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The following article
was written by Coleman Patterson and
appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.
Are you a follower?
March 30, 2008, 2D
Have you even taken
a good hard look at the people you work with? Are
some of them able to identify problems and take the necessary steps to solve those
problems with little help or direction? Are
some of them eager to help and do whatever they are told to do, but cannot seem to think
for themselves? Do some of them seem to know
and have solutions to all of the problems within the organization, but do nothing to help
solve them? Are there others who seem
incapable of independent thought and action and need prodding and guidance for everything
they do? And are there others who seem to do
and speak up just enough to stay out of the spotlights of attention and responsibility?
Robert Kelley, in
his scheme of follower behaviors, identified two independent dimensions on which followers
differ. One dimension has to do with follower
activity and behavior and the other deals with thought and problem identification. Kelleys behavior dimension ranges from
active to passive. The thought dimension
ranges from independent and critical to dependent and uncritical. Kelley combined those two dimensions to identify
five types of followers.
Followers who are
passive in their actions and uncritical in their thinking are called Sheep. Sheep lack the abilities to independently identify
problems or the courses of action needed to solve those problems, and they need prodding
and pushing to get them to perform. Yes
People are dependent in their thinking, but are active and willing to do whatever
they are asked to do. People who see all of
the problems within an organization and have solutions for them, but are unwilling to act
until prodded are known as Alienated Followers.
Alienated Followers are the ones who would rather sit around and complain
about the ways things work than actually doing anything about the problems themselves. Survivors are those who exist where
the two dimensions intersect; they are active and independent enough in their thinking to
stay out of trouble, but also just passive and dependent enough to not be noticed or given
extra responsibilities. Kelley labeled people
who are active and independent in their thinking as Effective Followers. Effective Followers are those who can see and
figure out solutions to problems and have the energy and activity to solve them. They are self-active and independent and work for
the common good and purpose of their organizations.
organizations are made up of active and independent-thinking followers. Training and development techniques and a sincere
effort on the part of management to elicit employee involvement might be used to turn Yes
People into Effective Followers. Strong
leadership can also create cultures of openness, shared decision-making, and employee
involvement to transform Alienated Followers into Effective Followers. Under effective leadership, Survivors might also
be encouraged to step up and take ownership of problems and become more active. Organizational policies, reward schemes, and
high-involvement cultures must be created to promote active behavior and independent and
critical thinking in organizational members.
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