Managing Employee Relationships: Valuing Followership and AccompanimentPosted on October 6, 2013

Vicki Noel

What are the barriers to doing this?

When leaders operate with the same hierarchical style of the printed organizational chart, there is very little room for accompaniment.  Sometimes leaders charge through their organizational work as if they are playing a solo sport, ignoring the possibilities and variety of thought their followers could offer.  There are times in leadership when you alone have to make a decision or independently take action…but thankfully very infrequently.

Why is it important to do anyway?

Accompaniment, in music, is the action of playing along with other musicians as a supporter of their performance.  Accompaniment is intended to add to a presentation, to complement what is already there, and to give balance to the other parts to make a complete composition.  Trustworthy leadership is not a solo performance.  Rather, trustworthy leadership thrives when there is balance created from each other’s contributions.  When leaders create an environment in which they invite members of their workforce to accompany them…engage them in the direction of the organization, there is huge potential for innovation and exponential results.

How can you do it?

  1. Invite followers into the work activities of your organization.  Create opportunities for your workforce to engage in the work and purpose of your department/organization.   Share your challenges and ask for their thoughts on how to make improvements.
  2. Encourage followers to speak up…and listen.  When your workforce shares their ideas (or questioning)… listen. Be willing to extend your time and ear to possible solutions from the followers you have invited to participate.  Evaluate each idea for its merit.  Try hard not to get defensive or respond as if you are challenged or threatened.
  3. Know your “place” in the big picture.  When asking for followers to accompany you in the difficult work of achieving your mission, it is important to be willing to see yourself as a distinct part of the organization…but not the most important part.  Demonstrate humility and position awareness to those you serve and your rewards will be limitless.

What are some additional leadership behaviors that demonstrate openness to others’ accompaniment?

Log on and join the conversation at  We learn best from each other’s experiences.



1 Response

Kendall L. Stewart October 6th, 2013

I like this idea of musical accompaniment, or playing a supportive role to the soloist of the moment. The best leaders do this naturally. They are always looking for others to take the lead and they are happy for them to get the credit. They enjoy being in the background and they are not offended when asked to play second fiddle. These leaders offer ideas and suggestions and encourage others to run with them.

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