Excerpt: No Leader is an Island

A sample chapter of Embracing Followership has just been released!

You can find “Chapter 24: Displaying Dependence” available as a standalone article on this external website: https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/no-leader-is-an-island/ Continue reading “Excerpt: No Leader is an Island”

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Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #4

What is the ultimate aim of your leadership? There are a variety of tasks that fit under the classic definitions of leadership–making decisions, exerting influence, improving efficiency, increasing profits–but none of these capture what I believe to be at the heart of excellent leadership.

Excellent leadership fosters excellent followership. Continue reading “Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #4”

Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #3

Question: do your followers have a seat at the table? Is their potential for contribution being inhibited by always receiving their information through your personal filters? Are the gaps in your perspective leaving out relevant details, dismissing valuable courses of action, and leading to missed opportunities to anticipate needs and take next steps? Continue reading “Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #3”

Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #2

As a leader, there are a number of things one can do to facilitate excellent followership. We previously looked at “displaying dependence” as one critical aspect for opening the doorway to trust and soliciting the best contributions from your followers. Today, we consider establishing the environment.

Establishing the Environment. Teams and organizations have their own cultures, and one of the values of culture is in providing norms for interaction and expectations. Culture operates on a number of levels: broad national cultures create one layer of expectation, but those expectations and the nature of relationships become further refined (for example) at the state level, the organizational level, the department level, etc. There are layers and layers of culture that feed into the environment within which a given team operates.

It is the duty of the leader to intentionally establish that environment in such a way that it promotes, expects, and relies upon excellent followership.

What are some environmental/cultural factors that a leader needs to consider? Continue reading “Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #2”

Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #1

In my personal journey of exploring followership, one of my early frustrations was that much of the writing on following was actually aimed at leaders, instructing them in how to make good followers. As a non-leader (at the time), I was looking for a resource that had someone like me as the intended audience.

While I believe that excellent followership begins in the followers themselves, in my journey of serving on various international teams and working groups, I’ve certainly seen that leaders do indeed have an important role to play in facilitating others’ followership. The cooperation of leaders and followers is a relational dynamic, a two-way street of influence, and thus the actions and characteristics of the one greatly impact the quality of the other to fulfill his/her role.

Looking at leadership through the lens of followership, what can a leader do to facilitate and encourage excellent followers? Continue reading “Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #1”

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”

Followership is…? (not Twitter!)

Followership. This blog, and many books, are focused on the topic of following. But what is it that we’re talking about?

The abundance of books on leadership, each of which offers its own definition of that concept, hasn’t really brought us any closer to a universally agreed-upon characterization of this fundamental idea. And honestly, this drives the mathematician/scientist side of me a little nuts.

So is there any hope for us to achieve something definitive for the notion of ‘followership’? Continue reading “Followership is…? (not Twitter!)”

What does the world need?

If you’re at all enticed by the idea of following with excellence–of truly participating, making your unique contributions, co-laboring with others to achieve a common purpose–then you may have asked yourself a series of questions.

What should I do? How should I engage? What endeavors should I participate in? If I want an environment in which I can follow well, which organization, association, club, or business should I join?

In a moment of altruism, you may even ask yourself, “What does the world need?” What do I have that could be of benefit to others? Continue reading “What does the world need?”

A Leader is Best…?

What are the best attributes of a leader?

There is a famous quote on leadership from Lao Tzu that many are familiar with:

A leader is best when people barely know he exists; when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.

I understand the intent of the observation: there is some virtue to be found in a leader that is able to facilitate the contribution of his followers to such an extent that he falls into the background amidst their accomplishments.

But I think there are some notions that are worthy of deeper reconsideration in Lao Tzu’s words. Continue reading “A Leader is Best…?”

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: Continue reading “Excerpt: ‘In Group’ Followership”

Yes or No?

How do you decide whether you should or shouldn’t do something? Apart from moral, legal, and ethical issues–when an opportunity comes up, how do you decide whether or not to do it?

This past week was a busy one for me. Leading up to having the final proof of Embracing Followership sent off to the printer on Friday meant that I needed to read through the entire book, twice. At 228 pages each time, that’s a lot of reading for me, and I read slowly.

How did I find the time to do so? I had to say no to other things that came up, things that may have been good and enjoyable, but which couldn’t take priority. Continue reading “Yes or No?”