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Gower ponies - Allen Hamlin Jr

Leading from Behind

With the Advent/Christmas season beginning in just a few weeks, I find myself once again returning to thoughts of humility as they apply to leadership-followership (see my older post on Humility or Unity).

In Chapter 6 of Embracing Followership, on the contributions of followership, I list “Guiding from Behind.” Otherwise known as leading up, the idea is the value and opportunity for offering influence from a place at the back of the pack rather than the front of the line. Continue reading “Leading from Behind”

A Follower’s Rewarding Words

As we see the close of 2019 on the horizon, we’re in a season of gratitude. Canadians celebrated their Thanksgiving just over two weeks ago, and the USA will gorge itself on turkey and pumpkin pie at the end of this month. For me, the Advent/Christmas season continues that same thread of appreciation for what we’ve been given, for gifts received, for acts of kindness and generosity.

As a leader, I find myself thankful for the role my followers fill in gifting me with encouragement and perspective. Continue reading “A Follower’s Rewarding Words”

More in Common than Breakfast

As much as we value individualism, it seems to be that there is a strong push to ensuring that we each have at least some thread in common with others—whether we’re considering our workplace, community association, family, friends, or even in the context of the whole of humanity.

When we consider the leadership-followership dynamic and participation in an organization, establishing the reality of a common purpose (a topic I’ve written on several times) is one of the foundation stones for an effective relationship within which each person makes his or her particular contributions, in pursuit of a shared aim.

But stopping at the mere articulation of something we can all agree on isn’t going to give us the ideal context for excellent followership and our best contributions. Continue reading “More in Common than Breakfast”

Can you see clearly now?

Vision. There’s no doubt it’s important. As an eyeglass-wearing photographer, I frequently think about the importance of being able to see.

One of the most common attributes ascribed to leadership is having a vision. I wholeheartedly agree that having a sense of where to go is a valuable group resource.

I just don’t think it’s the sole purview of leadership. Continue reading “Can you see clearly now?”

Leading to Follow

There’s no shortage of attempted definitions of leadership; you can find a few of my own musings across various posts on this blog.

But perhaps a more valuable exercise is to think about the purpose of leadership. Why do people lead? What does it achieve? Continue reading “Leading to Follow”

A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Afterword & Action

Concluding our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective…

I’ve spent nearly 8 months reading and reflecting on this book; the first post in this series is dated January 23. It has surprised me in its presentation and encouraged me in its content…but I’m not entirely sure where to go next. Continue reading “A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Afterword & Action”

A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 11 & 12

Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective…

We come to my final reflection on Greenleaf’s writing, with one more post in this series to consider the Afterword (by Peter Senge) and present my own summation. Chapter 11 is entitled “An Inward Journey,” and Chapter 12 is the brief “Postscript.”

servantleadership-2Chapter 11 features an extended reflection on the Robert Frost poem “Directive”; I’ll simply highlight the most personally poignant theme: growth. Continue reading “A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 11 & 12”

A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 10

Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective…

Three relatively brief chapters remain in our journey of Servant Leadership with Greenleaf. Chapter 10 bears the title, “America and World Leadership.” While several of the author’s international observations are likely still relevant several decades after they were penned, I find this chapter especially valuable in articulating realities that exist across any relational dynamic where there is a power differential. Continue reading “A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 10”

A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 9

Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective…

Despite being in the final 50 pages of the book, Robert Greenleaf doesn’t let up on introducing new ideas and making strong calls to a life worth living. Chapter 9 is entitled “Servant Responsibility in a Bureaucratic Society,” and Greenleaf paints further pictures of institutional reality and describes the kind of lifestyle we should develop in order to be truly responsible and engaged servants .

Continue reading “A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 9”

A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 8

Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective…

After exploring the topic of servant leadership (and followership) through the various spheres of education (chapter 5), foundations (chapter 6), and churches (chapter 7), Greenleaf now reflects on the lives of two people that he sees as examples of “Servant-Leaders” (the title of chapter 8). Continue reading “A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 8”

A Servant Leadership Definition of Followership

Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective… (this post continues the series in the place of ‘A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Chapter 7-B’)

pwr-fshipModern followership exploration is often attributed to Robert Kelley who published a few articles on the topic and produced The Power of Followership in 1992. He certainly was not the first to use the term (Eugene Habecker published in 1989 & 1990), but his work made the concept accessible and practical.

Robert Greenleaf’s book, Servant Leadership, was published in 1977—the 25th anniversary edition that I’m reading was also released in 1992. When I embarked on this series of reading through the lens of followership, I was completely unaware that, in Chapter 7 (“Servant Leadership in Churches”), I would come across a rather significant and specific exploration of ‘followership’. For all the impact his work has had on leadership thinking, it’s somewhat surprising to me that Greenleaf’s thoughts on followership have hardly ever surfaced—even in the contemporary works on followership that I’ve read. Continue reading “A Servant Leadership Definition of Followership”

A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 7-A

Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective…

While most leadership literature is undoubtedly aimed at those operating in business, I applaud Greenleaf for also exploring various non-profit spheres as well: education (chapter 5), foundations (chapter 6), and now in chapter 7, “Servant Leadership in Churches.” Continue reading “A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 7-A”