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A Followership Definition of Servant Leadership?

As a mathematician, I know that definitions are important. Precision and clarity about what we’re talking about can mean the difference between truth/reality and error/misconception.

But as a follower, as a leader, as someone committed to personal development, I see that it’s possible that we might get so bogged down in definitions that we never actually get to the point of wrestling with the real issues and engaging in real growth, transformation, and change. Continue reading “A Followership Definition of Servant Leadership?”

Followership: Ability & Attitude

As the concept of followership gains traction in contemporary thinking, it’s undoubtedly going to face one of the afflictions that plagues discussions of leadership: how do we define what we’re talking about? Continue reading “Followership: Ability & Attitude”

Excellent Leadership through Servant Followership

Despite being originally described by Robert Greenleaf in 1977, the concept of ‘servant leadership’ remains a popular consideration in the modern exploration of organizational dynamics. This bears out in my own experience: by far the most popular post on this website is our feature exploring Servant Leadership & Excellent Followership.

I’ll be delivering a seminar in a few weeks on the notion of being a follower through the lens of being a leader. Part VI of my book Embracing Followership: How to Thrive in a Leader-Centric Culture is dedicated to this topic, and I find my thinking continuing to both expand and refine in this area. Continue reading “Excellent Leadership through Servant Followership”

New Free Resource: Leadership Self-Evaluation

Personal development and self-awareness are two critical aspects of both our leadership and followership. If we don’t know who we are, who we can become, and make some effort to get there, the quality of our contributions, in any role or under any title, will always be something less than what they could be. Continue reading “New Free Resource: Leadership Self-Evaluation”

New Free Resource: Leader-Follower Lists

One of my favorite activities when working with groups to inspire thinking about leadership and followership is to do some simple brainstorming to consider the various qualities, characteristics, responsibilities, and expectations that we attach to these two different people/roles. And to compare and contrast those lists.

In order to facilitate that, we’ve created a simple worksheet that you can use for your own personal reflection and group dialogue. Continue reading “New Free Resource: Leader-Follower Lists”

New Free Resource: Surfacing Expectations

If you’ve tracked with this blog over the years, or spent time with the Embracing Followership books, you’ll likely have noticed that there are several significant threads which continually arise as we explore following with excellence.

Relationship and Communication are two of these essential themes. If you flip through the Subject Index at the back of the book, and use the number of page references as one indicator of most significant ideas, do you know which topic comes in as next most important? Continue reading “New Free Resource: Surfacing Expectations”

New Free Resource: Enneagram Profile

While blog posts are valuable for presenting ideas and helping to create perspective, ultimately one’s journey of excellent followership and personal growth is best served by having concrete opportunities for growing in self-awareness and then making an effort to “self-revelate”—to share with others (your peers & superiors) who you are, what you value, what you have to offer.

Resources for individual reflection and group conversation are one way to facilitate those occasions for self-discovery and self-disclosure. Continue reading “New Free Resource: Enneagram Profile”

New Free Resource: Followership Self-Evaluation

Many of us regularly describe the work of personal development and growth as a “journey.” One thing that’s true of any trip is that it begins somewhere. For a GPS app to be able to plot your route to your destination, it has to be able to determine your current location.

Similarly, as we engage in the work of change and transformation, knowing where we are currently is essential for identifying where we’d like to go, the best course of action to take, the appropriate vehicles to use, as well as some of the challenges that might harass us while we’re trying to get there.

Continue reading “New Free Resource: Followership Self-Evaluation”

Enhancing Excellent Followership as a Distance Leader: Part 3 (feedback)

In our previous two posts, we looked at trust and clarity as two essential aims that a distance leader can undertake in order to encourage excellent followership among remote followers. For our final exploration in this series, we consider feedback. Continue reading “Enhancing Excellent Followership as a Distance Leader: Part 3 (feedback)”

Enhancing Excellent Followership as a Distance Leader: Part 2 (clarity)

We looked previously at how a distance leader can establish trust as a core aspect of encouraging excellent followership. We now turn to the importance of clarity.

Throughout Embracing Followership, the thread of communication is an essential component of the leader-follower dynamic. Certainly if that dynamic is to be maintained across a geographic distance, the investment in communication becomes all the more critical, and the leader must be intentional to address the particular challenges to be found within distance communication. Continue reading “Enhancing Excellent Followership as a Distance Leader: Part 2 (clarity)”

Enhancing Excellent Followership as a Distance Leader: Part 1 (trust)

I wrote previously about the challenges inherent in the common contemporary dynamic of leaders and their followers often working together without being co-located (see “Does Distance Leadership Beget Virtual Followership?“). How do we follow well amidst the temptations and challenges of laboring out of site of our superior (and our colleagues)?

This question also needs to be examined from the other side of relationship: what can distance leaders do in order to facilitate following with excellence? What are the unique challenges and opportunities that they can address in order to make the most of being remote? Continue reading “Enhancing Excellent Followership as a Distance Leader: Part 1 (trust)”

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

As an American living in the UK for the last 6 years, I have ample opportunity to appreciate that—despite shared history and plentiful similarities—our two cultures are clearly distinct. The truth of us being “two peoples separated by a common language” is readily apparent, but there are many other stereotypes that characterize us as undeniably different in posture and perspective.

The British have an incredible comfort with queueing (waiting in line). It’s said that even if no one else is around, a lone Brit will still manage to form a queue! “Queue jumping” (cutting in line) is a major cultural faux pas, which draws uncharacteristically audible tuts of disapproval from mainstream cultural adherents.

On the other hand, Americans are not generally known as patient people. Instant results and responses, fast-paced lives, demanding words, action-oriented, impulsive, hot-heads…waiting on line is not generally high on any American’s list of preferred ways of handling a situation.

Although I don’t think that the British comfort with queueing is a testimony to some sort of natural virtue of patience, this point of divergence does highlight a perspective that appears across many cultures, encapsulated in the dictum “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Continue reading “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way”