The Concept of Followership (With Definition and Importance)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 2, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

In an organization structure, there's usually a leader, who gives strategic directives, and followers who provide support to help ensure the completion of tasks. The roles of leaders and followers can influence an organization's work structure, progress, and goal achievements. Learning what it means to be an efficient follower can help you hone relevant skills and prepare you for future leadership opportunities.

In this article, we explain the concept of followership, review its importance, outline traits of a good follower, and discuss critical leadership characteristics.

What is followership?

Followership is the willingness to work toward accomplishing defined goals under a leader's directives. Reliable followers are active partners in creating a leadership process, as leaders cannot function without followers. Being a good follower involves completing tasks in the expected time, demonstrating a high degree of interactive teamwork, and working as an influential individual contributor.

There's generally a direct relationship between leaders and followers as their efforts complement each other. An organization can achieve its goals faster with an enhanced synergetic interchange between its leaders and followers.

Importance of followership

A good follower is just as important as a good leader because they influence the sustainability of a healthy and adaptable team environment. The best followers possess a sense of accountability and urgency, influence leaders, and provide suitable recommendations relevant to accomplishing complex goals. Common benefits of having efficient followers in an organization include:

  • Better results: Good followers can contribute to a positive work culture of respect and support, allowing others to learn and grow. These conducive working conditions can improve a team's morale and encourage them to work harder to achieve better project results.

  • Improved productivity: Following a leader's directives involves working on delegated tasks and sharing responsibilities with team members. Being responsible for specific tasks can help increase productivity, as followers may want to promote their efficiency by producing the best result possible.

  • Increased teamwork: Being a follower involves working closely with other team members and leaders, which can help build an understanding of how to relate with different people. This can significantly improve teamwork, increase a project's quality, and drive growth in the workplace.

Traits of a good follower

Working as a follower in an organization and achieving stipulated goals can be easier with the following traits:

Communication

Communication skills include active listening and verbal and written skills. Working in a team involves interaction with team members on different matters, such as a project's status and its critical aspects. An efficient follower uses this skill to promote and establish a clear understanding of their duties. With active listening, you may relate more to a leader's ideas and strategies critical to completing a project successfully. You can build this skill by paying attention at meetings, asking questions for clarifications, and seeking others' opinions.

Loyalty

Loyalty in the workplace means demonstrating a commitment to an organization's goals. A loyal follower works toward increasing the team's productivity and maintaining a healthy work culture. Knowing your obligations are to an organization and not a particular leader can help in setting clear priorities. Forging a solid allegiance to the company's goal can help you maintain focus and work strategically.

Enthusiasm

A good follower generally works with enthusiasm and a positive attitude. They generally try to make everyone around them feel comfortable. An enthusiastic and cheerful follower can form deeper bonds with other team members, earning their trust. Generally, employees are likely to work better in an environment where there's trust. This is likely because sharing work-related concerns and finding suitable solutions may be more accessible.

Initiative

When there are pending tasks, a supportive follower doesn't wait to get instructions before doing them. They spend time learning about the organization and mastering their duties, which helps in executing projects without direct supervision. You can take the initiative at work by volunteering for tasks, such as working with other departments and handling administrative duties. This can help make you a valuable asset to an organization.

Read more: How to Take Initiative in the Workplace (With Useful Skills)

Work ethics

Regardless of who monitors the code of conduct at work, reliable followers typically exhibit positive work ethics. They are punctual, diligent, and committed to their responsibilities. This trait helps demonstrate your competence and values to an employer or leader. Companies generally consider these employees first for promotions, as they often trust their capabilities and dedication.

Read more: What Are Ethics at Work? With Definition and Examples

Flexibility

Flexibility is the ability to adapt to adjustments in the workplace. The success of a project may depend on employees' flexibility and ability to adopt multiple roles. An efficient follower is willing to assist with completing tasks and can adjust their work strategy to suit a company's current status. It might be easier for leaders to manage larger projects with flexible followers supporting them. Being flexible allows you to work on various tasks and prepares you for future leadership positions.

Time management

As you may be working on several projects with time constraints, proper time management can help you complete tasks without errors. A good follower can develop and implement a schedule and strategy for task completion. This helps avoid omissions, meet expectations, and complete the tasks on time.

Attention to details

This trait helps followers improve their work quality. It involves cross-checking every project detail and ensuring they meet a specific quality standard. Leaders typically prefer working with detail-oriented followers, as they can focus on other tasks, trusting the team members to complete assigned assignments accurately.

Teamwork

It generally takes the joint efforts of a team to complete a project. Being a good follower involves possessing the ability to work productively with other team members. As your duties can influence the overall team performance, developing a group-oriented mindset can help promote synergy within the team. Assisting team members and sharing resources can help create a healthy work culture and make completing tasks more manageable.

Humility

Humility at the workplace involves supporting other people's ideas and respecting their authority. A good follower understands every task's importance and respects others' roles, regardless of their simplicity. This can help promote shared professional growth in the workplace. When a leader assigns a job, irrespective of its importance, ensuring to execute it properly can help you build a status as an exceptional follower.

Competency

Understanding duties and performing tasks productively is a quality of a supportive follower. A competent follower encourages progress in an organization by completing tasks independently. They interpret guidance and directions from a leader and devise effective ways to complete assignments.

Related: What Is a Level of Competency? (With Improvement Strategies)

Key leadership characteristics

A good leader guides other employees in the organization towards achieving strategic goals. They typically possess skills that allow them to motivate and inspire others within the team to complete tasks and facilitate the attainment of the set goals. The following are skills a leader utilizes to increase productivity and adequately guide the employees following their directives:

Problem-solving

With practical problem-solving skills, leaders can reduce the need for additional work and facilitate constant improvement for a business. They do this by identifying a problem, evaluating its variables, and using their results to develop a lasting solution. Efficient leaders generally consult with their followers to seek their opinions on suitable strategies to adopt. Problem-solving skills can help leaders demonstrate to followers different ways to devise creative solutions and reduce problem occurrence.

Delegation

A leader delegates tasks to competent team members to improve productivity. With this skill, they can recognize team members' strengths and capabilities and assign tasks to them based on these criteria. Delegating tasks helps in empowering team members and assisting them with professional development. This helps improve organization growth and team performance and saves time. As every team members work on tasks specific to them, it fosters a sense of responsibility.

Read more: How to Delegate Tasks at Work (With Tips and Definition)

Logical reasoning

Leaders can derive relevant conclusions on an issue by carefully assessing its facts. With logical reasoning, making connections between ideas, verifying theories, and interpreting information may be more manageable. This makes setting and accomplishing goals relatively more straightforward.

Discipline

Leaders generally exhibit exemplary behaviours and act as role models for their team members. They are punctual, dedicated, committed, and uphold ethical work culture to motivate their followers to do the same. Setting goals, practising effective time management, and engaging in leisure activities, such as reading, can help improve this trait.

Related: What Is Progressive Discipline? (With Benefits and Examples)

Creativity and open-mindedness

Good leaders are typically welcoming to new ideas and suggestions from their team members. They understand there are different strategies for completing tasks and respect others' perspectives. Efficient leadership typically involves devising new techniques and finding more productive ways to complete tasks. Creativity can make listening, observing, and drafting effective strategies more manageable.

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