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The Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0032| December 18, 2001
7,700 Subscribers


Group Management & Awareness Skill

Great Leaders/Facilitators Are Great Followers

An effective leader or facilitator knows how to follow others. 


The Point?

We've heard a lot in the business world about the importance of good leadership, attributes of a good leader, the importance of being a (fill in the blank) type of leader, etc. But we've not heard much about the attributes and importance of good followership. Since by definition, there will always be more followers than leaders, don't you think this is be an important skill to explore? 

Let's start by looking at followership from this perspective. Its been said that there are no poor followers, only ineffective leaders. This would presuppose that followership is not all that important. And on the surface, this sounds good, but if you look closely, it puts the entire brunt of responsibility for any group effort solely upon the leader. Could this have anything to do with why groups of people have such a difficult time getting things done? 

I think this is a big part of the problem with groups. Further, I think that the traits of an effective follower are similar, if not identical to those of an effective leader. So if everyone on a team has effective leadership/followership skills, then the work of the leader and of the team will be that much easier and that much more effective.

But how does this apply to facilitation, you ask? Well, as facilitators, you may often work with groups seeking to improve their own process and their ability to self-facilitate, i.e. to "lead" themselves, thereby providing what's been referred to as "developmental" facilitation
.

As a developmental facilitator, your ultimate goal will to be to work yourself out of the leadership role. If the group is amenable to taking the lead, you'll need to relinquish "control" over the group, at times and assume the humble task of the follower. You may even play the role of participant to model for others how to be a good follower. 

I believe that facilitation is needed not only because groups often need help in leading themselves, but just as importantly, they need help in learning how to effectively follow the leader. All good leaders need to be followers occasionally for the good of the team, and without a great team, great leadership amounts to nothing.


Example

So what are the attributes of a good follower? A good follower might be described as follows (pun intended!):

- They accept, understand, and follow direction and instruction from the leader. But they don't blindly follow direction and they aren't passive wall flowers either.
- They are active rather than passive. They will not blindly follow instructions without first understanding all that they need to know to carry out a task and how it supports the group's mission.
- They are responsible. Good followers accept responsibility for their own actions and for the decisions of the group. This may require questioning or even opposing leadership that is against the good of the group or against greater values. 
- They are creative and resourceful. 
Good followers do not need to be told everything. Given a task, they will find ways and means to accomplish it without further direction.
- They are flexible and able to change direction midstream if necessary to support the group's greater good.
- They are loyal and dependable.
Good followers accept being a part of a team and recognize that, at times, they may need to compromise some of their own individual desires for the good of the team. They feel good about themselves by contributing to the group.
- They view the success of their team or organization as their own. Therefore, they step in and provide leadership or fall back into follower mode based on the leadership needed in the group at any given moment.

Action

Your assignment this week is to assess your prowess as a follower. Try exercising one of the characteristics of a good follower that may be rusty for you. We're interested in hearing about your experiences. Please email us your stories and perspectives. We'd love to get hear from you!


cartoon image of a talking man.

Reader Survey 
As a "Meeting" Facilitator, what do you do to make meetings interesting and dynamic?  

As facilitators, or even as group members, we are sometimes asked to lead working meetings. Often these turn into long, boring status reporting sessions that would better be handled with an email. Our question this week is:

What do you do to make meetings interesting, engaging, productive, and fun?

We appreciate your ideas on this question that would be valuable for other readers to know about. We may use your responses as a resource for future issues of the journal or for other works.  Please email us your responses. All those who respond will be sent the entire collection of responses. Thanks so much for your consideration of our request.


If you know someone who might benefit and enjoy this newsletter, please send this link to a friend.


picture of Steve Davis, editor of the Master Facilitator Journal.

About the Author: 
Steve Davis is a Business and Life Coach facilitating others to reach  their full potential in their business and personal lives. Please email your stories, comments, suggestions, and ideas. Or call me at 800-216-3854. I'd love to hear from you. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. Thanks for reading! 


In the Spotlight

Dear Reader,

I apologize for this piece being off the topic of facilitation, but we're just excited about publishing our first e-book and wanted to share it with you. It will help people save time and frustration in the long run by reducing their spam burden, so you could say this book "facilitates" freedom from spam! If you are interested in it and decide to purchase a copy, we'd love to hear your feedback.

Warmest regards,

Steve Davis


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Sincerely,

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How Do I Stop Spam?
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 Copyright 2001. Mastery Unlimited. All rights reserved.                                           

 

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Thank you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal.  Look for your next issue on December 25, 2001. 

 

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