What kind of ‘follower’ are you?

Most of us are ‘followers’, according to socioligists, and these fall into five categories. But only one is the most effective, argues North Dorset Lib Dems Parliamentary Spokesman Gary Jackson.

We all know leadership when we see it, but much less is said about ‘followership’ – especially about the people who can change our government’s direction.

Until the next general election these ‘followers’ are Conservative MPs. Back in 1988, Professor Robert Kelley wrote about the importance of followership to organisational success, and described five types of followers. First are the unthinking, docile followers who are the ‘sheep’. A second group are the ‘alienated’; independent thinkers who have been turned off. They are cynical, give only grudging support, but seldom openly oppose their leader. Third are the ‘yes people’ who completely depend on their leader for inspiration and are aggressively protective. There is a fourth type that sit in the middle; ‘survivors’ who blow with the wind and seek only to survive change. I don’t see too many sheep in parliament, but I’m worried by the numbers of the alienated, the yes people, and the survivors on the Government’s benches.

The most effective follower!

But there’s one more type of follower, the last and best type is described simply as “effective”. Active, independent, critical thinkers. They manage themselves. They are courageous, honest and credible. They are engaged, well- balanced and responsible adults who succeed without micro- management. Volunteers with a purpose tend to be in this camp. These are the people that get things done and improve their communities.

Organisations only thrive when they have effective followers, as well as leaders. We surely want our political representatives to be the effective type. So, my call to all of us is to follow with independent, critical judgement and a will to make things better. Make sure you’re following the right vision and the right leader. As Liberal Democrats, we’d be really pleased to see you join us.

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