By Burl W. Randolph Jr.

We are all followers in some sense.

At work, at home, at church, in the community, we all follow someone.

Followership became a burgeoning subject in the early 90’s, is not quite as prevalent today, but that is not the subject of this post. Leadership is the subject of the post, and what followers expect from leaders. I used the word expect, because it has nothing to do with wants or desires, but foundational principles. Those foundational principles are what’s important to us followers. This list is short, because foundations are not the entire building, but what helps the building settle, without sinking or toppling over.

Stability. People want steadfastness, strength, and security, not drama and chaos. Followers flock to stability, not instability. Change is not instability, which is better defined by chaos.

Authority. People respond to command and control. Followers want to know that the leader has things well in hand, and knows how to properly use vs generally abuse the power given.

Freedom. Followers want a leader who provides autonomy and independence to do their job or assigned task, free from micromanagement. Followers also want the freedom to provide constructive feedback for the organization, without fear of reprisals.

Evenhandedness. Followers want a leader who is fair and impartial. My rule during my 31 years in the military was: You cannot treat everyone the same, but you can treat everyone fairly.

Thoughtfulness. Considerate, in-tune, engaged, and attentive. Followers want to know that the leader listens to constructive and destructive feedback, is reflective, but can also read-between-the-lines when necessary.

Intellect. I want someone that I can learn from, because they have the mental-power based on a combination of education and experience to lead me. I cannot follow someone that I can always out-think. Liars and connivers do not count, because they think differently.

These six attributes create the acronym SAFETI (There were no suitable Y-words for this post). At the end of the day, followers want a leader that makes them feel safe and secure, in their job, at home, at school, or in the community. Safety is what helps create opportunities, by leveling the playing field for everyone.

If you have not had the opportunity, have a Town Hall, Sensing Session, or Management By Walking Around session within your organization, to see if you have set the foundation as a leader, to attract and keep followers.

As a follower, what do you expect from leaders?

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