Leadership Begins with Followership

Posted on February 4th, 2013 by Fernando Zamora

McLane Advanced Technologies provides a course in leadership known as The Leadership Challenge. I am enrolled in that course starting today. That has inspired me to write this small post on followership.

Usually most people will make the distinction between followership and leadership, even though they are very closely related. My wife always likes to tell my son’s to be leaders not followers. A good leader knows who and what to follow based on certain principles.

During my run as lead developer and even prior to that, during my enlistment in the military, I learned that one of the strengths on a team is to have good followers. It is obvious that you must have good leaders, so I that’s why I didn’t mention that first.

Many times in my work I don’t always agree with the approach decided on by my leaders. However, I always do my best to fully support that decision, whatever it may be. And guess what, 99% of the time, their decision works just as well as the one I would have chosen.

Why is it important for a lead developer to be concerned with supporting leaders? You ask. After all, isn’t our responsibility as techies to tell the truth and when it comes to technical decisions there is only one way; the right way. Well, managers tend to look at things quite differently. Their job is to get the job done in the way it makes most sense to the customer. They like to get things done in a way that the approach manages to look at all the pros and cons and they tend to chose the approach where the pros outweigh the cons for the needs of their particular scenario.

I’ve seen many times where tech types like to go totally against and come even close to sabotaging their leaders decisions. Our job is not to do everything to prove that we were right and they were wrong. Our job is to fully support but not decide. That’s a managers job. I think the only exception to that rule is when it comes to the possibility where that decision may have safety consequences. The other 90% of the time, we should fully support our managers decisions.

That leads me to this great article on The Ten Rules of Followership.


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