The seven types of followers

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Leadership is not a ‘with or against’ game, but involves a variety of different dealings, writes one expert.

There is a science to leadership – the hundreds of books and MBAs on the subject suggest as much. Perhaps, however, by spending so much time focusing on a single type of leadership, we forget about the diversity of people we have to lead. Banker and leadership blogger Brigette Hyacinth has written a brilliant article which talks – amid many other things – about the different types of followers. Here’s an extract:

1) Sycophants - The flatterers, the “yes people.” They cannot be relied upon to give critical feedback if the leader is heading in a direction that conflict with the purpose or values of the organization. They never point out problems, raise objections; they will avoid any resistance and will defer to the leader.

2) Critics - The opposition. The detractor’s goal is to challenge and question the leader’s every behaviour and policy. They can be classified as disgruntled, perhaps for some reason they were not recognized, awarded a promotion they felt they deserved. They are frequently the first to greet new employees and “tell them how things really work around here.”

3) Realists provide constructive critical thinking and interact with the group and the leader. If they agree with the current course of action, they will back the leader 100 per cent. Alternatively, if they disagree, they will challenge the leader, offering constructive alternatives to help the leader and organization achieve their aims.

4) Loyalists - The genuine supporters. They are highly engaged and work hard to support the leader. They are reliable and dependable. They are highly satisfied and productive and are passionate about the team and will exert considerable effort to make it successful by always giving suggestions.

5) Traitors - The silent haters and conspirators. They are very good actors. They are hard to spot (until it’s too late) as they have gained the leader's trust. They have strong negative emotional feelings about the leader and secretly work to undermine him/ her.

6) Spectators - The observers. They are neither here nor there and just stand on the side lines. They just work for their salary and don’t get involved. They are disengaged with the organization or task and hold a position of neutrality about the leader.

7) Opportunists -The freebooters. They have a price and can easily be bought. They like to be close to the powerful and their allegiance is to whoever is on top at the moment. You can see them in full swing at political campaigns. In the blink of an eye this welcoming committee can become a lynch mob.

You can read Brigette Hyacinth’s full article on Linkedin Pulse.
  • Ken on 2014-11-18 1:20:28 PM

    I retired from a large Bank several years ago and I can tell you that they used the term "leadership" freely but if anyone questioned a strategy or process they were quickly and negatively dealt with. The sycophants were the ones rising to the top regardless of results and often were not even in positions long enough for the deficiencies to show in how they were executing things.
    Leadership was only allowed by one person at the top of the chain, anything other than blind obedience with no question or comment was not tolerated. Unfortunately I think most of the chartered banks in Canada are run this way. Competence is valued less than compliance

  • Ron Butler on 2014-11-18 1:57:08 PM

    Ken, never saw anyone give a better analysis in two paragraphs before. Kudos

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