There’s No Shame In Being A Follower


(By John Shomby) The largest percentage of business books, articles, and blogs center on leadership. What makes a great leader? How do you grow as a leader? We are bombarded with leadership advice every day. But let’s face it, not everyone is a leader – either by personality or by designation of position.

In radio, there is only one CEO, GM, or PD (whether it be one station, multiple stations, or multiple markets). So, what about the followers since there are more of them in any station/cluster than there are leaders? Is there a method to becoming a good follower? I can tell you that, without effective followers, there would be no leaders, and, most of all, there would be no results. 

Let’s, first, dispel the stigma around the word “follower”. There seems to be a negative connotation in some circles that means “going along with the crowd,” “not rocking the boat” or being totally subservient. According to Merriam-Webster, a follower is “one in the service of another”. Going a bit further – one who gives full loyalty and support to another.” Nothing negative there. 

What does it take to be an effective follower – knowing the definition? Let’s look at some of the positive attributes and you’ll see why these individuals are a main ingredient for an organization’s success.

They are Independent Thinkers.

Effective followers don’t always say “yes”. They think, critically, ask questions and highlight specific issues to be addressed. They understand the organization’s core values and are trusted to help uphold them. Air personalities would be in this group. Everywhere I’ve been, it was important to hear from them as we assembled a promotion or an on-air programming adjustment.

They Exhibit Good Judgement.

As an addendum to point one, they can distinguish between following and speaking up. There is a difference between speaking up and constantly being the “squeaky wheel.” These people know the difference. There are times also when an air staff must be able to trust the programming leadership with some decisions and these folks are on board.

They are Reliable and Have a Strong Work Ethic.

Effective followers get things done. They are dependable regularly. Leaders rely on them to help get results. There were those staff members who I knew I could count on, no matter the issue, to be there when I needed them.

They are Committed.

Effective followers support and are invested in their company’s goals. They are motivated to be an integral part of the successes, past, present, and future. The personalities/staff who are there for every market promotion and concert appearance, in some capacity, comprise this group.

They Communicate and Listen.

They can accept instructions, clarify, if necessary, and then clearly communicate any concerns or ideas. This is when someone is labeled “coachable.” They are open to getting better as much from the outside as the inside.

Ability to Collaborate

They can work in tandem with other departments on any assigned projects, promotions, etc. We all know that for any radio station to do well, programming and sales must be on the same page. 

Overall, the effective follower is engaged, always contributes their strengths, and is constantly focused on helping the company get results. Who are those followers in your organization?

Based in Nashville, TN, John Shomby is the owner and CEO of Country’s Radio Coach. He is focused on coaching and mentoring artists, radio programmers, and on-air talent to help them grow and develop inside the radio station and the industry. Reach John at [email protected] and 757-323-1460. Read John’s Radio Ink archives here.


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