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Characteristics of Healthy Followers — Part 4Malcolm Webber
Everything does not depend upon the leader. If our churches and Christian ministries are to be healthy, every member must take responsibility for the whole, functioning actively and thoughtfully.
In our last three Letters we studied the first nine out of eleven characteristics of effective followers. We saw that healthy followers obey, encourage, take responsibility, give advice and counsel, and challenge when necessary, seek honest feedback, clarify roles and expectations, and show appreciation. The final three characteristics of healthy followers are:
|9.||Keep the leader informed. Leaders rely on their followers to keep them informed about many aspects of the life and activity of the organization.
Without accurate and timely information, a leader cannot make good decisions since he will lack a complete picture of what is happening. Leaders who appear not to know what is going on will feel and look incompetent; it is embarrassing for a leader to hear from others about events or changes taking place within his sphere of authority. Followers must share both positive and negative information with their leaders; those who “protect” the leader by withholding negative information sabotage the entire organization. Exactly how much and how often you should inform the leader about issues are complex matters. A leader cannot, and should not, be aware of all the details in an organization. Finding the right balance is much easier when there is a relationship of mutual trust and respect.
|10.||Verify accuracy. It is extremely important that the follower verify the accuracy of information he passes along to the leader. Rumors, complaints and reports of problems can have a disproportionate effect if the leader assumes incorrectly that the follower took the time to substantiate them.
Moreover, the good follower will not pretend to know more than he really does when asked about a given situation, preferring instead to defer his answer until he has had a chance to find out.
|11.||Resist inappropriate influence. The healthy follower knows he is not required by God to comply with instructions to do what is abusive, illegal or unethical, or to believe what is theologically aberrant. He will not sacrifice the purpose of the organization or his own integrity just to maintain harmony and minimize conflict.
First, in a firm but tactful way, he should remind the leader of his own spiritual and ethical responsibilities, pointing out the negative consequences of the proposed course of action.
Second, he should attempt to hold the leader accountable within the authority structure of the organization. If his attempts at bringing correction fail, he may need to leave the organization. At all times, he must retain the right spirit and not become personally hostile.
These are the eleven characteristics of effective followers.