Leading the Four Follower Types – Sheep and Isolates- Part 4

Millennial Leadership - The Four Follower Types

In our previous article, Understanding the Four Follower Types – Part 2, we described the types of followers a leader is likely to encounter in any team. Leaders must adapt their leadership style to derive the best from each type. Leaders need to be more adept in their skills because different situations and follower types require different leadership skills or approaches.

This article is the fourth in a series of articles based on our research, analysis and findings. The articles in the series are

Additionally, Millennial Leadership Initiative – View Our Preliminary Findings Video contains our presentation at Pennsylvania State University – Abington Campus.

 

The four follower types we discussed are:

  • Proactive – actively participates in and aligns with the mission of the effort, generates ideas, challenges thoughts, and is interested in overall improvement. The Proactive’s loyalty is to the mission.
  • Die-hard Loyalist – enthusiastically embraces the leader, his/her ideas and goals, and follows the leader simply because of the leader. His/her loyalty is with the leader without regard to the mission.
  • Sheep – primarily interested in the work because it interests him/her and because he/she is getting paid. A sheep’s loyalty is to his/her work and pay, not the mission or leader. If the project fails, he/she simply moves onto the next pasture that pays and provides work.
  • Isolate – a Proactive or Die-hard Loyalist evolves into an Isolate because he/she becomes disenfranchised. The Proactive becomes weary due to the lack of idea acceptance or appreciation. The Die-hard Loyalist becomes disillusioned by the leader and has no place to direct his/her loyalty.

Note: These four follower types do not have hard-n-fast edges. Each follower can be a combination of traits. We present them here as if followers fall into one of the four categories, but that is rarely the case. Followers may exhibit traits from several categories. An astute leader will recognize the dominate category trait and be able to adapt the leadership style(s) accordingly.

In the article, Leading the Four Follower Types – Proactive and Die-hard Loyalists – Part 3, we described leadership conditions and concerns for leading the Proactives and Die-hard Loyalists. In this article, we’ll finish the discussion for leading the Sheep and Isolates.

Leading the SheepSheep Follower Type

Sheep are motivated by the work to be done and the remuneration behind it. He/she is not necessarily loyal to the mission or the leader. A leader needs to understand that. To motivate sheep, a leader delegates work to the sheep. In many cases, the sheep work autonomously and moves to the next piece of work when the last task finishes.

To lead the sheep, the leader must outline the work to be done, provide the order of accomplishment and lay the plan out for the sheep. The sheep continues to move forward moving from one pasture of work to the next pasture. Once the project or mission is complete, the sheep will move onto the next leader who has work for them. If that is the current leader, great. If not, no emotions are lost moving to the next assignment.

Sheep rarely become Isolates. Sheep usually don’t offer suggestions or ideas like the Proactives do. He/she does not require the recognition of the leader as much as the Die-hard Loyalist does. In fact, he/she doesn’t really care who the leader is. As long as the work is interesting and there is enough to do, the Sheep will continue to follow. If the leader leaves, doesn’t acknowledge the sheep or in some other fashion, disenfranchises a Sheep, the Sheep simply shrugs his/her shoulders and moves on. There is no emotional attachment to the current situation.

The onus is on the leader to provide the work and direction and the Sheep will simply follow accomplishing the work set before them.

Please note, we are not calling the Sheep mindless automatons. He/she can be quite an intelligent and passionate person. He/she may even be very energetic and outgoing. What differentiates Sheep from the rest of the followers is the loyalty factor. As leaders, we need Sheep on our team, as much as we need Proactives and Die-hard Loyalists.

In many ways, because of the number of re-organizations, projects, life-circumstances, mergers/acquisitions and layoffs we have experienced, we might be considered a Sheep. While it is always great to have an empathetic and effective leader, we are more about the work than loyalty to a person. It is always good to be involved in a mission in which we can align but paying the bills has now trumped the missions. It would be super exciting to be involved in a mission with exciting work and great pay. If that were to occur, we’d be Proactive Sheep. Bah-ahh.

