A few weeks ago I started a two-part series on followership to point out the important role following plays in being an effective leader. Here are three more suggestions to help you develop your followership skills.
Provide opportunities for others to lead you.
Ah, yes, once again the curse of the control freak raises its ugly head. Giving up control, even temporarily, to someone else can be tough for people with large egos or personas and who are in the habit of running things. But, sometimes the best way to demonstrate great leadership is to let somebody else run the show while we sit in the back of the room and support their efforts. This doesn’t mean abdicating authority. It means delegating it. And usually it means coming to terms with our own need to feel in control.
This need to feel in control can get even stronger when it comes to delegating authority to a family member. We tell ourselves, “What can my brother (sister, son, daughter, spouse, etc.) know? I’ve known them for 30 years, and they’re not smart enough to be in charge.”
But, if we’re ever going to unlock the handcuffs that can shackle us to our businesses, we’re going to have to give people the freedom to stretch and grow…and occasionally fail.
Do real work in support of others instead of only in reverse.
It’s sometimes easy for leaders to get caught up in the heady role of leading and to forget that somebody has to do real work to get things done.
A great way to demonstrate followership is to roll up your sleeves, get down in the trenches, and do some of the heavy lifting in support of the person who’s leading.
“What can I do to help?” “Is there anything you need that I can get you?” “What would you like me to do?” These may seem like simple questions, but they bring deep meaning to the person you’re supporting when you’re sincere about helping.
Become a master “net worker” instead of the main net.
Leaders are used to being the “go-to” guys. But sometimes the best go-to guy isn’t you at all. Sometimes it’s somebody who knows a lot more about a subject than you do. When that’s the case, the best thing you can do is introduce your person to that other somebody.
When you expand the network of people you know either through business or community associations, social organizations, or even reading, you expand the library of resources available not only to you, but to your people as well. I think John Maxwell said it best when he quipped, “Some very smart people have done some of my best thinking.”
So, as you work to develop your own leadership skills and those of the people in your organization, look for opportunities to follow, as well as lead. When you do this, my guess is you’ll find more people who will want to follow your leadership.