In this session of The Engineering Career Coach Podcast, Chris Knutson, PE interviews Marc Hurwitz on the topic of followership, what it is, the 5 key skills of followership, and why it’s so important to be as a strong a follower as a leader to build and sustain a successful engineering career.
“It’s not your boss’ job to get along with you. It’s your job to get along with your boss.” – Unknown
In the Take Action Today segment of the show, Marc shares the benefits of mentoring and its impact on your career.
Marc is the author of Leadership is Half the Story: A Fresh Look at Followership, Leadership, and Collaboration. He is the co-founder and Chief Insight Officer of FliPskills. He holds a PhD in cognitive neuroscience, an MBA, and two other masters’ degrees in physics and math. As a serial entrepreneur and lecturer at Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology Centre in the Engineering school at the University of Waterloo, Marc helps engineers and other students turn their ideas into businesses.
Listen to this session and learn how to improve your followership skills as a leader. Here are some key points from Marc:
- A big percentage in personnel appraisal is associated to followership skills.
- The concept of wolf pack in leader/follower role:
When in project mode, you’ll need everybody’s expertise so each person on the team takes initiatives, constantly exchanging the roles of leadership and followership.
- Expectations go higher as you go up the career ladder. Increased percentage in performance appraisals will be based on your followership skills and your ability to build strong relationships with higher management.
- If you have aspirations of being a partner or having your own firm, you need to be a good follower.
- Position your team to make them succeed in their leadership efforts – Have a strong team and coach people on followership. This saves you time to make them more effective in what they do.
- “Grass is never greener on the other side, it is greener where you water it.”
- When there is a decision made that you disagree with, always think that the leaders may see things better than you or know the bigger picture.
- In communication, always think of who is your audience and what is your objective.
Five areas of followership skills
Note: All skills are complementary, like a couple’s dance, making the whole system work together.
- Decision advocate – how to take an idea and make it a great idea. Once a decision has been made, be the advocate for that decision; know where you are by gathering resources, stop questioning and go to doing.
- Peak performing – bringing your best to work every day, treat your job as your dream job. Know what your leaders are trying to achieve and have that as what you want to achieve. Think forward up to the 2nd level above you.
- Organizational agility – being able to understand how people work, fit in to different environments, and learning how to be effective in that environment. Develop your presentation, speak for your audience, your boss is not the end reader or audience, so think beyond your boss.
- Dashboard communicating – unleash follower initiative by giving clear concise communication. Totally understand who is going to read them and understand what that note is (IFA-Issue, Fact, and Action).
- Relationship building – Follow the platinum rule: “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”
- Know their strengths, challenges, and give them your full support, let them know it.
- Give appreciation to what they are doing.
- Build upward relationships. You have more accountability to build these relationships.
How to provide good and effective feedback:
- Look at what is being done and know what are the ways to improve it and then plan – (PIP process – positives, improvements, and plans)
How communicating as a follower differs from a leader:
- In leadership role – you give the followers the parameters for them to unleash their full potential
- In followership role – you provide the leaders the information they need to act
Different types of goals:
- Personal goal – not shared with anybody like learning a new language
- Individual goal – shared with one other person like your leader, e.g. you want to have a promotion
- Group goal – deeply shared goal that can only be achieved if everyone is able to achieve it (I cant achieve success unless you achieve success)
Books mentioned in this session include:
Resources and links mentioned in this session include:
Sponsor for this session:
Have you started working on your followership skills in your engineering career?
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share on followership in your career/life.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success