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Are you a good follower?

Forget effective leadership for a moment.

The real question is, are you a good follower?

Being a good follower

So often we hear how ‘the boss’ or ‘management’ are not doing things as they should be.

Blame. And I admit I have fallen into the ‘blame game’ trap at times.  Although we should not cast aspersions, we are all human.

Let’s face it, everyone gets things wrong. Bad decisions, bad behaviour and bad leadership happens.

But, when we are faced with situations in our organisation we think are wrong, or could have been done better, it’s how we respond that truly counts.

How we react is what determines whether or not we are good ‘followers’. And ironically, being a good follower (even if you are a senior leader) is an inadvertent sign of good leadership.

Good ‘followership’ takes courage, initiative, energy, discipline, commitment and hard work.

But the payoff is a greater sense of control over your situation and the building of a healthier company culture – one which demonstrates feedback, self-responsibility and accountability.

Also, it just feels better to react with integrity, creativity and foresight. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

In my ‘above the line and below the line blog’, I discuss how looking through the window and pointing the finger at others actually makes us feel worse, not better, in the long run, because it relinquishes our power.

So, the next time you feel compelled to complain  about the latest thing ‘management’ has done to stuff things up, ask yourself this:

What is within my power to improve this or make a difference?

Whether it is providing feedback in a constructive manner, coming up with some alternative solutions to the problem (and presenting them in a well thought out manner) or, if it is beyond our control, learning to accept the situation and not contribute further to it by speaking negatively.

If you find yourself spiraling into an ocean of polluted negative waters, think about the environment you find yourself in. Perhaps it is time to move on.

Viktor Frankl is one of the world’s most extreme and successful examples of this approach to life.  Faced with what we would all term as unbelievable hardship and inconceivable limitations to choice and life, he still chose how to respond.

We may not be incarcerated in a Nazi war camp, but we can take a leaf out of his book and decide to respond to our environment or situation in a positive way.

Show good followership, as well as good leadership and you will naturally become a better leader.

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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