Team players are essential to the success of any business, and most businesses require more followers than leaders. Yet, many people neglect developing their followership skills. Focus on these areas to become a better follower and a quality team player, valued by coworkers and managers as an essential part of the team.
Embrace Your Role
Start by accepting your position as a follower. If everyone on the team is struggling to gain a leadership role, the team is going to suffer. Being a follower doesn't mean that you need to limit yourself to following orders blindly. Instead, spend time learning to understand your role as team player. Learn about your company's mission and your departmental goals and how your personal role is important to the big picture.
Let your creativity flow. You may not be able to make all the decisions, but you can come up with great ideas and share them with the others on your team. Remember to think for yourself. If you know how to do something better, take a risk, and turn your ideas into actions. Don't forget to communicate the how and why of your plans to team members and managers to get feedback and ensure you're in line with the company's goals.
Get Things Done
One of the most important followership skills is getting things done. This requires competence in your area of responsibility and motivation to do the tasks necessary to meet goals in a timely manner. Continue learning through reading and networking. Take advantage of educational and professional development opportunities, as the best team players complete tasks skillfully. Build motivation by keeping your value in mind. When you make mistakes, take responsibility and follow through on correcting them with a growth-oriented attitude. Never feel ashamed or embarrassed.
Valuable team players are always aware of others on their team. Learn to pay attention to your co-worker’s strengths, weaknesses and emotions. Empathize with struggles, and offer help when you can. Choose your battles wisely when dealing with others. Instead of focusing on areas of conflict, try to bring out the best in your fellow team members.
Develop Confidence and Courage
Followers need confidence just as much as leaders do. Know your worth, and have the courage to stand up and express your opinions. A great team player knows when to dissent to improve the team as a whole.
Whether you prefer a follower role or want to move freely between leadership and follower roles in your organization, developing your followership abilities is a great way to grow in your career. Learn to be a better team player by building confidence and courage as you learn to empathize with fellow workers and build your competencies.
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