Inside Perspective

A Real Leader Inspires Others
By Anthony Mikatarian

In order to be a good leader, you must first aspire to master the art of good followership. As professionals, we spend most of our time in followership roles, therefore, how we perform as a follower sometimes determines how we will act as leaders. In other words, if someone in a followership role is constantly reprimanded for such things as violations of departmental rules and regulations, performance and demeanor, it’s pretty safe to assume when given a leadership role, he or she will pervert the very same rules he or she is entrusted to enforce. This type of leader is not good for any organization. Understanding followership is essential to being a good leader.

Let’s examine this further by looking at common followership paths many people choose.

A) Passive – The passive employee usually relies only on their leader’s decision-making and thinking and doesn’t buck the system for many reasons. They might feel that their direct boss or organization discredits their decision-making and way of thinking, so being passive shields them from the pushback. They may feel that their work habits are not realized or are not appreciated by their leaders and peers. They feel following the leader and their peers are their only answers. This is not the path to choose to become a great leader. However, passivity is also usually contributed to working for an overbearing, stubborn or incompetent leader who will accept no other way but their way. The passive one will only take action when told to by their leader, legally of course. These beliefs cause them to blindly follow their leader, be micromanaged by leadership, won’t go the extra mile, lack enthusiasm, and they will only give interaction with their leader when necessary. If you fall into this category, make adjustments so one day when you are a leader you will succeed.

B) Alienated – Alienated followers look at themselves as unconventional thinkers who have a good way of looking at things. They debate for the sake of debating in order to explore possible further thought. They feel that they have their agencies moral sense in order. However, when they become alienated, they feel that their leadership does not value their natural abilities and ideas; leadership is dishonest with them; leadership manipulated them for their own gain; delivered broken promises from leadership; and that leadership does not concede to their own deficiencies. Therefore, it becomes a tragic cycle or miscommunication. Knowing how to redirect a follower heading down the alienated path is essential for good leadership and also for the follower to be most productive.

C) Practical – Practical followers usually don’t deviate from staying in the middle and don’t want controversy. They might feel that they are accustomed to their work environment and know how to navigate its system. They feel like they help maintain perspective and consistency within their agency. They play by the agency’s goals and objectives. Practical followers are productive employees, however, they may be misperceived as self-gratifying or being politically motivated, or afraid to lay it on the line. Some may misperceive them as self-interest motivated, or perhaps, covering up their own deficiencies by literally going by the book. As a follower in an unstable, inconsistent and ever-changing work environment; a non-personable work environment; consistent negotiating to accomplish goals; an environment consumed by rumors and unofficial information, being a practical follower is a path many choose. A true leader will motivate subordinates from this practical followership to become dependable followers.

D) Dependable – Dependable followers are actively and positively involved in their agency. They may feel that they are independent and critical thinkers but still respect and understand the department’s leaders and the agencies goals. They may find themselves engrossed in and committed to their agency. They find themselves genuine, competent, non-abusive and conscientious with the goal of bringing value to their agency. They are free to act and make decisions. They contribute productively to the organization and often standout. Unfortunately, with insecure leaders, the dependable followers are sometimes targeted. When this happens, it’s usually by leaders who were never dependable followers.

Good, proficient followership will nature good leadership, as good leadership will help inspire good followership. Ask yourself what kind of follower you are? Where can you improve? Work out the kinks now so when you’re the one assuming the leadership role, you’ll know your followers well and understand how to assist them to reach their maximum potential. Always remember a real leader inspires others to become leaders. They are not envious, selfish or jealous. Real leaders are confident and are proud to lift others up along the way. Stay safe and God Bless…

Anthony Mikatarian has been a police officer for over 15 years. He is currently assigned to patrol in a northern NJ municipality. He earned a Bachelor’s degree from Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I., and another degree in mortuary science from the American Academy McAllister Institute in New York City.