By John Ekundayo
In the last edition of Followership Challenge, much was written about Functional Followers in both the organizational as well as in public leadership context. However, more focus was paid to the public leadership aspect especially in stating the attributes of Functional Followers. Simply and squarely stated, how well the followers relate or respond with other participants and stakeholders in the leadership context or process is core and crucial. In that edition, three germane attributes were mentioned. Functional Followers are cultured, committed and constructive. In continuing, there are four additional attributes that will be discussed here:
- Conscientious: They can be particularly painstaking as well as meticulous to the point that things are done according to the core values of the community or party. In this fashion, functional followers may be on collision course with inept, dishonest or corrupt leaders. They are ready to ‘blow the whistle’ like a referee or umpire is wont to do in a game when a foul is committed. Professor Barbara Kellerman of Harvard University classified these followers as “diehards”, and further put them under a sub-class she referred to as “whistle-blowers.” A case in point was the Orange Revolution in Kiev, Ukraine that did not split any blood but resulted in functional followers conscientiously and constructively rejecting the outcome of a marred election and ensured a run off took place where a clear winner emerge devoid of covert Russia’s interference.
- Confident: What can make a follower so confident? The knowledge and information possessed by some followers confer a great level of confidence in them. This in turn make leaders to be wary of the response of this type of followers in the leadership process. These followers know their roles and responsibilities as well as other stakeholders in the leadership system in context. Moreover, the access to information relating to the system’s workings and operations boost their power base. Moreover, they value and treasure lifelong learning and development of new skills especially in this digital age. There are very keen to be on the edge in acquiring new skills not minding to invest personal resources to ensure they possess updated skills in order to properly engage the system with the ultimate aim of achieving mutually agreed goal(s).
- Courageous: Functional followers are very bold and expressive to the point of critiquing the leadership process whenever the need arises. They can be bold in supporting good leaders and exposing a bad, clueless or corrupt one. This was obvious in the way and manner the employees of the World Bank pull “the rug off the feet” of its erstwhile president, Paul Wolfowitz. This was typical of functional followers initiating change peacefully, proactively and progressively. There was no seeming crisis or chaos in the organization from the outset to the conclusion of the sacking of the CEO as depicted by Professor Kellerman in her book: “FOLLOWERSHIP: How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders” (pages 34-35). It is high time, within Nigeria’s political context, this type of followers woke up to their billing to create the needed positive change devoid of rancour or riotous leanings.
- Coordinated: This type of followers knows the power of team-building, networking and building alliances with relevant stakeholders in the party, team, community, state or nation. There are connected and cooperative with other stakeholders of the same mind-set with the ultimate aim of achieving a mutually desired goal. In a coordinated concurrence, functional followers push their mutual interests into the agenda of the leaders and thus influence the leadership process that can lead to meaningful proactive, positive and progressive change. This is the core attribute that leaders that are incompetent and clueless fear most in followers. In the context of Nigeria, many elected political office holders are afraid of witnessing interconnection of followers who are cultured, confident, courageous and conscientious. It is to be pointed out that when such Functional followers collaborate in a coordinated manner, change is bound to occur.
Functional Followers Forum (3F)
In concluding this series, this columnist will want to call out to as many as fit in as functional followers to identify themselves in all the six geo-political zones of Nigeria – North East, North West, North Central, South East, South South and South West. In this context, these citizens should be 18 years old and above as these are the ones eligible to register to vote and partake in the democratic process according to the constitution. In this day and age of digital technology, there is the urgent need to collaborate functionally to initiate a peaceful, proactive and progressive change. We need to make a positive difference in the 2023 elections! To this end, you can join the columnist on the social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It is simple. Just look out for “Functional Followers Forum (3F)” on these platforms. These will be the platforms to educate and enlighten ourselves till all of us are engaged, enabled, empowered and emboldened to act appropriately and timely even as 2023 beckons!
There are core and crucial issues that Functional Followers should be agitating for right now than the infamous #EndSars of 2020 that rather set our country backward. Pointedly stated, and of paramount interest, functional followers should demand from Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) e-voting come 2023! What should hinder or inhibit the electoral regulatory body from having all elections in 2023 through e-voting when all banks in the land and many other non-financial institutions are digital compliant? Is INEC helping matters or part of the problem? The last time this columnist checked, INEC was in the process of meeting with vendors for the possible procurement of needed equipment for e-voting. It is high time, functional followers arose pushing for electoral reforms that will enhance the credibility, transparency and participation in future elections. We, Functional Followers, can make our next project, #EnhanceElectoralProcess as we are constructively cultured, committed and conscientious. Moreover, we, need to coordinate our activities with courage and confidence based on the degree of information and knowledge at our disposal. Yea, it is doable even in peaceful, positive and progressive manner!
- Dr. Ekundayo, J. M. O., can be reached via 08155262360 (SMS only) and firstname.lastname@example.org