Leading the IsolateIsolate Follower Type

The Isolate follower will be the toughest follower the leader manages. Isolates already have something against the team, mission or leader. An Isolate can be one of two flavors: saboteur or entrepreneur. In either case, the Isolate can be quietly biding his/her time until he/she leaves or outwardly caustic and troublesome.

Isolate Saboteur

The saboteur seeks to damage the leader or mission by underperforming, undermining the leader, purposely creating low quality results, delaying progress, or causing a ruckus through irritating or caustic behavior. He/she may use insinuation, snide remarks, negative body language, disrespect or a myriad of techniques to cause division within the team. He/she may openly undermine the leader or his/her reputation causing doubts in other minds about the leader’s ability or vision.

The leader needs to confront this type of Isolate. The leader must suppress any prejudice or preconceived ideas about the issues the Isolate may have. The leader should initiate an open conversation, preferably in private, where the Isolate can voice his/her concerns. The leader must clearly state there is no retribution or reprimand for voicing the concerns. The leader must listen carefully and without interruption. The leader must be prepared for personal insults and accusations and not react no matter how true or untrue the statement is. Any infraction of these rules by the leader will only exacerbate the problem rather than solve it.

Why is this important?

First, in many cases the Isolate simply needs to express these issues and feel he/she has been heard. Many times over our career, we have employed this technique and seen the animosity simply melt away and the situation resolved. We didn’t have to take any action. In many cases, the Isolate became a Die-hard Loyalist. In several occasions, the “Isolate” was the supervisor and we were the “employee.” We weren’t even perceived as the leader, yet, a simple conversation to clear the air where we only listened caused the other party to turn his/her adverse attitude to becoming our champion.

As an example, we were new to consulting. A previous boss hired us and negotiated the rate for our services. Shortly after starting, we were reorganized under a new supervisor who happened to be our peer at the previous employer. He struggled to pay our monthly invoices. The payments were delayed longer and longer. Finally, we decided to ask the supervisor why the payments were late, especially since the late payments caused us to pay our bills late. After much discussion and listening, the supervisor (ex-peer) blurted out our monthly invoice total was more than his take-home pay and he, being the supervisor, wasn’t comfortable with that. We tried the logical approach of stating we had to pay our taxes, benefits and travel expenses from our gross income leaving the net much less than his take-home. He said he understood all that, but it was simply the number that caused him the problem. We blinked our eyes and said, “What if we invoice you twice per month cutting the invoice in half? Would that work?” He thought and said, “Why Yes! That’ll do it.” We ended up with a Die-hard Loyalist and got paid more quickly on our invoices.

Second, the leader might uncover a general concern pervasive throughout the team but no one else has the nerve to bring it to the leader’s attention. The discussion might illuminate a blind spot the leader has, a habit which undermines his/her ability to lead, or a mannerism which annoys the team members, etc. As an example, we’ve all experienced the leader where everything must be done immediately. The team members know the panic mode is not necessary, but everyone fears mentioning the undue stress levels. Through a discussion with an Isolate, the leader might realize he is impacting his/her own success.

Listening is key to converting an Isolate Saboteur. Sometimes, the root of the issue comes out quickly and sometimes it takes a protracted conversation. The leader must remain calm, impartial, control all emotions and negative urges, and listen for the gems to resolve the problem.

Of course, not all Isolate Saboteurs can be converted back into Proactives or Die-hard Isolates. In these cases, the leader must take actions to remove the Saboteur from the team to eliminate further drama and disruptions. The actions or attitudes of the Saboteur is noticed by other team members and impacts their ability to produce or form as a team. This environment drains everyone, sometimes converting other followers to Isolates because of the perceived inept leadership.

