Follow-ship vs. Leader-ship
Follow-ship? What’s that? Well, it’s the repetition of doing what other people recommend or instruct, rather than stepping up and taking a LEAD position that would set a course for the land of GREAT ... the best, my utmost ... or just being teachable; willing to continue the quest for improvement in every aspect of your life!
When I was about six years old, my birth mother (not long before she died at the early age of 33), sat me down, put her hands on my face, and told me I was going to be a leader someday. I never forgot that, and I’ve continued to carry her words with me all though my life.
She had come to that conclusion about me (the second-to-youngest of her four sons) one Sunday during a church service where my father was Pastor. The kids in my Sunday school class had been practicing for weeks, memorizing certain lines we were to recite together, in unison, for that service. When the time came, our teacher lined us children up in front of the entire church. On a certain cue, we were supposed to take a couple of steps forward and start reciting our lines. But, as children’s plays normally go, the cue came and we all froze. A few giggles from the audience only made our sudden attack of stage fright worse.
Without further prompting from the teacher, I was suddenly compelled to step out in front, all by myself, and start reciting the lines ... the others followed then. My young mother was convinced I was going to be a leader, and I like to think her “prophecy” came true; that she knows somehow, and would be proud of whatever I’ve accomplished.
Now, reading a story like that you might conclude: Leaders are born, not made. In some cases, that may be true. But, in my three careers, what I have witnessed is: Leadership is learned and developed. It’s a DECISION to step up in a lead position!
There are “SHIPS” and then there are “ships!” And I believe it’s just an excuse to give into the mindset that, “I’m not qualified to be a LEAD-ship, I was underprivileged ... born on the wrong side of the tracks ... all in my family are FOLLOW-ships.”
Being a “Follow-ship” is what many do automatically without even considering that what they’re doing is just plain ole lazy, apathetic (“slothful,” as my dad used to say). It’s just going along with the crowd. Why? Because it’s EASY!
Chronic Follow-ships would rather blame others when things don’t go the way they think they should. After all, they didn’t make the decision, and they don’t really care to THINK that much, or be THAT responsible for anything. So, they give as little input as possible to helping the Lead-ship. Many Follow-ship types prefer to listen to music, play games on their Not-So-Smart-phones, and just play dumb.
When asked to help or give even a little input, you might hear a Follow-ship say:
- Well, I don’t know where it is!
- So-and-so never told me not to do that!
- Nobody gave me any directions!
- That’s not part of my Job Description!
- I don’t like that type stuff ... it’s just not interesting to me.
- I like doing things I like to do. I do the rest if I have time and the mood hits me.
Note the, I’s, ME’s and MY’s.
Such self-centered replies are very discouraging to others who are trying to step up and be a LEAD-ship!
However, as a leader you must know, these Follow-ships will always be around. There are more of them than there are “Lead-ships” ... a leader must learn to recognize them and place them in certain positions that require little to no leadership.
Okay, what do “Follow-ships” have to do with Systemic Success? EVERYTHING!
I have developed and written extensively on business systems ... systems for hiring (in order to weed out Follow-ships at the beginning), systems for orientation, daily routine checklists ... systems that ensure that even the most ardent Follow-ships are doing their job the way the LEAD-ship instructs and sets the course.
With the right system in place, these Follow-ships can become more productive and valuable team members. Maybe, with the right prodding (and not too little prayer), they will one day see the error of their “Follow-ship” ways and set a new course, to come along side the Lead-ship, heading for the land of GREAT!
Did I mention? GREAT SYSTEMS WORK!
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.