World Leaders who solve complex organizational and world problems would need the RIGHT FOLLOWERS to implement their vision and carry forward their legacy?
In this Blog let us only talk about GREAT followers and how a leader can “Select” the right set of followers to take his vision Forward.
So how can any leader select the “RIGHT” follower?
I have tried to analyze the various traits that is required in any good follower, and have finally boiled necessary characteristics down to just two key attributes which are mandatorily required for any good follower:
· Follow the leader — How much is the follower willing and inclined to follow the leader’s vision.
· Achieve results — How efficient is the follower in delivering outputs and achieving results as per the expectations of the leader.
I plotted a 2X2 matrix with “Follow the leader” on the vertical axis and “Achieve Results” on the horizontal axis with the scales ranging from low to high. The results are as below:
The Different Types of Followers
The Blue Eyed Boy
They are the backbone of any leader’s dreams. A leader should nurture them, give them responsibilities and provide every opportunity possible for them to enhance their leadership skills. They are the future leaders. They percolate the leader’s vision and outputs to every corner of the organization.
The Loose Cannon
These guys may be very good technically and can also deliver great results. But they have an independent steak in them which might not always be in the best interest of any organization. Leaders need to reign them and make sure that they do not deviate from the planned direction. These are the guys who once motivated and convinced by the leader can work wonders for the organization.
They only serve their personal interests and only “align” with the leader to make sure that their interests are enhanced. They are equivalent to empty vessels who only make sound and have no content in them. These guys are a nuisance and should be weeded by the leader as soon as possible.
The Trouble Maker
They need to be avoided if possible. A leader should make sure that he identifies and isolates these people as early as possible before they do any further harm.
Bringing Back all Together
A follower takes the vision of the leader forward. They are the liquid that flows through the heart of any organization, cleaning it of all inefficiencies and helping it to proceed on the correct path. A REAL follower not only implement the changes envisioned by the leader but are also future leaders who can take and carry the vision forward to greater heights.
One Word of Caution
We are dealing with people here and people cannot be categorized always into four straight boxes. There will be people with multiple shades of grey and black, people who overlap multiple boxes and people who fail to fit into any category. These resources require the judicious judgment of the leader and his expertise to get the maximum out of them.
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About the author-:
Ravi Rajan is a global IT program manager based out of Mumbai, India. He is also an avid blogger, Haiku poetry writer, archaeology enthusiast and history maniac. Connect with Ravi on LinkedIn, Medium and Twitter.
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