Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What followers need

The research that lead to the concept of Third Generation Leadership showed that there are 4 key things that followers need if they are to provide peak performance - in other words, to do the things that their leaders need them to do in obtaining desired results. These are:

  1. The follower needs to feel absolutely safe both physically and emotionally. This means that there can be no bullying, harassment, or discrimination just as much as it means that the highest standards of occupational health and safety standards should apply. When a person feels threatened in any way their attention is directed to avoiding, eliminating, or minimising the effect of the threat and so they are unable to give other activities the engagement required and performance suffers. Any form of threat will reduce long term overall performance even if, in the short term, it achieves results.
  2. The follower needs to feel respected by his or her leader. Where the follower does not feel respected, this lack of respect is reciprocated and the follower is not committed to giving his or her best to the task at hand - in the worst case scenarios the follower will actively work to denigrate or embarrass the leader. While most leaders are perfectly happy to give conditional respect - in other words, 'do what I want and I will respect you' - the evidence is that only unconditional respect can totally remove all feelings of threat.
  3. The follower needs to feel listened to by his or her leader. This is clearly related to the concept of unconditional respect. Virtually every consultant with whom I've spoken, as well as from my own experience, knows that people "down the food chain" generally know both what are the issues in any organisation and they can generally tell you pretty sensible ways of addressing these issues. When a leader acts as though he or she has all the answers they invariably limit the ability of people to perform at their best.
  4. The follower needs to feel believed in by his or her leader. Its the old concept of self fulfilling prophecy. People perform in accordance with the belief shown in them - and this belief shows itself in actions and attitudes rather than in words.
Third Generation Leadership isn't rocket science. Third Generation Leadership is learning how to engage followers with each other as well as with the things that need to be done.

More information available at http://www.dglong.com and at http://www.youtube.com/user/GreatLeadership3G

Please let me know what you think about this. Post your comments below.

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