Excerpt: ‘In Group’ Followership

Having spent a little time in Japan, one concept that I’ve learned about is the sense of there being an ‘in group’ and an ‘out group’. There are people with whom you are connected–by commonality, experience, relationship–and there is everybody else.

Without a strong notion of association as a member of a particular ‘in group’, we are almost certainly condemned to struggle in our followership. If we view ourselves as separate, outside, or different from the group, we will be hard-pressed to fully participate and relate–and thus unleash our very best contributions.

I share this thought in Chapter 20 (titled “Association”) of Embracing Followership:

Although we certainly hope to be an influence for the better within our organizations, we are poor followers if we begin our association with a need to fundamentally rewire the group to make it congruent with our values. Change often does happen from the inside out, but when we oppose quintessential elements of an organization’s values, goals, or methods, we would be wise to rethink our choice to join.

As you look ahead into this year, who is your ‘in group’? Are there corporate endeavors in which you feel a bit outside on the fringes? Is that a result of differences in values, preferences, or approaches that you are carrying with you?

It may be time to evaluate your involvement: are there some preferences you need to let go of? Some values that you need to adopt? Are you in need of embracing alternative methods with openness? Do you need to open your sense of ‘in group’ to new people or new characteristics?

Or, is it the case that you need to maintain your values and distinctives and perhaps find a different group with which to align, and where you can exhibit the fullness of your stewardship and ownership?


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