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The Leader-Follower loop

 

Disciplines > Leadership > Followership > The Leader-Follower loop

 Followers respond | Leaders notice | The dance continues | See also

 

Leaders who want to create  true followers do not just stand at the front of the army, yell 'charge' and then run forward. They may be surprised if they do that the army is still standing where they stood. And yet many would-be leaders do just this. They think they can be leaders just by telling people to follow them. And then they are surprised when people do not.

Followers respond

Followers are seldom blind. They are human, and pay attention to what their leaders say and do. And then they respond with at least some degree of intelligence.

Gossip

If the leader does something that concerns them, then they will voice these concerns to one another long before letting the leader know. The first sign for the leader that all is not well in the camp is often the sound of the tom-tom drums as followers signal their anxieties to one another.

Pack response

There may well be some level of pack response from followers. That is, there may not seem to be any particular leader, but they all seem to move at around the same time. If the leader does not hear the gossip, then they should most definitely notice changes in behavior.

Leaders adjust

If leaders do not do anything about the situation, then followers, who are volunteers, remember, will abandon in droves. Just as they will follow as a pack, they will also leave in the same concerted manner.

Noticing

At some point in the proceedings, the leader notices that followers are not as inclined to follow as they once were. They hear the gossip drums and the creaking of the overactive grapevine. They spot subtle (or not so subtle) changes in behavior.

Diagnosing

When the shift in follower behavior is noticed, the next step is to figure out why, and particularly to know whether and how to connect this to the leader's own words or actions, or at least to external events that have shifted the playing field.

Adjusting

When you know where it is going and why it happened, then you can do something about it. So leaders adjust what they are saying and doing to hopefully bring the ship back onto an even keel.

The dance continues

And so the band plays on.

It is a closed system, with followers responding to leaders, who themselves adjust in response to this. Leadership and followership is thus an ongoing dance, a dynamic interplay in which each closely monitors the other and responds accordingly.

See also

 

 

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