On Monday, I did a post on the traits that leaders need to survive and thrive through this economy. As a follow-up, Rick Telberg, of CPA Trendlines, asked what the essential traits of “followers” were in this economy.
I think my 4-year old son summed it up the best. He started junior kindergarten last week. In his classroom, there is a set of rules that the children must follow. The number one rule is to “Respect those in authority.” When we asked my son if he remembered what the number one rule was, he replied “Inspect those in authority.”
You will notice that the traits that a follower needs, align closely with the traits that a leader needs. Followers need to “inspect” their leaders more than ever before. They need to have a clear understanding of the leader’s vision and where he is taking them. It will be extremely hard to work toward a common vision with a leader if you do not know what that vision is.
Followers also need to “inspect” the underlying values of a leader. Is this someone that they want to follow? Do your leader’s core beliefs, values, and ethics align with yours? If not, perhaps it is time to follow someone else. If they align closely, that is even more reason to put your nose to the grindstone to work toward the leader’s vision.
Just like leaders, followers must maintain a positive attitude. Followers must resist the temptation to get drawn in to the negative talk that may be going on around them. Turn the negative thoughts into positive actions toward the vision. No one ever achieved a goal by moaning and complaining about it.
When things get tough – followers need to get tougher. Stay persistent in working toward the vision and following your leader – even if he adjusts the vision. Whenever there is a strong call for persistence and extra effort to get things accomplished, there is usually “negative” attitude that creeps in from someone somewhere. As stated above, resist this urge.
Take Care of Your Organization’s Customers. There isn’t a single employee at any company who is not there to help serve the customers in some way. Make sure the customers are taken care of. Without them, no one in your organization has a job, not even your leader.