Isolate Entrepreneur

The Isolate Entrepreneur usually evolves from the Proactive whose thoughts and ideas have been shunned by the leader too many times. As a Proactive offers opinions the leader ignores, he/she loses respect or trust in the leader’s ability. An attitude begins to form by the Proactive can do a much better job than the leader. We know this evolution from first-hand knowledge as our ideas were unheeded by our leaders. We found ourselves becoming more negative and felt disrespected. More out of happenstance than planning, we found ourselves transferring to other opportunities. Looking back, we hope we didn’t disrupt the team too much from our negative attitudes.

Isolate Entrepreneur, while he/she might exhibit negative behavior, frequently leave to start his/her own endeavors or move into another area. He/she is looking for a position which nurtures his/her abilities and where his/her ideas are heard, if not implemented. Being heard and executing ideas motivates the Isolate Entrepreneur. He/she wants to point at a result and state it was his/her idea.

Die-hard Loyalists can slip into becoming an Isolate Entrepreneur. Because a Loyalist’s loyalty lies with the leader, when he/she becomes disenfranchised, his/her normal evolution would be toward the Isolate Saboteur. But, in some cases, the Loyalist may become an Isolate Entrepreneur, stick with team for a period of time and then leave to pursue his/her passion.

Regardless of the original follower type, an Isolate Entrepreneur can be won back into the fold through being heard. Once again, the leader needs to engage in a conversation and listen to the Entrepreneur. The leader can ask probing questions to elicit problem areas the Entrepreneur sees and invite him/her to suggestion solutions. The leader needs to listen impartially, without objection and consider the Entrepreneur’s suggestions. The leader, through questioning, should further probe suggestions, especially if the leaders knows additional information the Entrepreneur doesn’t. The goal is to have a mutual exchange of ideas with the attempt to develop a better solution overall.
The leader does not need to promise or infer the Entrepreneur’s ideas will be implemented. The leader does need to assure the Entrepreneur he/she will be taken seriously.

Concluding Isolate Thoughts

Let’s conclude our discussion of the Isolate in this manner:

  1. Isolates need to be heard
  2. Isolates need to feel respected
  3. Isolates may convert back to the team via a single discussion or over time. (he/she needs to rebuild trust in the leader)
  4. Isolates hold valuable information leaders need to know.
  5. Isolates will not divulge the information unless a leader listens intently, impartially and unemotionally
  6. Isolates won’t take the lead in re-establishing the relationship, the leader must.

Conclusion

Understanding follower types is essential to a leader’s success. Long gone are the days where “one-size-fit-all” or “my way or the highway”. Successful leaders meet their followers individually. They understand the follower, what motivates him/her and leads the person accordingly. An astute leader will look for traits and signs to identify a follower type.

The first question the leader needs to ask upon meeting a follower is, “Where is this person’s loyalty?”

If the person is loyal to the mission, he/she will exhibit more Proactive traits.

If the person is loyal to the leader, he/she will exhibit Die-hard Loyalist traits.

If the person is loyal to the pay, he/she will exhibit Sheep-like traits.

And, if the person is not loyal to any of the above, he/she will exhibit Isolate traits. As the leader listens to the Isolate, the leader can endeavor to bring the follower back into the fold.

We’d like to hear your comments on our opinions expressed here. Provide stories of your experiences as they align or don’t align with our thoughts.

Copyright © American Eagle Group



Leading the Four Follower Types – Proactives and Die-hard Loyalists – Part 3

Millennial Leadership - Leading Proactives and Loyalists

In our previous article, Understanding the Four Follower Types, we described the types of followers a leader is likely to encounter in any team. Leaders must adapt their leadership style to derive the best from each type. Leaders need to be more adept in these skills because different situations and follower types require different leadership skills or approaches.

This article is the third in a series of articles based on our research, analysis and findings. The articles in the series are

Additionally, Millennial Leadership Initiative – View Our Preliminary Findings Video contains our presentation at Pennsylvania State University – Abington Campus.

