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We are also responsible for self-management. Our success at self-management creates both the credibility and resources to initiate changes that will improve the organization.

A key to self-management is personal organization. A follower who is not well organized will too often be unprepared, miss deadlines, submit faulty work, or otherwise fail to meet the leader’s expectations. If a leader is frustrated with a follower’s performance, it is difficult to remain open to the follower’s advice and consultation.

Senior followers often lead others. If senior followers lack strong organizational skills, this affects the performance of their teams. If a team struggles to meet even their minimum responsibilities, they will certainly not have the energy to engage in new, creative initiatives.

Self-management encompasses the nuts and bolts of effective leadership or followership. It is mundane. It is pedestrian. Yet self-management is a critical skill, and a courageous follower must be prepared to do the hard work involved in being personally well organized.

There are several areas in which we must strive for a high degree of self-organization:

The way information, requests, and responses flow in and out of our work environment must be clearly established and maintained.

The tools, materials, and information needed to perform a function must be easily accessible and well maintained.

Procedures must be in place to ensure the appropriate safeguarding of information and materiel.

The criteria and measurements by which work will be judged need to be clearly understood and monitored.

Complex activities should be analyzed and arranged to minimize redundancies and maximize utilization of resources.

Work needs to be scheduled to manage the competing demands on our own and others’ time, and the schedule respected.

Requests for service or action should be recorded and trackable to allow for follow-through and timely closure.

Work should be appropriately delegated and delagatees developed and trusted so we do not become a bottleneck in the organization’s processes.

If we are not naturally strong in these areas we must assume responsibility for improving our skills. The most common stumbling block is the feeling we do not have time to get ourselves better organized. Yet often, it is the lack of organization that is eating up our time. We must give self- organization attention now, not at some elusive point in the future. We must take time out to sharpen the ax or we’ll exhaust ourselves trying to fell trees with a blunt instrument.

Courageous followers will work long and hard to forward the common purpose when necessary, but also need to organize their work so the output is timely and the pace is sustainable.