One of the first reflections that helped to crystallize my thoughts on followership was the result of playing a video game in my youth which featured lemmings, small rodents which have the erroneous reputation for mindlessly throwing themselves off of cliffs in droves.
Lemmings became a symbol for mindless behavior, the desperate state of being totally reliant upon someone else for guidance, to protect you from yourself, and to hold your hand in order to get any meaningful task accomplished. In our modern society, those saviors were seen as the leaders, and the lemmings were known as followers.
As followers, we have the opportunity to correct this erroneous reputation, and to demonstrate–through our personal excellence and involvement–that the contributions of followers are vital to the success of any organizational endeavor. You’ll find encouragement and resources to facilitate your positive experience and excellent expression of followership in my book, Embracing Followership (published Feb 2016; excerpts available here). “Lemmings” features in Chapter 3.
You can read my original reflection on lemmings and followership in a blog post I entitled, “Follower = Failure?” published in July 2012.
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