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Follower Self-Examination

When courageous followers believe that neither the organization’s values nor its purpose are being served well by the leader, and they are considering withdrawing support, they should also examine themselves before acting.

In many organizational cultures, colleagues sympathize with us if we gripe to them about the leader. Friends and family do, too. We can mistake this as strong support for our views. To ensure our actions will benefit the organization and those it serves, we must seek good counsel just as we encourage our leaders to do. To help us discern right-motivated action:

We can ask for guidance from our peers, for feedback on how they perceive our reactions to the leader.

We should choose these peers for their diversity and honesty, not just for their history of supporting us.

We should frame our concerns in a nonincendiary way, so the healthy act of examination isn’t held against us if we decide we are not justified in withdrawing support.

We should not ask for our peers’ views in order to manipulate them into our position or reduce our own responsibility for our decision.

We want as much objectivity as we can get, not to replace our inevitable subjectivity but to test it.

We must be as open to challenge as we wish our leader to be; we must try to behave in the way that we are concerned he does not.

If peers advise against withdrawing support because they feel we are off the mark, involved in our own issues with authority, power grabbing, or failing to see the larger picture, their advice must be taken seriously. If they caution not to withdraw support because of the potential personal consequences, courageous followers may elect to ignore this advice and put values and purpose first.