Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Follow the Leader....

The new season of The Celebrity Apprentice has just started, and I admit it, I am an addict. Each season of the show introduces us to the most extreme versions of the personality types that we encounter in the real world. And when it comes to egos and idiosyncrasies, the Celebrity version turns the volume up even louder than what must of us encounter on a day-to-day basis.

While the show focuses on the leadership skills and abilities of the person who takes on the Project Manager role each week, what strikes me is the poor “followership” skills and abilities of so many members of these teams. Nothing derails a team like someone who cannot or will not be lead.

Many organizations spend a lot of time and money developing leadership skills, but where is the focus on being a good follower? These days, work is often performed in a highly projectized environment, where team members take turns leading and following. Most high-functioning project teams are made up of members who take turns leading and following. A leader on one task is often a follower on several others.

The ability to brainstorm and generate ideas as part of a team, constructively raise concerns and disagreements, take initiative appropriately, and effectively support the person with the ultimate responsibility for a task are skills that we can all spend some time cultivating. Any good leader knows that good followers are a critical success factor. And any good follower knows that their turn is coming up.

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