 

The four follower types we discussed are:

  • Proactive – actively participates in and aligns with the mission of the effort, generates ideas, challenges thoughts, and is interested in overall improvement. The Proactive’s loyalty is to the mission.
  • Die-hard Loyalist – enthusiastically embraces the leader, his/her ideas and goals, and follows the leader simply because of the leader. His/her loyalty is with the leader without regard to the mission.
  • Sheep – primarily interested in the work because it interests him/her and because he/she is getting paid. A sheep’s loyalty is to his/her work and pay, not the mission or leader. If the project fails, he/she simply moves onto the next pasture that pays and provides work.
  • Isolate – a Proactive or Die-hard Loyalist evolves into an Isolate because he/she becomes disenfranchised. The Proactive becomes weary due to the lack of idea acceptance or appreciation. The Die-hard Loyalist becomes disillusioned by the leader and has no place to direct his/her loyalty.

Note: These four follower types do not have hard-n-fast edges. Each follower can be a combination of traits. We present them here as if followers fall into one of the four categories, but that is rarely the case. Followers may exhibit traits from several categories. An astute leader will recognize the dominate category trait and be able to adapt the leadership style(s) accordingly.

In this article, Leading the Four Follower Types – Proactive and Die-hard Loyalists – Part 3, we described leadership conditions and concerns for leading the Proactives and Die-hard Loyalists. In the next article, Leading the Four Follower Types – Sheep and Isolates- Part 4, we’ll finish the discussion for leading the Sheep and Isolates.

Leading the ProactiveProactive Follower Type

One thing we know about the Proactive follower is his/her loyalty to the mission. He/she wants the mission to succeed. As leaders, we need to nurture that desire. The simplest method of nurturing a follower is to listen. Give the Proactive follower the ability to express his/her ideas and thoughts to make the mission successful. In many cases, the simple act of listening to the follower is all that is needed. Knowing he/she has been heard satisfies the follower he/she is contributing, that his/her efforts are appreciated.

As an example, earlier in our career, we lead the effort to introduce a set of products to the USA market. To be successful, we studied the current market and competition, wrote plans to gain exposure in the market and to gain sales growth through the existing customer base and expand through new acquisitions. We spent at least three to six months developing our attack.

Joined by the VP of Marketing, we met with the company’s president. Either he was already aware of our efforts and plans or he decided on a different course. Before we could give our presentation, he said he wanted to change directions. Needless to say, we were a bit deflated. Our work was for naught.

We decided to request he listen to our presentation anyway in the hope maybe some of our work would survive and add to his new direction. To our surprise, he agreed. We presented our work. In the end, he decided he preferred his original direction and we executed on that. We left the meeting feeling like we were heard and our efforts appreciated even though it was not used. The president intelligently decided to listen and gained an enthusiastic Proactive follower as a result.

On the contrary, if the leader only listens and never acts on any of the Proactive follower’s suggestions or idea, the follower may eventually become despondent. The leader must be willing to truly consider the follower’s ideas and act on some. The leader must be willing to risk he/she doesn’t have all the information or ideas and followers, who are closer to the ground, have valid suggestions. The leader should act on those recommendations.

Finally, a leader should be willing to give the Proactive follower autonomy in acting on the behalf of the leader and in the best interest of the project. Certainly, the leader can set boundaries around the level of autonomy given and expand those boundaries as the Proactive follower proves himself/herself capable and trustworthy. In empowering the Proactive follower, the leader grooms them to become the next generation of leaders.

During interactions with Proactive followers, leaders may feel challenged or even threatened by the ideas and suggestions made. Personal attacks are never acceptable, but if a follower challenges the leader’s ideas or methods, in a respectful manner, the leader should not give into a negative emotional response. Instead, the leader should willing hear the person, consider the idea and then respond accordingly and professionally. A follower may be able to see a roadblock, a blind spot or a pothole the leader cannot. If the leader responds negatively, the follower will be unwilling to share future important information resulting in “damage” to the project’s effort.

