Chapter 30. Followership

Jason Wong

Everyone likes to talk about leadership—we are culturally conditioned to view success as a progression through leadership positions—but far less attention is paid to being a good follower. In fact, when most people think of themselves as followers, it’s often accompanied with negative feelings, like being judged as meek or submissive. As if being a follower comes at the expense of being a leader. But in reality, every leader in an organization is following someone, and so it serves us well to remember to live up to those responsibilities.

Models of Followership

There are many models of followership out there that give us a handy way of understanding follower behaviors for our reports and for ourselves. One model I’m fond of is the Chaleff model, shown in Figure 30-1, which describes two axes: the degree of support a follower gives a leader and the degree to which the follower is willing to question or challenge the leader’s behavior or policies. These axes give rise to four distinct follower styles:

Resources display low support and low challenge. They do what is requested of them, but little more. They’re just trying to get by and do just enough to retain their position.

Implementers demonstrate high support but low challenge. They take orders and don’t ask questions. It’s easy to love this type of follower because they just get things ...

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