Leadership is about getting others to follow. Conversely, followership is about accepting someone else’s lead. In the leader-follower interaction, followership can be compliant and absolute, with people obediently doing exactly as they are told. But followership can also be voluntary and considered, with people willingly going along while still thinking for themselves.
Managers need to delegate tasks to their direct reports, while typically wanting to stay in the lead. Direct reports can follow compliantly but will be more effective if they follow willingly and intelligently, seeking empowerment to take more of their own decisions and actions.
In Meyer’s Management Models #21, the Empowerment Cycle described six leadership actions (in the light blue arrows) that could be used to gradually increase the empowerment of direct reports. The Followership Cycle extends this model, adding six matching followership actions (in yellow font in the darker blue arrows) that direct reports can take themselves to earn increased empowerment. The underlying thinking is that empowerment is built up gradually and jointly, in interaction between leader and follower, with the leader facilitating and the follower actively showing how their increased power is used wisely.
The three main categories of followership actions that warrant more empowerment are: