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Tips on How to Be a Courageous Follower

Updated on September 21, 2010

What does it take to be an effective follower or employee? From the point of view of the follower, what are the dynamics of an effective employer employee relationship or leader follower relationship? How can an employee or follower best contribute to the work of a business or organization in a way that both the needs of the organization and his own needs are fulfilled to their optimal levels. This hub takes a look at some of the principles offered by followership expert Robert Kelley which he shared in his book The Power of Followership.

In his book Kelley highlights the following characteristics of effective followers; they include:

  1. Effective Followers See Themselves as Equals of Their Leaders
  2. Effective Followers Understand Their Leader's Needs, Goals, and Objectives
  3. Efffective Followers Work Cooperatively with Leaders.
  4. Effective Followers Openly and Unapologetically Share Contrary Opinions



Effective Followers See Themselves as Equals of Their Leaders

According to Kelley, effective followers see themselves as equals of their leaders. This means that the follower does not see the employer employee or leader follower relationship as one of superior inferior but rather as one of two members of the same organization with different roles who share the same responsibility to fulfill the goals and objectives of the organization. Effective followers in no way diminish their own personal self-worth in comparison to their leader.

Same Direction

Effective Followers Understand the Leader's Needs, Goals, and Constraints

Secondly, effective followers seek to understand the needs, goals, and constraints of the leader. This means that the outstanding employee or follower takes concerted time and effort to ask pertinent questions related to the organization, the leader, and related projects in order to gain a deep understanding of where the company is headed and how best to fulfill the vision, goals, an objectves of the employer or leader.


Effective Followers Work Cooperatively with the Leader

Thirdly, the effective follower works cooperatively with the leader rather than adversarially. This means that the outstanding employee or follower chooses to suppress his own ego in order that it will not interfere with the needs, goals, and objectives of the employer or leader. This does not mean that they are mindless yes-men, but rather are willing to set aside their own rights to be heard or get their own way in order to make an honest assessment of ideas under discussion.

Sharing Ideas

Effective Followers Openly and Unapologetically Share Contrary Opinions

Fourth, the effective follower openly and unapologetically shares contrary opinions when necessary. Outstanding employees or followers are not merely yes-men who blindly follow their employers or leaders. When they disagree with a decision or proposed direction because they believe it flies in the face of company objectives they share it out of duty to the organization. Of course, when effective followeres disagree and feel the need to confront the leader or employer on an issue, they do so discreetly and politely in private at an appropriate times.


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    • Woody Marx profile image

      Woody Marx 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      well I've never seen it put this way before...the advantages and techniques to being a follower...something new and helpful too!

    • ecoggins profile image

      ecoggins 7 years ago from Corona, California

      Lilly thank you again for your encouraging comment. I appreciate the feedback you give.

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 7 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      Very Interesting Hub! Thank you, this would have been nice to have learned about 30 years ago! :0)