Friday, August 14, 2009

Ten Rules of Good Followership - Col Philip S. Meilinger

Much of followership research, interestingly, comes from within the military. This article begins with a very simple, relevant question: how does one become a good follower. Meilinger makes ten suggestions, many of which I'm certain Kellerman and others would take exception with.

1. Don't blame your boss for an unpopular decision or policy; your job is to support, not undermine. Whether you like the idea or not, do not undercut your boss.

2. Fight with your boss if necessary; but do it private, avoid embarrassing situations, and never reveal to others what was discussed.

3. Make the decision, then run it past the boss; use your initiative.

4. Accept responsibility whenever it is offered.

5. Tell the truth and don't quibble; your boss will be giving advice up the chain of command based on what you said.

6. Do your homework; give your boss all the information needed to make a decision; anticipate possible questions.

7. When making a recommendation, remember who will probably have to implement it. This means you must know your own limitations and weaknesses as well as your strengths.

8. Keep your boss informed of what's going on in the unit; people will be reluctant to tell him or her their problems and successes. You should do it for them, and assume someone else will tell the boss about yours.

9. If you see a problem, fix it. Don't worry about who would have gotten the blame or who now gets the praise. General George Marshall, Army chief of staff during WWII, once make the comment that there was not limit to the amount of good people could accomplish, as long as they didn't care who received the credit.

10. Put in more than an honest day's work, but don't ever forget the needs of your family. If they are unhappy, you will be too, and your job performance will suffer accordingly.

I know my military biases are showing, but I think these are excellent bits of advice. While there are caveats accompanying each of them, this is good no-nonsense followership talk.


Meilinger, Philip S. The Ten Rules of Good Folllowership, Concepts for Air Force Leadership AU-24, p99.