Leadership is overrated and followership is underrated.
“Lead or follow. Or get out of the way” Thomas Paine
What do all great leaders have in common? They all have willing followers.
A leader is only as good as his or her followers [followership] and more preferably, willing followers [followership].
If having willing followers [followership] is such an important factor to any leader and their leadership, in any environment, then the leader must earn followers [followership].
If the leader must earn followers [followership], what then must the leader do and/or how must the leader behave to earn the followers [followership]?
A leader must be credible and have credibility!
The great and best-selling author John C. Maxwell put it best, “credibility is a leader’s currency. With it, he or she is solvent; without it, he or she is bankrupt.”
We learn that credibility is not only the currency of leadership but also the foundation of leadership upon which any leader stands and is measured. If that foundation is weak, consequently, leadership is impaired and automatically weakened.
The question then becomes: what are the inputs to credibility?
It is said that “credibility is like a stock price. It rises and falls over time according to what the market…” – in this case, the people – the led and hence the assumed followers [followership] – “…determines it to be”
If a leader makes outstanding decisions, that enhances his or her credibility, that is, stock price goes up and vice versa.
If a leader makes outstanding interactions with people, even if they are difficult but crucial conversations, his or her credibility [stock price] goes up correspondingly.
Inversely, if a leader has difficulty and sucks in his or her interactions with people, the led – followers [followership] – that will have a corresponding downward effect on his or her credibility, that is, stock price.
The major inputs to credibility are; a) the quality of your [leader’s] decisions and; b) the quality of interaction with the people – those led, the followers [followership].
Credibility in and/or of a leader is what drives, motivates and influences people to turn into willing followers [followership]. This, therefore, means and requires that leaders develop a credibility bank.
NB: it is the followers [followership] that determine, not only the quality of a leader [leadership] but also whether or not the leader can, indeed, lead.
If you have any desire whatsoever to pursue a career in and around leadership, you must be highly conscious of the credibility factor. You must be conscious of the power of credibility and how it is vital for both leadership and, emphasis: willing followership, because that’s both and not only the currency but also the foundation of leadership.
Leaders should be humble, because leadership is teamwork (collaborative leadership) between the leader and the led – followers. Leaders should – as we all should – have the humility to accept the fact that we have to listen to other people with respect without regard to; and without necessarily discriminating in how we accord respect based on positions. This is leadership in its core essence.
There are also times where we’ve to understand how and what to do, what other people ask us to do, even if we don’t necessarily agree with their perspective, if it is in the [best] interest of many – the great good. This is about followership, particularly willing followership.
Leaders should also understand and have the humility to accept that they are part and parcel of the followers [followership]. Because without and in the absence of this core understanding, particularly on the part of leadership (leaders), that leadership and followership are both inseparably intertwined; logically leadership is rendered non-existent. Without followers there are no leaders.