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News > Followership: Important to becoming effective leaders
Followership: Important to becoming effective leaders

Posted 2/5/2009   Updated 2/5/2009 Email story   Print story


by Senior Master Sgt. Rick Vogel
21st Dental Squadron

2/5/2009 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Followership is the willingness to cooperate in working towards the accomplishment of the mission, demonstrating a high degree of teamwork and building cohesion among the organization.

The subject is a key trait for leaders, and especially topical during this Year of Leadership.

Leadership and followership are intertwined: Leaders must have followers and followers must have leaders. How do you fit in as a follower?

Organizational understanding: Do you know the major command and wing mission statements? Do you know how doing your job to the best of your ability fits into accomplishing the mission?

Commitment: The best followers have the highest level of commitment. Air Force members are subject to duty 24-hours a day, 365-days a year. You may be tasked to report to duty at any hour, at any location and remain there as long as necessary to get the job done. You should understand the mission statement and be committed to getting the job done expediently and correctly.

Adaptability: The one thing that is consistent in the Air Force is change. Due to ever-evolving technologies, missions, training and levels of responsibility, meaning promotions, we must stay flexible. Resisting change can only lead to frustration. Accepting it with a positive attitude not only demonstrates trust in your leadership, but promotes teamwork.

Communication Skills: Followers must be able to communicate effectively. Whether this is offering suggestions or explaining to peers why we do things a certain way, communication is essential to teamwork and mission accomplishment.

Trustworthy: Effective followers must be trustworthy, just as effective leaders should be. Trust is a cornerstone in both followership and leadership. Leaders must be able to trust that their followers will get assigned tasks done correctly. Trust is fragile. It may take months or years to establish, but just one wrong-doing and it can be destroyed. Followers and leaders must be conscious of their actions.

All the above traits are crucial as followership is a very important bridge to becoming an effective leader. So, how do you fit in?

(Editor's Note: This article is one of several highlighting the Air Force Space Command Year of Leadership and its focus on followership.)

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