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Developing Your Followers

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You are ready to implement change, start a new project, take on a new team performance objective, etc. Some degree of involvement, communications and feedback on the part of everyone in your team will be essential. But everyone is different in how they want to be involved, what they consider important from a communications perspective and their comfort level providing and receiving feedback.

Our natural tendency is to focus on those who are most eager, proactive, visible and vocal. While we need to draw upon these types they often represent the minority of those on our team.

Here are some simple tips on identifying 5 different types of followers. Once you know which types you are working with you can implement much more effective ways to engage, communicate and provide feedback with each.

DISENGAGED: passive, prefer status quo, isolated, often non-verbal

OBSERVERS: Listen, observe, process, defer to the majority opinion, have ideas and opinions but usually offer them only if asked, don't proactively seek involvement but won't avoid it if asked

LET ME HELP: Respond to requests to get involved, need to understand how involvement benefits them, once involved want to make an impact, gets more energized through involvement

GIVE IT TO ME: Proactively approach you to be involved, energy and enthusiasm, persistent in getting things done, can energy others, express their views and opinions openly

I'LL MAKE IT HAPPEN: Dedicated and loyal, determined to do what needs to be done, strong advocate (in words and actions) of completing the task, very vocal and visible and like it that way

Once you have identified which type of follower each team member is you can more accurately answer these questions:

1. How critical to project success are they?

2. Are they supportive or resistant to the project?

3. What can I do to at least get them into a "follower type" that can make them a positive force in our success?

4. If they are resistant to the project, as I look at the attributes of their type what do I have to do to either "convert them" to supporters of the project or take a "damage control" approach with them?

As much as we talk about the importance of leadership we also have to recognize the impact of followership.

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