Die-hard Loyalist Follower TypeLeading the Die-hard Loyalist

A Die-hard Loyalist is loyal to the leader. Whatever the leader sets his/her hand to, the Loyalist aligns with him/her and is willing to shoulder the load. He/she feels valued when the leader assigns them specific tasks, especially if the activity provides a semblance of authority. Empowered with the leader’s affinity, the Loyalist will complete the task. If the leader recognizes the Loyalist upon the task completion, the leader engenders more loyalty from the Loyalist.

In many cases, the Loyalist is not concerned with the project’s mission or the task at hand. He/she is motivated by the fact the leader asks him/her to accomplish it. The leader must consider the Loyalist’s abilities and talents. The leader should assign work the Loyalist can perform and some task with a bit of a skillset stretch to help the Loyalist continue to grow. Of course, assigning work beyond the reach of the Loyalist becomes a source of embarrassment and demoralization.

Since Loyalists align with the leader, he/she may be hesitant to question or challenge a leader’s ideas. As a result, obstacles or gaps in the leader’s plans may either go unnoticed or not mentioned. While a leader can see many issues, he/she will not be able to see all. If issues are not brought to light, major problems can occur.

A leader guides the energies and efforts of the Loyalist. When the leader assigns tasks the Loyalist can accomplish and when he/she does so, the leader needs to acknowledge that effort. In the case the Loyalist doesn’t perform as the leader would like, the leader should acknowledge the positive aspects of the work and instruct the Loyalist how to correct the other parts which need fixing. While this can become tiring or tedious for the leader, he/she needs to recognize what motivates the Loyalist – the recognition of the leader. The leader must keep a balanced approach so the recognition doesn’t become gratuitous.

Loyalists can be disillusioned by the leader though a myriad of circumstances. In some cases, the leader moves to another project, department or company and leaves the Loyalist behind. The Loyalist feels betrayed. It happens enough times and the Loyalist could become bitter and cynical, essentially evolving into an Isolate. In other cases, if the Loyalist feels embarrassed or shamed by the leader, he/she can become disheartened. If the leader is overly critical, the Loyalist will feel resentment.

The leader could break the Loyalist’s trust in a number of ways: divulging confidential information, speaking ill of the Loyalist, or simply ignoring him/her. The Loyalist become disillusioned because he/she doesn’t understand why the leader is acting this way. The leader needs to be profession, not break a person’s trust and apologetic if the leader inadvertently makes a mistake.

Conclusion

In our next article, we will discuss the other two follower types: Sheep and Isolates.

In this article, we described the leadership methods for managing Proactives and Die-hard Loyalists. Because the two groups are motivated differently, they respond to the leader differently. Proactives are motivated by the mission while the Die-hard Loyalists align with the leader. Proactive followers may be challenging to the leader due to questions asked, ideas offered or working autonomously. Die-hard Loyalists require more direction and guidance from the leader since their desire to be in lock-step with the leader.

Leaders must recognize the different motivational forces and skillfully use methods best suited to the follower type and situation. Because a team is comprised of the different follower types, a leader cannot not motivate the team using one method. He/she must consider the individuals in the team and lead them accordingly.

Leadership is no longer about one-size-fits-all. Leaders of today must be nimble and responsive.

I welcome your comments and thoughts. Please enter them below.

Copyright © American Eagle Group



Understanding the Four Follower Types – Part 2

In our first article, 5 Traits of Millennial Leadership – Part 1, we described the 5 trait Millennials look for in their leaders:

  • Mutual Respect
  • Appreciation for Accomplished Work
  • Assigned Something of Significance
  • Adaptability
  • Trust

This article is the second in a series of articles based on our research, analysis and findings. The articles in the series are

Additionally, Millennial Leadership Initiative – View Our Preliminary Findings Video contains our presentation at Pennsylvania State University – Abington Campus.

 

During our study to answer the question of Millennials’ perspective of leadership, we examined follower types. We discovered four main types with one type bifurcating into two branches:

  • Proactive
  • Die-hard Loyalist
  • Sheep
  • Isolate

These categories are broad generalizations of people groups. Each follower typically possesses the characteristics of each follower category to varying degrees but displays a more dominate follower type. Additionally, there are no “hard edges” between the categories. In other words, a particular follower could be considered in two categories.  These categories are described for the benefit of the leader to help determine the make-up of a his/her team and how best to lead each team member.

