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Followership

Followership is all the rage today. We are encouraged to study it for two reasons. First: leadership implies followership; you're not leading if no one is following. Second: leaders and followers now work closely together. Leadership is a relationship, so the argument goes.

Advocates of followership claim that employees must be followers, otherwise there would be no leaders. But a closer look at what it means to lead shows that employees are collaborators, partners, supporters or associates, not followers.

The current push to call employees followers is a massive drag on efforts to engage them. The followership bandwagon needs to be derailed if we are to realize the full potential that employees have to offer.

Followership is a child of the illegitimate union of leadership and management. To better engage employees, this union must be severed. When we see that employees report to managers, not leaders, we can call them associates or partners and stop using the disengaging follower label.