Throughout my career, I have lost track of the number of Leadership training programs I have participated in. Year after year, role after role, from entry level sales all the way to corporate strategy, I have received instruction, guidance, and training on how to be a leader. Somewhere along the way it occurred to me…if we’re all leading, how does the “doing” get done? Over the years, I have developed the utmost respect for what I perceive to be the majority of the working population…followers. Followers may or may not need to understand the “big picture”. They may be perfectly content to do what they do in support of a company whose broader commercial strategy they do not fully understand. They may be perfectly content managing projects rather than people, or performing tasks for which they are uniquely skilled. Regardless of whether one is a leader or a follower, however, understanding how what you do fits into the overall purpose of the organization for which you work is invaluable. A shared purpose allows you to embrace the concept of being the best that you can be at whatever you do while feeling a degree of commitment to the good of the greater whole. I work with senior leadership teams to help them define their business purpose and the organization’s strategy for fulfilling that purpose. No matter how clear these teams are on their strategy when they leave the room, if they do not clearly articulate the strategy and involve their own people in translating it into how they can personally contribute, the strategy has little chance of realizing its full potential. If those participating leaders go back into the organization, share the clarified purpose and strategy, and engage their teams in helping to define the role their function, department, etc. can play to contribute to the overall good of the whole, it frees up the “doers” in the organization to put their creative juices to work in terms of how to get it done.The greatest traction for any strategy is to have the strategic objectives translated into operational objectives, then further articulated as functional and personal objectives, all of which are aligned with the strategy. Traction occurs when people throughout the organization apply their entrepreneurial creativity by saying, “I understand what the desired outcome is and I have some great ideas on how I can impact the realization of that outcome from within my sphere of influence.” It is that unleashed creativity applied towards the desired end state for the organization as a whole that I describe as “Entrepreneurial Followership.”
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