How do you promote a clone?

I’m a fan of the Star Wars saga; as a boy who grew up in the 1980’s, I could hardly escape it.

While I will always treasure the original trilogy for the quality of their storytelling and special effects, I do appreciate the more recent films for the additional backdrop they create for this grand space opera.

Episode II, which was released in 2002 and entitled “Attack of the Clones”, has stirred up in me some recent thinking about followership. (And also taken me back to some of my original inspiration in considering followership: the rodents known as lemmings.)

In the film, a genetically engineered army is created. What caught my attention is that this army, composed entirely of soldiers cloned from a single original, consists of a wide variety of units and ranks. There are pilots and artillery specialists, tank drivers and special forces commandos. And there are captains and cannon fodder.

It made me ask the question, “How do you promote a clone?” Continue reading “How do you promote a clone?”

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At Our Best When We’re Out of Sync

My wife and I are currently expecting the birth of our first child. As a result, we’re taking more walks than usual, in order to encourage our little one to make her arrival (see my video on the author page). We enjoy walking while holding hands, and my wife has made a keen observation: it’s most comfortable for us to walk together when we’re exactly out of step with one another. Continue reading “At Our Best When We’re Out of Sync”

Sheep & Sheepdogs

Given the option of being labeled a sheep or a sheepdog, which would you rather be?

Being called a sheep is perhaps the most common negative image of followership–often intended to portray mindlessness, weakness, simplicity.

Who wouldn’t rather be a powerful and productive sheepdog? Continue reading “Sheep & Sheepdogs”

5 Gauges for Your Followership

There are a variety of jobs in the world. Some are by nature less intense than others. I’ve had several friends that have worked as late-night security guards at various buildings or housing developments. Although their presence was important, they often related to me that the job itself was not particularly intense: they regularly spent time reading books, studying for exams, or otherwise filling their attention while on the clock.

My employment experience in the non-profit world has been somewhat different. Not only is presence important, but the intensity is fairly high. I am rarely in a position of struggling to figure out how to fill my time simply to put in the required hours. More often, we face decisions about what to say no to, what to let go of, because there isn’t enough time or energy to do everything that we could possibly invest ourselves in. There’s no end to the relationships, the preparation, the communication, the meetings that we could involve ourselves with.

But how do we know when we’re outpacing ourselves? How do we know if we’re pushing ourselves too hard, for too long—overamping on our intensity in unhealthy and unsustainable ways? How do we know whether, in the course of our desire to be excellent contributors, we are actually stretching ourselves so thin that the quality of our followership is actually diminishing, even if our short-term output seems to be multiplying? Continue reading “5 Gauges for Your Followership”

Leader & Follower: It Takes Two to Tango

When looking at an office environment or a community committee, it may sometimes be difficult to appreciate the necessity and the interplay between leader and follower roles. But in the world of dance, it’s unmistakable. Continue reading “Leader & Follower: It Takes Two to Tango”

Followership Encouragement

Honk! Honk! Honk!

I learned recently from a friend that geese in flight–in their famous “flying V” formation–honk almost continuously for a very definite purpose: encouragement & cooperation. Continue reading “Followership Encouragement”

“We follow to find out.”

In the current theatrical release of the film Risen, a Roman soldier asks the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth—after His death and the discovery of the empty tomb—if the answer to what’s going on lies to the north, in Galilee.

Peter, the de facto spokesman for the disciples, replies, “We are followers. We follow to find out.”

Having studied a number of historical examples of followership (including various biblical figures), there is a subtle profundity in Peter’s response. Continue reading ““We follow to find out.””

A Present of Presence

Tell me one more time: why am I going?

I’m off to a conference later this coming week. As I think about all the time, energy, and money it takes to fly far away and spend several days in very long meetings, the intimidation of it all could be fairly overwhelming for this introvert. I’m going to feel overfull–mentally and relationally–while at the same time feeling utterly empty–physically and perhaps emotionally.

I’m going to be exhausted. And yet, I know it’s all worth it.

Because presence is practically priceless. Continue reading “A Present of Presence”

Mutiny or Association?

There are basically two choices when it comes to following: mutiny or association.

As I embarked on my journey of exploring followership, the 1954 film The Caine Mutiny was recommended to me as a worthwhile watch. I tend to enjoy all things related to the sea anyway, so this movie, set aboard a US Naval vessel, certainly appealed to my interests.

The story revolves around the USS Caine and the assignment of Lt. Commander Queeg (Humphrey Bogart) to replace her previous captain. Queeg displays a variety of odd behaviors, including being highly suspicious of most of the crew, and some of the officers eventually (and questionably) remove him from command. Continue reading “Mutiny or Association?”

Excellent Followership: Spiderweb, Not Hamster Wheel

If you had to choose, would you rather be in a spiderweb or a hamster wheel? Sure, hamsters are cute and fluffy, but their wheels don’t go anywhere. Perhaps no better, spiderwebs can be sticky and tricky, and perhaps a bit freaky.

I’ve been musing on the idea of “support” recently. In my current role at work, I consider my primary responsibility to provide support to the 5 men and women that report to me. The focus of my efforts and my first priority is to try to determine how I can position myself and deploy resources to assist them in fulfilling their jobs.

We might call that “downward support.” Continue reading “Excellent Followership: Spiderweb, Not Hamster Wheel”

Lessons from Lemmings

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 Continue reading “Lessons from Lemmings”