Say No to "Yes Men": Followership in the Modern Military
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL
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The Air Force can greatly benefit by increasing the role of followership in professional military education at all ranks, officer and enlisted, to help create more effective leaders. It is important to understand that leadership and followership are complementary competencies and military leaders must work to master both of them. Regardless of rank, every member of the United States Military is a subordinate to someone, whether it is to the Secretary of Defense or a newly commissioned Lieutenant. In the military community, every officer is both a leader and follower simultaneously in every position they hold. Therefore, it is vital for officers to hone their followership skills in addition to leadership skills to improve their overall effectiveness. Just as followers are expected to learn from leaders, the converse should also hold true. Leaders that learn from followers become more effective leaders. Understanding this, effective followership requires both dissent and flexibility - these essential elements must be part of the development of 21st century Air Force senior leaders. This paper draws from the current body of knowledge on followership focusing on the foundational works and the followership styles they identify. It includes in-depth analysis of two traits recommended for effective leaders. This paper uses the problemsolution research methodology. The idea is not to provide a cookie-cutter follower checklist. Rather, the goal of this work is to initiate discussion of both the importance of followership and how the development and improvement of followership skills can improve the effectiveness of Air Force leaders.
- Military Forces and Organizations