U.S.

December 14, 2012

Followership: a key to future success

Airman 1st Class Christine Griffiths
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Chief Master Sgt. Dawna Cnota, 355th Fighter Wing command chief, led a ‘Lunch and Learn’ class at the Kennedy Professional Development Center Dec. 5.
The class revolved around the importance of followership.

“There are about 19,406 books about leadership, but how many are about followership?” Cnota asked. “Currently there are four books out there about followership.”

Chief Cnota briefed slides from the Gettysburg Leadership Experience seminar on followership she had attended a few years back and found helpful as well as useful in her military career. The seminar focuses on leadership that has been conducted in the past, and using those previous examples as tools for modern day leaders.

“When we were presented this briefing on followership, I felt like there were things that had been offered that were pretty amazing, especially for the military.” Cnota said. “ I can’t think of any other place where the followership piece is as important. I’m not sure we really study it. We talk about it a little bit in Air Force Instruction 36-2618, telling you what some expectations are, but we really don’t get into the nuts and bolts of how to be a good follower.”

She presented notes she had taken from the Gettysburg Leadership seminar pertaining to what it takes to be a good leader and follower. The slides recognized the importance followers have to their leaders, how good or bad leaders affect their followers, and identifying different follower styles.

“Your Airmen are the ones that are going to know how to get things done better, that is what the Innovative Development Through Employee Awareness program is all about,” Cnota said. “Simple ideas that are saving the Air Force millions of dollars and man hours just because someone had a great idea and someone else listened. You have to listen to your folks. Take that opportunity to affect change.”

Airman 1st Class Michelle Madsen, 355th Communications Squadron knowledge operations manager, identified with the information given.

“I like that she said 85 percent of our people are valued followers who don’t do anything bad and aren’t superb at all they do, but they are the most forgotten,” Madsen said. “I never thought about it that way, because I could picture that in my office. There people that stand out, that are born leaders and are very good at their job and showing people what to do. Then there are others that aren’t too great and don’t care. Those two groups mentioned on the graph get the most attention because they’re completely different from one another; but now that I see that, I see all the middle people, the valued followers, have a great importance to the mission.”

Master Sgt. Jamar Jordan, 23rd Wing ground safety manager, enjoys the idea of positive thinking and teamwork within the military. He attended the class in hopes of learning more about it and passing on the information to those who are moving into leadership positions in and out of the military.

“I thought the class was good,” Jordan said. “I think it’s a lot of knowledge that sometimes goes unnoticed in the military. She said, ‘We are not taught followership. Everyone’s destined to be the leader,’ but I think that if you can go back in time, you will see all the great leaders always had a strong team behind them. They just don’t necessarily get all the credit.”

Both Jordan and Madsen said they would recommend this class to anyone if it was every taught again, especially junior enlisted Airmen.

“I would recommend this class to be taught in Airmen Leadership School,” Jordan said. “My time in the military is pretty much done, but it is up to us to ensure those coming behind us are better than we were. The more this is pushed down further, the better chance it has to come all the way up to the top again versus learning it now at my rank.”




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(U.S. Air Force Illustration by Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

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