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Check your ego at the door to lead in assists

That’s how Robert E. Kelley describes ‘followership’ in How to be a Star at Work. It is one of his nine strategies.

Two primary factors distinguish a star follower from an average one:
• independent critical thinking and
• active participation in the destiny of the organization.

Stars bring enthusiasm, intelligence and self-reliance into implementing organizational goals. They cooperative with a leader even when there are personality or workplace differences. Kelley estimates 90 percent of the company’s success is coming from people who implement the directives.

Five styles of followership
Two are negative—sheep followers and yes followers.
Alienated followers are critical thinkers who don’t like the leaders or their work situation.
Pragmatist followers use their independence for political gain.

Star followers can disagree constructively. They are self-starters and creative problem solvers, using their talents to help the organization even “when confronted with bureaucratic inanities or nonproducing colleagues … They add as much value to the organization as anyone in upper management. Star followers are often purposefully committed to something—a cause, a product, an organization, an idea, a person—in addition to their own lives and careers.”

If star followers “sense that a leader has so much ego that it conflicts with their mutual goal attainment, or if the leader starts to swerve away from the goal, they will strive to get the leader back on track. If they cannot, then they will end the working relationship with that leader, even if it means undermining the leader or leaving the organization.”

I think you’ve caught the civility angle in this post. Typically large egos don’t provide benefits to organizations, particularly if those with large egos are dismissive about what others can contribute. I’m not sure where large egos do work well. Mostly I see the situation as sad because puffed-up egos often are a tactic to cover inadequacies. The solution is easy -- let the workers help define the way.


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