Lessons In Leadership: Build Your Followership



I often encounter leaders who feel like their careers have stalled and they don’t really know why this has happened or how to proactively manage their careers without seeming too “political” in the eyes of their peers.

The harsh reality is that as you progress higher in the organization, the positions are fewer while the competition for them increases. If you are like most corporate citizens, you believe that by working hard and demonstrating loyalty and commitment you will be recognized and continue to progress.

What if you are a field leader who is very successful and not at the Corporate office? What if you are a high potential Director in a business unit away from headquarters? In order to succeed you will need to become more strategic and take these steps to ensure you are on the “top of mind” of key leaders as openings occur.

1. Have a discussion with your manager and find out how you are viewed by his/her senior management. Ask him/her which leaders they recommend for you to meet.

2. Volunteer to your manager to work on enterprise-wide initiatives and task forces. These are great opportunities for exposure to other departments, leaders and teams.

3. List the 6-7 key stakeholders at your manager’s level and above whom you should contact on a periodic basis to form a relationship. For example, if the CFO is key to your career then make plans to spend time with the CFO when you are in the home office.

4. Get your LinkedIn profile updated. Most search firms rely on this tool to conduct their research. Employees in your company also can review your profile since they don’t have access to your resume anywhere else.

5. Seek a mentor in your company. This would be someone at your manager’s level or higher.  When you go to that person to ask for help, be sure you have the role you desire for them to play specified so you can communicate your expectations to see if they will be able to serve  in that role.

6. Establish a relationship with the most senior HR executive. Many leaders don’t take HR into consideration for career mobility but they are always present when talent discussions occur. While they rarely recommend on their own they can veto a suggestion from your senior leadership team.


If you take these steps you can begin to build stronger followership in your company and promote yourself in professional and appropriate ways. These actions can help you move your career along faster than simply waiting for someone to call and ask you to take a role.