Why Followership Coaching?

My fellow authors and remarkable Followership trainers, Marc and Samantha Hurwitz of Toronto, Canada, recently included the following in their www.flipskills.com newsletter:

A few weeks back, Marc and I were in Orlando, Florida at a conference. We did a session and had a book signing in the conference bookstore. We arrived at the bookstore nice and early, as did Marshall Goldsmith. Marshall has the #1 bestselling business book in America right now and is considered the top coach of CEO’s and executives in the world. Although we hadn’t met face to face before, Marshall had been reading our ideasletter for a few years and generously supplied an enthusiastic endorsement for our book. We were excited to connect with him, hang out, and have an opportunity to let him know how much his work has inspired us.

Marshall and I popped off to get a coffee together before the signing and had a lovely chat. As I do executive leadership and followership coaching, I was dying to ask him, “Of all the CEO’s you are coaching right now, how many are you coaching for followership rather than leadership?” Marshall looked away for a quick second, then smiled and nodded, “Four!” or about half.

Interestingly, this has been my experience, too. About half the people who come to me for leadership coaching actually need followership coaching, and sometimes, quite desperately!

Why Followership Coaching?

  1. Like leadership, people can be good, indifferent, or simply awful at followership.
  2. We don’t talk about followership – it can be the ‘F’-word in organizational life. Because of this, feedback, training, and mentoring of it are almost always insufficient.
  3. Executives who only focus on leadership often derail – poor followership is the leading cause of careers going off the tracks
  4. Good followership is empowering. It greatly improves and expands a person’s influence in an organization – more broadly, more strategically – and not just with the leader.
  5. Bad followers devilishly suffer from the Pitchfork Effect, i.e., it doesn’t matter how good they are at everything else, poor followership is what gets noticed and taints whatever good skills they have! This is the opposite of the Halo Effect, when being good at one thing is taken as a sign of being good at everything.

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