» What Is Followership? What Is Followership? – David Marquet

What Is Followership?

Nudge – What Is Followership?

For this weeks’ Leadership Nudge I want to talk about followership. Followership is embedded in the concept of leadership, but what is followership?

Here’s what it is. Let’s say you have an organization and you have three levels of leadership. You have the top leader at level 1 and leaders at levels 2 and 3. Each of these people is a leader in making their own decisions on how to follow the principles of the organization. This includes the leader at the top. They are all leaders, but they are also all followers. They are all following the principles. This is the correct approach.

The incorrect approach is what we see too often. It is where followership means I follow you, and you follow your boss, and there is no connection with the principles. We often say there is, but in reality there is very little to no connection. That is not followership that is Feudalism.

My leadership nudge to you this week is this:

Take some time this week to do a little critical self-assessment. Ask yourself this; am I following principles or am I following personalities. Let me know how it goes.

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge – www.davidmarquet.com


0 thoughts on “What Is Followership?”

  1. Dan Kowalski

    Thank you for “giving some pub” to the concept of “Followership,” an all too often forgotten element of effective teamwork. The specific example that I’m thinking of here is when a meeting concludes and a decision has been made — yet everyone winds up taking actions that lead in a different direction than what was agreed to. Yes, some may want to think of that as a “Commitment” issue rather than “Followership.” However, to me, it is just one more example of a team not spending sufficient upfront time to develop and commit to Principles by which the team will operate. We educate people on “how to be a Team Leader;” but spend precious little time informing people as to what it means to be a “Team Member.”

    Above, you spoke of people blindly following the charismatic or authoritative boss, while I’m speaking to the issue of people “not acting in accordance with a made agreement.” Either way, both groups are not following a set of Principles by which they should act.

    Another excellent Nudge! (Your insights are most appreciated.)

  2. Barbara Keary

    Great point. Thank you! I have a question though. I think many of us do both of these things (sometimes follow the principles and sometimes follow the leader). Many of us (myself included) decide to just go ahead and follow the leader above us when the decision is not critical enough to fight over. Hopefully, when a decision is CRITICAL (ie: involves protecting our people or resources) and our leaders want us to go in a direction away from organization principles, we hang tough and follow the principles instead (and take our resulting lumps). My question to you is: are you advocating an unyielding devotion to the principles of an organization (vs what your boss wants you to do) even on what appear to be low-import decisions?

    1. davidmarquet

      Well, your message implies that your “boss” is making many decisions that are not aligned toward the organization’s principles (low and high importance) and that you feel somewhat frequently at odds. I would be interested to hear more but in cases like this in the past, what we find is that the stated principles are not the actual principles. You are trying to follow the stated principles and your boss is acting on the actual (though not stated) principles that will get him or her promoted…another word for this is “playing the game.”

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