Leadership and followership
Leadership and followership

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1.1 What type of follower are you?

So far in this course, you’ve spent some time considering what type of leader you are, or could be, but how many of us ever think about what type of follower we are?

Activity 1 What type of follower are you?

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

In Week 1, Activity 2, you thought about your reasons for following various leaders. Choose one of those leader–follower relationships and using the typologies listed in this section, consider what type of follower you are. Summarise your thoughts here:

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Your follower type might be determined by a range of factors, from a response to the characteristics of the leader, to the personal qualities and behaviours of the follower. Context can also play a significant role, for example if a department’s funding is suddenly cut, this is likely to have an impact on the engagement and commitment of staff. Do you see yourself as an effective follower? If not, why not? What would help you to become more engaged? Do you think your leader understands the benefits of having effective followers? If you are an effective follower, what inspires you to be engaged and energetic? How do you benefit from that relationship? If you want to become a more effective follower, set yourself a relevant goal, for example, to give constructive feedback to your leader within the next month. Use your leadership journal to list some ideas. The GROW Goal Setting tool in your Toolkit [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] might also be helpful.

Identifying your own follower type will make you more aware of how you and other individuals interact with leaders. This awareness will be useful when reflecting on your own role as a leader and the relationships you have with those following you.

How to be a better follower

In the typologies explored here, positive/pro-active followership is about having energy and assertiveness, providing support but being willing to question, and seeing yourself as a partner rather than a subordinate.

Professor Jean Hartley offers her thoughts on how to be a good follower here – including the value of understanding your leader’s personality and preferences.

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In the next section, you’ll explore some of the benefits of being a good follower.

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