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How to gauge your followers

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Never underestimate the importance of followers. Here’s a quick way to estimate your followers’ potential so that together, you can get the most done:
  • Isolates are completely unengaged. They don’t know or care who’s in charge or what happens. By default, their alienation will reinforce the status quo.

  • Bystanders watch but don’t act. They deliberately choose to stand to the side. Like the inaction of isolates, their neutrality tacitly supports the status quo.

  • Participants engage in some way. They choose to make a particular, small contribution, maybe as a first step. They care enough to act.

  • Activists feel strongly about their mission or their leaders and plunge in to help the cause. Whether they’re for or against the status quo, they work hard.

  • Diehards literally are ready to die for an idea or a leader. They identify completely with the mission and are ready to take large risks for it. The mission drives who they are and what they do.
Bottom line: Rate your isolates and bystanders a 1. They won’t help you at all. Score participants a 2, activists a 3 and diehards a 4. Then spend up to 90% of your time and effort on 3s and 4s. They will make or break you.

—Adapted from Followership, Barbara Kellerman, Harvard Business School Press.

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