Dollars and Sense: The art of followership in the workplace

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Everybody has a boss. Even the Chief Executive Officer reports to the stockholders and the individual proprietor must respond to customers or clients. Every leader starts as a follower and continues to be a follower no matter how high a level he or she reaches.

Professor Robert Kelley of Carnegie-Mellon University noted:

&8220;People actually play both roles (leader and follower) and need both skills, but the quest for being a good leader can be hampered by not being a good follower.&8221;

Know Your Boss&8217; Job Goals: Not only do you need to be a good employee, and anticipate your boss&8217; needs, you need to also know your boss&8217; job goals.

Michael Stephens had been Personnel Director of his company for many years.

One of the long-range goals he had for the department was the computerization of personnel records.

However, his boss was not too enthusiastic about this so he had to put this goal on the back burner.

His assistant, Sarah, had absolutely no interest in computerizing anything.

However, she understood how much that goal meant to Michael.

Sarah enrolled in a course in computers at her local college.

She read all the articles she could locate on computerizing personnel records.

She attended a seminar on this and spoke to other personnel people who had computerized their files. By doing this, she not only was able to help Michael develop the necessary tools to sell this concept to his boss, but she developed a wealth of knowledge that was useful to her in developing her own long-tern goals.

By good listening and careful observation you can learn what the boss really wants from the job and by giving a little extra effort and time to those projects, you can be extremely valuable to your boss and contribute to the accomplishment of those goals.

Good leaders need followers who are not just sycophants, who always agree with them.

A good follower should not be afraid to call to his boss&8217; attention matters of ethics, public image and judgment.

In this way, the follower provides a service that will not only result in better management on the part of the leader, but will help the follower groom him or herself for future leadership roles