What If Followership Was Voluntary?

Written by Dave Rothacker on October 27, 2020

You are the manager of a 15-tech HVAC service department. What if the owner of your company made followership voluntary?

What does that mean?

It means if you call a meeting for 7 a.m. Tuesday, the techs don’t have to attend if they don’t want to.

Holy Nightmare on Elm street Batman!

What if no one comes to your meeting? What does that mean?

It means you aren’t providing value to your coworkers. You don’t think techs want to come in early to hear you talk about rules, regulations and paperwork, do you?

The following is from the book Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini.

One of Gore’s (W.L. Gore, the maker of Gore-Tex) trends is that “commitment is voluntary.” No one has the power to give you an order. If you want people to follow you, you have to give them a reason for doing so. Persuasion, data, and competence carry the day – not raw power. As one associate told us, “If you call a meeting and no one shows up, you’re probably not a leader, because around here, no one has to go to meetings.”
Everyone at Gore has a financial stake in the company, and for most associates, this constitutes their single largest financial asset. Given that, there’s little tolerance for mediocre leaders. Underperform and your followers will find someone better to lead them.

Not Going to Happen

Be honest, for a fleeting second, did you wonder about holding voluntary meetings at your company? Probably got the same results when you used to wonder about running through junior high school halls in your underwear. Ice cold terror.

There isn’t a skilled trade’s owner in the country that would contemplate Gore’s style of organization. And I’m not going to suggest it even though I believe in its merits.

What if….?

What if you pretended that followership was voluntary? You know, get serious about adding value to those you serve.

Why have that Tuesday morning service meeting if you can’t convey value? If you’re going to “do” housekeeping and drone on rules and regulations, why waste everyone’s time? I’m sure you can figure out how to communicate all that in some other manner.

Okay, as we draw closer to Halloween, I’m going to leave you with a thought even more terrifying than voluntary followership and the Nightmare on Elm Street.

What if coworkers had a voice in hiring their leaders?

Yeah, I know, you’re pretty tough. That puffed chest and stern look add volume to, “not in my backyard bucko!”

But What if….?

I wonder if you could develop a feedback system where coworkers had to identify the type and quality of value they are receiving from their managers?

What if questions have the power to jumpstart exciting possibilities.

What if you bought our new book It’s Go-Time: Ben Stark and Chris Hunter share Insights & Strategies to Help Your Home-Service Company Succeed!? What if you did and were able to increase the value of your company ten fold? What if your managers read it and after a while, your techs started coming early to service meetings?

What if you didn’t buy the book?

“Hey Dave, wouldn’t that be like the owner who doesn’t offer training and his people stay?”