Feb 16 2017
River deep, mountain high: the journey towards Effective Followship

Guest blog by Stacey Killon 

Have you ever thought about the way you come across towards your team? We’ve all have that bad day, bad week even and for me sometimes it simply takes that one email and I am reaching for the carbs. However, whatever you might be feeling, don’t forget the effect your behaviour has on the environment you are in and how it will influence your nearest and dearest, particularly your team.

We face daily challenges with our teams, along with our own personal challenges and own self-criticism (I am and will always be my own worst enemy) whilst battling everything else that life throws. I’ve recently been learning about Effective Followship and how being effective keeps a happy ship. Within this there are the following types of follower behaviours:

Sheep: Passive, non-questioning, robotic, simple task orientated individuals who contribute little other than task completion.

Yes: Active but non-questioning, always say what they think the boss wants to hear. No reality, no truth and ultimately dangerous.

Alien: Passive but questioning, will always complain about others, use blame language but never say anything to the boss.

Effective: Active and questioning, with the intent to understand. Contribute and highly loyal, thinking well beyond the task in hand.

Survivor: (Neutral) this is where we all find ourselves. Where this box sits the model will depend on the culture developed by the management community.

These are effective followship behaviours. With these in mind, can you already think about some team members who demonstrate any of the above? Or can you recognise which ones you hover towards? I am guilty of the Sheep and Yes behaviours and from learning about effective followship I soon realised that when I fall into these areas how must it influence my team?

As a Sheep I simply want to complete the task in hand and without asking questions as I assume I should already know the answer and we all know what this means… I give myself a really hard time in muddling through and more often than not this can result in poor time management. However, without the support or by asking those important questions I am unlikely to enhance the outcome and prove to my leaders that I am capable of more.

And in the Yes behaviour I want to do everything that is asked of me and who wouldn’t? But this can become dangerous as failure to ask for help or not saying no translates the message I can cope and that I have capacity when in reality I am unable to dedicate 100% of my efforts which equates in a lack of effectiveness.

We all suffer from white noise syndrome and that interference will prevent anyone from being as strong or effective as we would like to be. If we let the white noise take over (and we have all been there), we are suddenly at risk of being what is known as lesser effectives.

So, if you stay as a Sheep you will only take action with instruction, follow the crowd and leave headaches for those who are paid to deal with them – no intuition…

By staying in the Yes zone you will find yourself unable to say no, avoid conflict situations and unwilling to take an unpopular position which will give you a hard time in the long run and remaining as an Alien you will become a mood hoover, become troublesome, cynical and negative, and resist change. Eek!

Scary stuff? We all have a duty to be as effective as possible and a duty to pass this methodology onto our teams. The trick is to remember that white noise is not going anywhere, instead change the channel and embrace the possibilities! Who knows where it will lead you? People do not follow leaders, they follow effective followers, so keep a beady eye over your working environment and remember who you are influencing.

Stacey Killon works for the NHS as an Education and Training Manager on behalf of the Education and Training department and Medical Education. Stacey has a background in healthcare and media and has a real passion towards motivating people to achieve more. 

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