Additionally, followers may exhibit different follower categorization depending on the leader and situation. This phenomenon is understandable since neither leadership and followership is a science but more of an art form.

We provide leadership suggestions for each group in a subsequent article.

Proactive

The Proactive follower actively participates in the team’s mission and leader’s vision. He/she provides input, generates ideas, questions and challenges thoughts and invents new solutions. His/her loyalty is to the work at hand and the goals to be accomplished. He/she believes in the mission and wants to be materially involved in the generation of the effort’s result.Proactive Follower Type

The challenge of a proactive follower is his/her questioning the leader. In most cases, he/she is respectful of the leader’s ability and is only challenging ideas or methods to accomplish the ideas. The questions stem from the desire for improvement, not to bash or tear down the leader’s image or thoughts. If taken wrongly, the leader considers questions to be challenges to his/her authority, knowledge, expertise, etc. Of course, too many questions or suggestions can impede progress and wear on others’ emotions.

Die-hard Loyalist

The Die-hard Loyalist follower enthusiastically embraces the leader. He/she is less concerned about the team’s mission or leader’s vision. In some cases, he/she blindly follows the leader wherever the leader leads. In the mind of the Die-hard Loyalist, the leader is right, has the brightest and best ideas, knows what needs to be done and delegates to the followers the tasks to accomplish the goals. No need to question or wonder if the path being taken is right or leading to the desired end-result.

Die-hard Loyalist Follower TypeGood leaders appreciate loyal followers, but Die-hard Loyalists don’t help the leader see blind spots, errors in judgment, missing knowledge or information, etc. The “band of merry men/women” continue down the primrose path, and in some cases, to undesirable results. In most cases, the highest quality outcome is not achieved because of the lack of insight or questioning. Fortunately, few teams are comprised of a single type of follower.

Sheep

The Sheep follower is neither wedded to the leader or the project. He/she is emotionally detached to the effort and leader. Basically, he/she completes the work for the pay. He/she does what is necessary to maintain the job and collect the paycheck but doesn’t really care what he/she does to earn the wage. His/her work may be stellar. He/she could be an overachiever. But his/her loyalty is to himself/herself and earning a living. Sheep come in different shapes, sizes and colors. He/she may be hard to distinguish because of the manner of work. The key identifier to determining a follower type is the loyalty: to the mission, the leader or the pay?Sheep Follower Type

For a leader, the difficulty of this follower is motivating the Sheep. Without digging deep through questioning and listening carefully, the leader may not detect the follower is a Sheep. The leader may think because of the follower’s performance, he/she is onboard with the mission. On a positive note, the Sheep usually follows and does the work to be done, but he/she doesn’t necessarily consider the next step, consequences of current efforts or anticipate anything beyond the work assigned. The leader must always be ready with the next item to be accomplished ready to assign to the Sheep for continued work.

Isolate

Isolate followers are peculiar. For the majority of Isolate follower cases, an Isolate did not start out that way. Usually an Isolate starts out as a Proactive, Die-hard Loyalist or a Sheep. Due to circumstances or experiences, Isolates evolve over time to the isolate state.

In the case of the Proactive follower, he/she experienced enough leaders who either didn’t listen or respond to the Proactive’s questions, suggestions, ideas, challenges or discussion. The leader’s actions or inactions demoralized the Proactive to the point of no longer caring about the mission, thus, the Proactive evolves into an Isolate. He/she simply continues to do the work, but withholds the valuable questions, ideas, etc. intrinsic to the Proactive. As a result, the overall mission is compromised, but the oblivious leader is none-the-wiser. The leader assumes all is well and now, since the Proactive is silent, he/she obviously agrees and is aligned with the effort. Silence is considered approval.

