Leadership and followership
Leadership and followership

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Leadership and followership

4.1 Advice for leaders

If you are worried about making mistakes, there are several avenues of support available to you. Rebecca Fielding explains how employers often support their leaders and how leaders can better support themselves.

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There are lots of ways that organisations support leaders as and when they make mistakes. So to reiterate, mistakes are perfectly normal along the way. The ways that you'll be supported are through appraisal conversations and performance review conversations, might be an every day feedback and coaching conversations with your line manager or with peers and colleagues around you. You might very well find that an organisation will provide you with one of three wonderful support people, a buddy, who's somebody who's in the job and done the job like you. They might have a coach. So somebody who can really help you to think through what's happened and how you can learn from it. Or you might have a mentor. A mentor's typically somebody who's much more senior, much more experienced in an organisation, again who can share their experiences and wisdom of what's gone wrong. There might be training courses available to you or fantastic online resources, like the badged open courses, the BOCs [Badged Open Courses], that you can access for yourself. Personally, one of the things I've continued to recommend to all of the people that I've worked with over the years is to follow their own feet to the things that will help them reflect on how to learn. And that might be Ted talks. It might be YouTube videos on the subject or it might be books. It might be articles or items in these industry press, in the sector press for the industry or sector that you're in. Have a read. Follow your nose. Pull at the thread the things that interest you. Often those will give you energy, give you insight, and you'll learn really effectively. So there are things that the organisation will put in place to support you, and there are also things that you can put in place to support yourself.
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As you can see from the examples used in Activity 5, much of the impact of poor leadership is felt by the followers. Based on findings from her extensive case studies, Barbara Kellerman (2004) has some advice for leaders wishing to work more effectively with their teams:

  • Establish a culture of openness in which diversity and dissent are encouraged.
  • Install an independent person to review complaints and maintain standards.
  • Bring in strong and independent advisers who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth.
  • Avoid ‘group think’ as it discourages healthy dissent.
  • Get reliable and complete information, and then disseminate it.
  • Give a senior manager, who knows the organisation well, responsibility for ensuring the mission continues to matter.
  • Establish a system of checks and balances to avoid policies and procedures that support bad leadership.
  • Make sure you connect to all your constituents and not just a chosen, like-minded few.

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