What Is Followership?

Leadership Coaching with Mel Brown

In early 2014 while having a breakfast meeting with a colleague, he caught me quite off guard when he said to me, “you do a considerable amount of writing and training on various topics related to leadership. Have you ever considered writing or teaching something on ‘followership’?”

Quite frankly, to that point, not only had I not given much thought to the idea of writing an article or providing training on followership, the first thought that rushed through my mind when I heard the term was “What in the world is followership?” Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that all successful leaders have good followers, and that might be a topic worth exploring.

As a result of that conversation, “Followership” was the topic for Contemplation Corner in the February, 2014 issue of The MBA Dispatch.

Since that time, I have spent time reading what others have to say about the topic and looking at how followers impact the effectiveness of organizations. As a result of that exploration the topic I selected for this month’s Contemplation Corner and this month’s “Worth the Time” column (which appears in the lower right hand corner of this page) is “Followership.”

What is Followership?

In his article, “Followership: The Other side of Leadership,” John S. McCallum points out “Followership is a straightforward concept. It is the ability to take direction well, to get in line behind a program, to be part of a team and to deliver on what is expected of you….How well the followers follow is probably just as important to enterprise success as how well the leaders lead.”*

Characteristics of Good Followers

McCullough identifies eight characteristics that good followers possess. He refers to them as: