At the heart of excellent followership is relationship—with one’s leader and with one’s peers. And at the heart of relationship is communication.
If we’re going to follow well, if we’re going to contribute well, we have participate in—and contribute toward—a positive communication environment.
The challenge comes in that each member of a group will tend to have personal preferences that define what it means for them to engage in a positive, satisfying dialogue.
Some people just want to get to business; skip the personal stuff, get the work done, and get out of the conference room. Others want to be sure to frequently check for understanding and for group harmony. Some want to draw things to a tight conclusion, while others want the opportunity to consider issues further and to circle back around for more conversation later.
Weaving all of these preferences together within a single group is a challenge. But it doesn’t solely rest on the leader’s shoulders to make this happen. Each group member has responsibility for understanding her/his own preferences, for communicating those preferences, and for working to create an environment that will enable each colleague to offer their best contribution.
Having provided team building training around the world for the last 11 years, I can attest to the importance and value in groups talking about talking. Communication is such an intrinsic part of group functioning that it’s worth investing time in figuring out how to do it well.
I’ve developed a new free resource to help groups to uncover individual preferences regarding satisfying communication, and to draw those into the group’s functioning.
Achieving Satisfying Group Communication (free printable PDF activity guide) is a 4-step, intentional conversation where each group member considers what leads to feeling heard and a positive experience of the dialogue, then having the opportunity to share and explore those preferences and to determine as a group what dynamics to implement as part of their interaction moving forward.
The activity can be done during a staff retreat or (depending on group size) a 90-minute team building session. It can also be spread across different sessions, with brief individual pre-work contributing to two or more follow-up conversations as the group assesses individual preferences and determines how to shape their communal dynamic for the future.
Expectations are a huge factor of your followership experience; many of our communication preferences do indeed emerge as missed expectations. We will serve our group well by personally taking stock of these preferences/expectations, and communicating them appropriately.
The group will then serve one another well by listening to these expectations and determine what can be incorporated in order to meet (or release) the expectations that will help to facilitate a positive group dynamic.
This new resource will help.
Be sure to check out the other free resources available from our Downloads page:
Free Sample Study (Study 8: “Honor Thy Colaborer”, with Facilitator’s Notes), from Embracing Followership: A Discussion Guide for Teams & Small Groups, the 12-session study guide that supplements Embracing Followership: How to Thrive in a Leader-Centric Culture.
For encouragement and guidance in understanding and applying yourself to following and leading with excellence and helping others to do the same, see:
Embracing Followership: How to Thrive in a Leader-Centric Culture (by Allen Hamlin Jr; Feb 2016), and A Discussion Guide for Teams & Small Groups (Dec 2017).
Links to other posts on this site: Blog Post Index