A Google search for leadership in sport will provide about 142 million options; by contrast, a search for followership in sport will provide only 371,000. This statistic alone is telling when we consider how the concepts are perceived, used and integrated on and off the football field.
The link between effective leadership and performance is widely understood and accepted. The flip side of leadership is followership. It stands to reason that if leadership is important to performance, followership is important too. Followership is a straightforward concept. It is the ability to take direction well, to get in line behind a program, to be part of a team and to deliver on what is expected of you.
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Followership is a globally underrated quality. It is rarely viewed admirably and followers are often seen as being incapable of making independent decisions and consistently being led astray, perhaps like sheep. The irony is that great leaders on their journey to the helm have demonstrated an ability to follow and function effectively in a group.
How well the followers follow is probably just as important to the performance outcome as how well the leaders lead. Leadership relies on its followers to push it.
You have no doubt spent time this season choosing your captains and training their leadership skills. You know why you selected the captains, and inevitably you based your choices around their ability to lead and influence others. What then are the qualities of a follower, and how do you train and cultivate those?
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The Ivy Business Journal has attempted to isolate the qualities of a good follower in the business world and the world of sport would do well to draw a parallel with those:
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Consider how well your followers possess these skills. Perhaps rank them on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not at all and 10 very well. Once you have conducted this exercise, identify the skills and capabilities you need to cultivate and build these overtly into the practice program.
Sarah McQuade is an independent coach education consultant, owner and director of e.t.c coaching consultants and co-director with The Coach Learning Group. To learn more about accessing how-to coach skills workshops, click the Coaching Skills button at www.etcoachingconsultants.com.