Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach understands the importance of followership because it is the backbone of teamwork and the proving ground of great leaders.
He opened his presentation at the UCCS 14th Annual Leadership Conference by quoting Leonard Bernstein who said, “The most difficult instrument to play in the orchestra is second fiddle.”
The focus of the School of Public Affairs’ Conference was on Leadership Realities and Followership, something the Mayor knows a lot about since he has played both roles in the military, private business and now public service.
Key concepts in the Mayor’s message were, effective leaders know their people, understand what motivates or demotivates them, can identify the skills and talents they possess and recognize how to leverage their strengths versus accept mediocrity.
Based on his experience in a variety of environments, he knows leadership strategies are situational and the effective leader adapts to the knowledge and experience level of the follower. Wise leaders also recognize the importance of staying true to the big picture and focused on the key objectives.
On the other hand, effective followers have the confidence to raise issues, but can do so constructively and respectfully. They are committed to a shared purpose and can operate in ambiguity throughout changing and challenging times. They possess initiative, can anticipate needs and suggest solutions.
Mayor Bach closed his speech by saying, “Followership, like leadership, is crucial to success in the workplace, our schools and our City. The better we get at cultivating good followers, the more likely we’ll be led by great leaders.”