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First Followers

Who was? Who is? Who will be your First Follower?

Maybe you just got promoted or moved to a new job or maybe you’ve joined a new company. If you adopt a behavior/a style of managing that is “hard fist of authority” you may get compliance…but that’s it”.

There is another approach you might consider. That approach is to implement “The First Follower” Theory. Yes, it is a genuine theory shared, in fact, at the very 1st TED Talk. One of its considerations is that your rank may get some things done, but not necessarily any things else. Said another way, “You may have the title of leader, but you need “followers”, to be able to fulfill the full scope of your job.”

Your “First Follower” can be critical. The First Follower is the one who “is onboard” first, suggesting to others that “YOU are OK to also follow”. They may, however, take some heat for being receptive and willing to follow you in your early days. (An aside observation for you to consider… Oh by the way, you need to make sure they aren’t just “sucking up” to the new boss.)

When you identify your First Follower, you will need to work closely, early, to educate them more deeply to the elements of “What you are doing and why”. And how they and the rest of your staff, working together can make “things” happen to achieve “GOOD” outcomes departmentally. Being the First Follower, they will be challenged for getting onboard and being supportive of your agenda. So, they need information-

ammunition (yes, I just made that phrase up) to answer, explain and persuade others to Follow. And, if you not only have a First Follower; but First Followers, they can be a source of education for You in return, to the problems and issues you may encounter and have to deal with.

There is an “opportunity space” you can pursue. You can establish yourself as a Listener, not just a direction giver. During this time you can also build trust-based relationships departmentally, where people see a willingness to consider their feedback and their ideas because you treat them with respect in your praise for a job well done as well as when you address underperformance issues. When, as a Leader, you have Followers, those Followers are more likely to take Ownership of their personal behaviors. Leaders give their employees more of a reason to Stay than reasons to Go.

Try it.

"Leadership is not just what happens when you're there, it's what happens when you're not there.” - Ken Blanchard (Author)


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