Followership Education

Followership Education

In my previous post, we looked at the types of followership, in this post, we will look at how I develop followership and what sort of followership education techniques are available to us.

I have had the pleasure of delivering leadership and management courses for the last 10 years. It is thoroughly enjoyable and I have witnessed major changes in individuals behaviours and outcomes.

The courses I delivered had the usual leadership and management content along with numerous activities and time for personal reflection. One element that was taught and reinforced throughout the courses was for the attendees to not only focus on being a good leader and using all the leadership tools but also to display excellent followership qualities.

When the team showed excellent followership qualities, the leader, the team and the task invariably had greater success and were always more effective and efficient. In this post, I am going to talk about how we develop followership qualities in individuals, teams and the organisation.

Followership Education

This is how I do it and is by no means the only way to do it.  When delivering followership education I always start with a presentation on the rules of followership followed by a facilitated discussion on how easy or hard they are to achieve.

Do we then talk about what problems are caused by bad followership? The question that follows this is what are the benefits of good followership to the employee, the manager and the business. This is done by breaking the group into small teams and giving each group a flipchart page with a comments area for the employee, the manager and the business/organisation.

I then challenge each individual to write down and then state what they can do to be good followers and empower and encourage others to do the same. The video below is used to follow up on the discussion but can be used to start the discussion by using it at the start.

Once we have watched the video we then split the attendees into small groups to discuss barriers to followership with suggested solutions on how to remove those barriers.

Embedding Followership in the Organisations Culture

The starting point for embedding good followership practice in an organisation is delivering followership education to all managers and employees using the methods mentioned above. However, to truly embed good followership there need to be further educational activities.

These activities start with coaching senior management on good followership and getting them to fully buy into the benefits.  This is achieved by delivering a shortened version of the followership education programme to the executive management with a focus on the positive outcomes especially financial and cultural. If you can make these links and sell it well and secure follow up coaching sessions to help senior leadership display good followership values then you are halfway to embedding them within the organisation’s culture.

To fully embed good followership, within the organisation, you must ensure that once you have delivered the initial followership education you must have ongoing coaching and mentoring sessions and activities to engage and reinforce the good followership rules.

Followership Activities

The following list of activities can be used to reinforce good followership:

  1. 1 to 1 coaching of senior management with the aim of developing good followership practices.
  2. Coaching and mentoring middle and junior management to ensure good followership is still being practised.
  3. Every 3 months have a 1-hour followership forum to discuss issues and identify best practices.
  4. Annual followership reward for the individual or team displaying the best followership behaviours.

These are just a few examples but there are many more.

The Open University offers a free Leadership and Followership course here.

Followership Further Reading

A great read
A great book that gives you information about a holistic approach to Leadership that includes followership and developing the team, not just the Leader.

4 thoughts on “Followership Education

  1. water life Reply

    Dear David, I read your article and I found it very interesting.

    In your video, too I found leadership secrets that will help you manage more as a businessman and make the most of your power for the benefit of your team. I think its ideal for all types of job. 

    In my opinion, you could mention in another article about essential mistakes that can lead a leader to crash,
    or how does a leader lose his popularity? You can also explain about the most common misconception that is created sometimes, as some managers confuse the leadership with autocracy. I believe these will be important sections of your techniques. 

     They all are very useful to many people. Congratulations.

    Regards. Thodoris.

    • David Casaru Reply

      Hi Thodoris, 

      Thank you for the comments.  I really appreciate the feedback and the ideas.  I can confirm that in my leadership posts I will be covering the areas that you have mentioned.  

      Like you, I do believe that many managers do mistake leadership for autocracy and default to the autocratic leadership style which generally alienates their employees and stifles innovation and development. However I think this is down to the fact that many organisations do not train there managers or give them the tools of leadership. This leads to new managers developing bad habits based on what they see in the moves or from what they have seen their own boss do which unfortunately can lead to a terrible organisational culture.

  2. Todd Matthews Reply

    I think good followership starts with those working in a company who buy into their values. For me, it would be simple: If I believe in the value of the company I’m working in, I’ll definitely become a better follower. So, if I were to do the writing exercise, my example would be a good company, along with good, ethical leadership, would make me a better follower. 

    • David Casaru Reply

      Hi Todd, 

      Thank for the comments, it is really appreciated. 

      I agree with your comments. To enable good followership there has to be a culture and environment that allows it to grow and be embraced.  If an organisation does not have the values and culture that enable this they will always struggle to get good followers and therefore good leaders and this will usually lead to high turnover of staff.  

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