Follow the Leader

Follow the Leader

There are many articles and books written about the qualities and attributes of exemplary leadership. Most focus on how great leaders lead and how they make a difference within organizations.

There has been less attention given to the qualities and attributes of the individuals that are led, the followers.

Leaders cannot be great leaders without the presence of great followers. Followers need qualities and attributes that make leading possible.

Organizations have many more followers than they do leaders. It may be fair to say, therefore, ineffective followers may be more of a handicap to an organization than ineffective leaders.

The combination of great leaders and great followers make for a great organization.

What qualities and attributes make great followers? Here are eight for starters:

1. They have developed a skill level from which the organization benefits – knowledge and skills pertinent to the organizations mission.

2. They set a higher standard of performance than is necessary to perform their job.

3. They are good at self management. They perform their functions with little intervention from leadership.

4. They think for themselves and work well within team environments.

5. They are critical thinkers whose knowledge and judgment can be trusted.

6. They take ownership of their own mistakes and have a high level of ethical standards.

7. They come to work to make a difference – for which they receive a paycheck rather than simply coming to work to collect a paycheck.

8. Effective followers are committed to the mission and vision of the organization in addition to the care of their own lives.

There are considerable implications of finding the right followers to lead. When the cost of making a wrong selection decision can be three to 18 times annual salary plus lost knowledge, customer confidence, lower follower morale and lost time the selection process is critical.

The very first step to accruing the right followers is to define what the expectations are for the function they will fill.

Besides the basic skills and knowledge needed, considerable thought must be given to the key results and key accountability for the job function. Specifically, the stakeholders (leaders and current followers) need to define the perfect follower for the specific function in the current organizational culture. The definition requires metrics as a tool for evaluating followers.

In order to add metrics you need to define quantifiable aspects for each of the key results and key accountability. For example:

– The stakeholders define the key results and key accountability
– A scale of 1-10 can be used to define the importance of each key result and accountability
– The stakeholders obtain consensus on the ranking creating a benchmark
– Each follower is then assessed and compared to the benchmark

The result:

– Great leaders get great followers
– Greater productivity and cooperation
– Higher follower morale
– Higher follower retention
– Greater leadership satisfaction
– Higher “Bottom Line”
– Greater return for the shareholders

Jerry Woodrow
Talent Match Plus

Leader 2.0: How Social Media Impacts Leadership

Leader 2.0: How Social Media Impacts Leadership

Facebook. Twitter. Foursquare. Vimeo. YouTube. LinkedIn. Blogs. Podcasts. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a social media revolution and I wanted to talk about its impact on leadership. I watched a short video on the Harvard Business Review’s website called “The Role of Tomorrow’s Leaders” that I’d encourage you to check out when you’ve got a few extra minutes. It’s a conglomeration of current leaders talking about the challenges that leaders will face in the future and many of them talked about how social media will change the manner in which leaders lead. In this second in a three part series on leadership, I’ll talk about the ways that social media impacts leadership. As coaches, we tell our student-athletes to be mindful of who they friend on Facebook and not to put anything up that they don’t want their mothers to see…but is that social media’s only impact on what we do?

3 Ways Social Media Affects Coaching That You Probably Hadn’t Thought About

1. Teams won’t follow blindly: My high school coach was old school. You know the type: I tell you what to do and you don’t ask any questions. Well, those days are long gone, my friend! I’m sure that I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know. Our athletes have access to much more information than ever before and that’s great. But now they can go home from practice and search for drills to help whatever problem it is they think they have and then come back to practice the next day and tell you what you need to do in order to solve their problem. That wouldn’t fly for old school coach, but Leader 2.0 understands that there’s an overload of information out there on the internet and that it’s our job to help frame that information. We want them to be interested enough that they’re searching for information, but to respect their coach’s knowledge and vision for the team. Leader 2.0’s easy fix: be knowledgeable.

2. The ugly side of social media: These days, an unhappy parent or player can negatively impact a coach in very real ways. We don’t like to talk about it, but where there’s a team, there’s someone who’s not happy with their role on it! It used to be that we just worried about team “cancers” grumbling underneath their breath, now we’ve got to worry about them setting up a “I Hate Coach Dawn…Don’t You?” Facebook page and soliciting “likes” for it. I know that there are coaches out there who say that social media’s not for them, but for the young folks…I don’t think that’s a very empowering stance to take. Leader 2.0’s easy fix: at the lowest level, check out what’s being said about you by doing an internet search; higher level leaders would be proactive and put their own information out there.

3. Distributed leadership: As I said before, the days of the old school “my way or the highway” coaching style has passed, being replaced with a distributed style of leadership. It’s something that sports teams have done forever, but now it’s more pronounced. Distributed leadership looks like a head leader (or head coach, of course) with different sets of leaders place amongst the team. Most of us have captains who serve as our team leaders, but we can also have other folks with less defined leadership roles…but they are leaders nonetheless. As the head coach, be sure to meet with your team’s leaders so that they can be advocates for you and your system, but also to help you gauge your team’s atmosphere. Leader 2.0’s easy fix: train your leaders on what leadership looks like to you…that’ll keep your frustration level low.

As coaches and leaders, let’s actively embrace social media and its impact on our teams, our recruits, and our lives.

Dawn Redd is the Head Volleyball Coach at Beloit College. Come visit Coach Dawn’s community of coaching nerds and team leaders over at her blog,, where she teaches how to become an excellent coach, motivate individuals, and build successful teams.