Isolate Follower TypeA Die-hard Loyalist follower becomes disillusioned about the leader. Something happens where the Loyalist no longer views the leader in the same way. Situations occurring such as the leader ignoring the Loyalist’s loyalty, damning news reveals the leader is not the person envisioned by the Loyalist, bad outcomes shake the Loyalist’s confidence in the leader or simply some action taken by the leader leaves the Loyalist despondent such as the leader abandoning the Loyalist when he/she moves to a new position. Without a leader, the Loyalist is lost and isolated.

Sheep typically do not become Isolates. Since Sheep are motivated by the pay, not the leader. If the leader is bad or good, a Sheep doesn’t care. If the leader does or doesn’t listen, a Sheep doesn’t care. He/she continues for the pay. At the same time, a Sheep’s apathy can grow to the point he/she becomes an Isolate.

Two Sub-categories of Isolates

Isolate followers will fall within two sub-categories: Saboteur and Entrepreneur.

A Saboteur, also known as a disgruntled employee, can be both visible or invisible. A Saboteur may challenge everything the leader says and does just to be disruptive. He/she may become rude and disrespectful but not always to the point of being dismissed. His/her work may become sub-par resulting in lost time, money and productivity. His/her attitude may infect other team members causing divisiveness among the other followers.

An invisible Saboteur does not exhibit those characteristics. Instead, he/she is resistive to anything the leader says or does. He/she may quietly shake his/her head, show negative emotions or facial expressions, or un-affirming body language which impacts other members. The invisible Saboteur may purposefully slow the amount of work being performed, roadblock efforts or scuttle necessary information to impede progress. The impact of these hidden efforts is only seen after a period of time and the damage detected.

An Isolate Entrepreneur does not sabotage a project, instead, he/she leaves the team to pursue other interests. The departure can impact the project due to timing or the loss of a key person and knowledge. The Isolate Entrepreneur continues to support the project, albeit, less enthusiastically, until the next opportunity is found. The Isolate Entrepreneur may transfer to another part of the company, leave for another position or start his/her own company. Transferring to another part of the company is the best of the three scenarios since the brain-trust and connections are still available. Moving to another position or starting a separate company could cause additional loss of knowledge if the Isolate Entrepreneur recruits former colleagues to the new position.

Conclusion

Four follower types exist: Proactive, Die-hard Loyalist, Sheep and Isolate. Teams consist of the different types. A leader’s job is to know the various types within his/her team and leverage the benefits of each type. Identifying which team member fits which category can be tricky because the boundaries around each type may not be well defined and members may exhibit traits of more than one follower category.

Additionally, members may exhibit different traits based on the situation and the leader’s skills. Under a domineering leader, a Proactive may be less vocal and willing to ask questions. A Die-hard Loyalist may cower from fear more than demonstrate genuine loyalty. Sheep may come and go quickly. Isolates may exhibit exaggerated negative traits. Under an emotionally distant leader, all will react differently still.

By understanding the different follower types, an astute leader realizes one leadership style does not fit all people for all situations and circumstances. The leader will adapt to the people, the situation and the mission to be accomplished.

I welcome your comments and thoughts. Please enter them below.

Copyright © American Eagle Group



5 Traits of Millennial Leadership – Part 1

For the past several months, our team of researchers have dug through many articles, discussed what they have learned and explored their own desires concerning leadership as being Millennials. This article lists the five points we have learned so far.

This article is the first in a series of articles based on our research, analysis and findings. The articles in the series are

Additionally, Millennial Leadership Initiative – View Our Preliminary Findings Video contains our presentation at Pennsylvania State University – Abington Campus.

5 Traits of Millennial Leadership

Point 1: Respect

Millennials understand respect for current leaders is important. They also want to be respected by the leadership. Respect is always a two-way street. By showing disrespect from either side, the other party is immediately alienated and the relationship breaks down. As a result of the damaged relationship, the leader has little to no influence.

