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Assume Responsibility

Testing Your Ideas

Sometimes an organization isn’t ready to address a deficiency or try a better way of doing things. Other needs seem more pressing. This can be frustrating to a follower who feels strongly about an issue. Throwing up our hands and […]

Improving Processes

Processes are the chains of activity through which an organization fulfills its needs and the needs of the individuals and groups with which it interacts. Core processes are what permit the organization to achieve its purpose, and other processes support […]

Breaking the Mindset

Sometimes, it is not just rules that need to be broken but the organization’s whole mindset. The pursuit of the common purpose may be hampered by the group’s assumptions about the world. These assumptions are lenses through which the group […]

Breaking the Rules

Effective followers assume responsibility for learning the rules of the system in which they operate. Rules are created as guidelines for using the group’s resources, as methods for orderly decision making, as assurances of fairness, as clarification and guarantees of […]

Influencing the Culture

Every group has a distinctive culture: a set of norms for behaving and a way of looking at the world. Successful leaders and followers must learn the norms and respect the power of an existing culture. The stories of political […]


Willingness to initiate action without being instructed to do so is a distinguishing characteristic of the courageous follower. Courageous followers assume responsibility for events in their vicinity-whether it be a customer service complaint or an opportunity that, if seized, can […]


Successful followers care passionately about their work and the people it serves. They have a sense of ownership, of stewardship. If something happens, it is happening to what they are responsible for. When followers and leaders share a passion for […]

Taking Care of Ourselves

Management of our life and health are even more fundamental than management of our work if we are to be reliable team members and a source of support for our leaders. The more passionately we feel about a leader or […]


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 […]

Personal Growth

Self-assessment and feedback help us determine in what ways it would be desirable for us to change, to grow. Growth requires courage; it is a continuous process of exposing our vulnerable areas, areas where we have not developed mastery. Growth […]

Eliciting Feedback

While self-assessment is important, finding out how others see us is equally vital. Courageous followers overcome their reticence to hear “criticism”; they learn to encourage honest feedback. Though we have experiences or images of “bosses” giving us streams of criticism […]

Follower Styles

While these tendencies can be measured, you probably already have a sense of how you tend to operate, at least in relationship to the current leaders with whom you interact. As you read further, keep in mind this self-assessment and […]

Followership Style

There are different ways to represent our individual style of relating to leaders. Useful models for doing this can be found in the works by Robert Kelley and Gene Boccialetti, cited in the bibliography. In my workshops I use a […]


Assuming responsibility for our personal development begins with self- examination. We cannot know in which direction we need to grow until we first know where we are. Courageous followers do not wait for performance reviews (strained events that these usually […]

The Courage to Assume Responsibility

The most frequent complaint I hear from leaders is that they would like their staff members to assume more responsibility for the organization and initiate ideas and action on their own. While there are often very good reasons the staff […]