Understanding Followership to Improve Leadership
Marshall, Stacy N.
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Creating and developing leaders seems to be an obvious necessity in the workforce; and based on the amount of literature in bookstores and workshops conducted in my workplace alone, it is apparent that effective leadership is paramount for success. Being an effective follower does not seem to be quite as understood or discussed. After research and practical observation, it became clear that the key to developing good leaders was to ensure future leaders were good followers. In my experience, I have been told on multiple occasions that a great deal of respect from enlisted personnel goes out to officers who were prior enlisted, because they have an understanding of both sides of the leader-follower relationship. The purpose of this project was to develop a curriculum to be included as a course in the Leadership At All Levels (LAAL) program within Marine Corps Systems Command. In that training, specific guidance and education was provided on the meaning and importance of followership in helping leaders achieve success, and how effective followership can also breed future leaders. A part of that curriculum included a brief section on improving leadership communication to a group of followers, taking into account the amount of diversity among the workforce. Quite often, diversity is thought to be limited to race or ethnicity, but the training provided a brief insight to a variety of other areas that leaders need to take into account when communicating. Additionally, leaders need to consider the various methods of delivery available in the 21st century. In order to validate effectiveness, the curriculum was evaluated by a panel of six experts within the Command, to include the Command training lead, an outside training consultant, and four current leaders.