Millennials need to be respected for what they know. Because they grew up in an age of hyper-technology, they think differently than the older generation and as a result, come at problems in dissimilar manners. These manners may bring about challenging questions by which the leader should not be offended or become defensive, but consider their viewpoint because the questions may lead to answers. Millennials don’t expect all their questions to be correct or in the proper direction, but at least being heard and considered goes a long way in showing respect. And this is not too dissimilar to any generation’s desire – to be heard and taken under consideration.

Point 2: Appreciated

Millennials are eager to do the work assigned to them. They are eager to perform and complete the tasks at hand. They are eager to participate. After all, in majority of cases, they participated in team sports and competitions. They know the feeling of winning and losing.

When leaders show appreciation for the work being done by millennial workers, it provides the workers with a sense of pride and accomplishment. They want to know they are part of the team and helping to move the project forward. Again, which generation does not want to feel appreciated for their work?

Point 3: Doing Something of Significance

Millennials want to know what they are working on is making an impact, making a difference for the company. They understand there are menial tasks that must be performed, but they want to feel their efforts contribute to the success of the company.

We have all worked those situations which were boring and in the end, had no impact or significance. At the time, it might have appeared to be important, but in the end, the project was canceled or abandoned and the result useless. Those situation are understandable, but if day-to-day work doesn’t amount to anything, then we all become demoralized.

Leaders need to provide the vision which leads to meaningful and productive activity.

Point 4: Adaptability

Leaders need to adapt to the situation at hand and to the people involved. One-way does not fit all. It never did and never will. Different situations require different approaches. For example, in emergency situations, the leader may become more dictatorial and demand certain actions. The followers will most likely follow. But under normal conditions, if the leader continues in the dictator mode, the followers will resent the heavy-handed approach and eventually rebel.

As the team composition changes or the environment, market factors, upper management, etc. varies, the leader must adapt accordingly. Again, this concept of adaptability is just good leadership anyway. There is nothing new here concerning the millennials. It seems they desire good leadership models.

Hmm, maybe it is not the millennials we should focus on, but those people who currently hold leadership positions who don’t really understand leadership!

Point 5: Trust

In many cases, millennials have put in long hours of study to learn their skills and have the loans to prove it. In other cases, in addition to their education, they have spent years in the workforce and have experience harden by the reality of mistakes, corrections and leading by other employees and life in general. They want to be able to exercise that knowledge. They want to be trusted to do the job. Leaders need to delegate authority and responsibility to these workers and trust the job will get done.

Some leaders have been hesitant to delegate authority and responsibility. This attitude makes no sense. When they were younger, they were eager to prove themselves. Their leaders and management gave them opportunities to prove themselves, otherwise, they would not be in the position they are in today. Leaders need to trust the millennial will get the work done. Delegate the authority and responsibility to do so.

Conclusion

When we sit back and look at the situation, the millennials are no different than many of us when we were their age. We remember applying for jobs to start our careers and the job requirements stated experience was necessary. We often wondered how do we gain experience if experience is needed to get the job in the first place. Eventually, someone took the risk and hired us. We grew into the position.

As we researchers discussed the articles we read and our desires concerning leadership traits, we came to the realization that our leaders probably had the same concerns about us when we started our careers as current leaders have about millennials today. Are they capable? Can they get the job done? What if they make mistakes? How can we hand off our positions and know it will be successful? The fact is, just as we learned through our successes and failures, the next generation will do the same.

The difference may be in the fact we, the current leadership, have raised the millennial generation. One of the things we taught them was to not kowtow to the whims of poor leadership. And maybe, just maybe, we are not as confident in our ability as leaders to withstand the very trait we taught our millennials. We will cover that in future articles.

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Millennial Leadership Initiative – View Our Preliminary Findings Video

We presented our preliminary findings from our research, survey and study data analysis at Penn State University - Abington on April 25, 2018. View a video of the presentation here.

This article is part of a series of articles based on our research, analysis and findings. The articles in the series are

Additionally, Millennial Leadership Initiative – View Our Preliminary Findings Video contains our presentation at Pennsylvania State University - Abington Campus.

 

 

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Copyright © American Eagle Group