The Importance of Courageous Followership


In today’s world, it’s easy to focus on the importance of leadership. But what about courageous followership? Followership is an integral part of any successful team or organization, and in a world of too much leadership, understanding how to be an effective and courageous follower is an essential skill. In this blog post, we’ll discuss why courageous followership is so important, and how it can benefit teams and organizations.

What is Courageous Followership?

Dr D lecturing in front of a powerpoint slide that says what are you prepared to live for?

Courageous followership is an essential part of any successful team or organization. It involves taking a stand for the values and vision of the team, even when leadership is lacking or misguided. Courageous followership allows team members to have a voice, and it promotes trust between leaders and followers.

When practiced correctly, courageous followership can be an invaluable tool for teambuilding. By standing up for their values and the mission, team members show that they are committed to the team’s success and willing to work together to achieve it. It also encourages open communication and constructive feedback from all levels of the organization. In this way, courageous followership can create a culture of trust and collaboration among team members.

Through courageous followership, team members can share ideas, provide honest feedback, and push each other to succeed. They can also challenge their leaders to make sure they are leading in the right direction and making decisions that are beneficial for everyone. By doing so, they can help create an environment of accountability that will benefit the team and the entire organization as a whole.

By embracing courageous followership, teams can move forward and reach their potential. With this type of collective effort and commitment, teams can achieve great things, even in a world of too much leadership.

The Worth of the Courageous Follower

There are several different models of followership. One of the first was created by Ira Challeff. His model is different than some of the others as it not only provides typologies for the different followers, but is prescriptive and encourages followers to take action and be courageous in their followership. According to Ira Challeff, there are four types of followers: Individualists, Resources, Implementer, and Partner. The partner represents the ideal type of courageous follower.

Courageous followers care deeply about the purpose of the organization and see themselves as partners in making the vision of the organization a reality. They don’t attach themselves to the leader but to the purpose that joins them, their teammates, and the leader into a cohesive unit.

Courageous followers can help foster teambuilding and trust in an organization by showing their commitment to the mission and by understanding that the individual success of each team member is dependent on the collective success of the team. This type of follower is willing to take risks in pursuit of a greater goal and to confront difficult issues head-on, setting a positive example for their peers. They are also open to ideas from others and lead by example, inspiring their team members to do their best work.

In a world where leadership often takes center stage, it is important to remember the value of courageous followership. Without followers who are passionate about their work and committed to the greater mission of the organization, any team or organization will struggle to be successful.

How to use the Courageous Follower

Team building is an important element of courageous followership. As a follower, you should strive to build a strong team by fostering collaboration and inclusion among your colleagues. Leaders can utilize courageous followers to encourage open communication and discussion between team members, and to take the initiative to bridge any differences or disagreements. This will enable team members to build trust and understanding with one another, which can help strengthen your collective capacity as a team. In addition, you should actively work on personal growth by challenging your comfort zone and taking feedback from your team and superiors. Ultimately, through teambuilding and self-improvement, courageous followers can be instrumental in helping to drive the organization forward.

The elements of a courageous follower

There are five main dimensions to courageous followership: assuming responsibility, serving greater purpose, standing up and standing out for what is right and purpose driven, participation in transformation for good, and taking moral action for purpose. A courageous follower needs to be willing to speak to those higher up in the hierarchy without fear and while accepting the consequences of that choice. Furthermore, courageous followers need to be open to feedback and willing to challenge their comfort zone for personal growth. Additionally, self-management is key. This includes taking the initiative to improve processes, as well as sometimes breaking the mindset or even the rules if they do not serve the purpose and vision of the organization.

Examples of Courageous Followership in Action

In a world of over-emphasis on leadership, it can be easy to overlook the importance of courageous followership. But followership is an essential part of the workplace and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. To explore what it means to be a courageous follower, let’s look at some examples of how it can manifest in the real world.

One of the most powerful examples of courageous followership is when a team member speaks up to challenge the leader. In any organization, it can be intimidating for a follower to disagree with their boss or challenge the status quo. Yet courageous followers are willing to risk their reputation in order to make sure that the team moves in the right direction.

Another example of courageous followership is when a team member advocates for a different point of view from that of the team. It’s easy to follow along with the leader’s opinion, but sometimes the real challenge is not to stand up to leadership but rather to go against the tide of the other followers. Courageous followers take initiative to voice their opinion and stand up for what they believe in. This can be a crucial part of problem-solving and creating innovative solutions.

Yet another example of a courageous follower is the person who supports the leader despite the leader’s shortcomings or lack of skills. This is not a given for followers. And it takes a great deal of courage to stand up for and stand with a leader that has less skill or understanding of a topic than the followers.

Finally, courageous followers are willing to take calculated risks in order to help move the team forward. They understand that making mistakes is part of learning, and they’re not afraid to try something new or experiment with an idea that may not work out. This kind of courage can be incredibly valuable for pushing teams towards success.

The Worth of the Follower

Courageous followership is an invaluable asset in any organization. By recognizing and supporting courageous followership in your team, you can create a culture that encourages creativity, risk-taking, and growth. Encourage courageous followers by praising them when they speak up, advocate for a different point of view, or take calculated risks. And protect them when they break a rule or go against policy with purpose and moral reasoning.

Not only will this allow the team to grow creatively and problem-solve more effectively, it will also show people who have been quiet in the past that speaking up is encouraged. It’s time we acknowledge the power of those who don’t lead but choose instead to follow.

An essential task of leadership is accepting or promoting courageous followership rather than feeling threatened by it. An example can be found in Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. He encouraged his employees to speak their mind and challenge him, even when it meant he would be disagreed with or made to look wrong. In 2018 Amazon changed a policy that prevented its warehouse workers from taking bathroom breaks. Employees courageously spoke out against the policy, and Amazon changed it. This kind of courageous followership has the power to make a difference in any organization. Recognizing the value of following bravely gives others permission to share their thoughts and ideas, which creates a safe environment for innovation and creative thinking.

Beyond Leadership for Healthy Teams

Acknowledging the importance of followership is an essential part of creating healthy teams. Followership encourages collaboration and innovation, allowing everyone to share their ideas and work together to find the best solutions. Every team has a variety of different followers, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Some people may be more courageous than others and are willing to challenge the status quo and suggest alternate solutions, while others prefer to follow the leader and keep things running smoothly.

It is also important to recognize that not everyone can or will be courageous. That is why it is essential for leaders to create a supportive environment that encourages people to express their ideas, even if they differ from those of the leader. Leaders should never feel threatened by courageous followers who are emerging as leaders in the moment. Instead, leaders should view this as a positive sign that the team is progressing and growing. By valuing followership, leaders can foster an environment where everyone is encouraged to contribute their ideas and work together towards common goals.

Support Followership for Success

It’s time to recognize that followership is just as important as leadership. We need to build an environment where we can trust each other, give each other space, and support our followers. When we do, we create a team dynamic that encourages communication and collaboration. We foster a culture of trust and mutual respect that is essential for success. Through courageous followership, we create an environment where everyone can contribute and thrive. By embracing the role of follower and allowing others to lead, we can truly reach our goals with efficiency and success. As followers, we are integral parts of the process. Our responsibility is to keep up and follow through. In a world too focused on leadership, it’s time for us to be more mindful about who really drives success: the people who follow.


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