20 Distinctions between a Follower and a Disengaged Employee


There are so many endless articles about leadership development and excellence, but what about the follower? Without a strong group of followers a leader has nothing. There are major difference between disengaged employees and followers. Followers show up daily and support the vision of the enterprise, while disengaged employees might choose to show up solely for a paycheck. This article is a tribute to followers, and a pulse-check for leaders who forget that followers make a choice each day to support their vision. Here are the 20 Distinctions between a Follower and a disengaged Employee:

20 Distinctions between a Follower and a disengaged Employee

Disengaged Employees Followers
Figures out what they can get away with. Learns how to maximize downtime.
Avoids networking with team members. Understands a team is crucial to success.
Questions to vent frustration. Questions to challenge and gain understanding.
Redirects opportunities and avoids ownership. Owns opportunities and improves contribution.
Believes development is compliance. Knows development is the key to their future.
Feels paychecks are for the hours they put in. Feels paychecks are receipts of hard work.
Finds ways to avoid corrective action. Performs to avoid corrective action.
Invents their own metrics of success. Follows the company’s metrics of success.
Thinks change brings inconvenience. Thinks change brings evolution.
Completes tasks for compliance. Completes tasks for contribution.
Views leadership as authority alone. Views leadership as authority and support.
Views policy as imprisonment. Views policy as responsible guidelines.
Believes their voice is for conflict. Believes their voice is for collaboration.
Hears feedback as a threat. Hears feedback as a gift.
Seeks fault when things get difficult. Supplies help when things get difficult.
Represents the company as a separate entity. Represents the company as a part of themselves.
Finds ways to get through work. Incorporates hobbies, and dreams into work.
Views morale as a leadership problem. Views morale as a challenge for everyone.
Uses the past to avoid the future. Learns from the past to enhance the future.
Views top performers as cheaters. Are top performers.


I must clarify that these are just a few distinctions between disengaged employees and followers. Additionally, this list is to identify behaviors of employees and to seek understanding. Many times disengaged employees have strong motives behind their behaviors, and you should be enthusiastic to change and develop these behaviors.

Show appreciation for the followers you have, and find ways to engage other employees. It’s crucial to understand that there are some employees that you will simply never gain their buy-in from. Partner with other leaders and human resources and make quality decisions on the future of your team.

Develop daily,

Michael Dooley

Question: What are some reasons behind disengaged employees? 



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