Monday, May 18th, 2020

The Importance of Following

“Be a better follower if you want a better leader.” – Dan Rockwell

Per John S. McCallum, Professor of Finance at the I. H. Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba, 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. It gets a bit of a bad rap!

I definitely agree with McCallum. We hear so, so much about developing leadership skills and yes, that is important. If you are working in a team environment, as is true of accounting firms, it is very important to develop followership skills.

Nothing disappoints me more than when I hear a familiar story from a firm. The partners elect a managing partner and ask him/her to lead the firm into the future. But, many of the other partners are truly not on board with having a boss (leader). They think (and often say), “Yes, that is a good idea for the firm…. but I’m not going to do that with ‘my’ clients.”

Not everyone is destined to be a leader. Many accountants don’t ever want to be a leader. They have many of the traits of followers – the are good workers, diligent, and committed. They are competent, have a strong work ethic, have courage to be honest with leaders and demonstrate discetion.

I be that describes many people working at your firm. Be proud that you are a great follower. It is a valuable skill that even leaders must learn. Read my blog about the importance of followership that is being taught at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

As McCallum says, “Followership will always be in the shadow of leadership.  But there are no leaders without followers and on-going success with weak followers will usually prove elusive.”

  • "It is true that an organization is only as good as its leaders. It is also only as good as its followers. "
  • John S. McCallum

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