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Management reports, briefs issued by Samsung Economic Research Institute

The Power of Followership: Eight Tips to Make Star Followers

The Power of Followership: Eight Tips to Make Star Followers

Nov. 5, 2012

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Having a good leader is naturally important to the success of any organization but its followers,1 those who perform the myriad of tasks, are just as vital. In fact, research by Professor Robert Kelley at Carnegie Mellon University reveals that 80% of the success of an organization is traced to followers and only 20% to the leader.2 He said the leader is often given too much credit while followers are overlooked.

Organizational structures are increasingly becoming horizontal. Information is being shared across all levels and employees are being given expanded roles, including some decision-making. However, various types of employees may lack the demeanor for an active role.

This is where the most successful leaders come to fore. They are multipliers3 who look beyond their own intelligence and focus on extracting and extending the genius of others. They seek to first understand the qualities that instill good followership. Followership largely reflects the disposition, behavior patterns and thought process originating from the leader.4 And in a virtuous circle, successful followership produces successful leadership.

What an organization needs most are "star followers," those who display active involvement, critical thinking and a positive disposition to achieve the organization's vision. Unfortunately, star followers take up just 5-10% of an organization, which make it urgent to cultivate them. This paper examines the nature of star followers and how an organization can fill its ranks with more of them.

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