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”

Is your job easy? Do you want it to be?

I recall hearing a little phrase while growing up. “Do something you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

The sentiment is sweet: if you’re able to give yourself to a task/role that you’re passionate about and it can serve as a means of livelihood, then you will escape the drudgery that many adults face who perform a job merely to earn an income in order to survive.

Behind that little phrase, though, is a deeply-held value. Most people would rather that things feel easy. We don’t want our occupation to be hard. Get in, get out, go on vacation…with the least effort, bruising, or discomfort along the way. Continue reading “Is your job easy? Do you want it to be?”

Important Or Accessible? Why Not Both/And

I enjoy watching political dramas from time to time (The West Wing, Madam Secretary) and have made an observation: the people that are the most important tend to be the least accessible. Continue reading “Important Or Accessible? Why Not Both/And”

New Free Resource: What would you do if someone gave you…?

I’m not a dreamer. I’m not a visionary. Possibilities elude me. Passions are often fairly subdued. And yet, all of these things are vital for me to be the best contributor I can be.

So, I decided to give myself some help. I created a reflective, conversational activity to stimulate my heart and mind to birth some vision and engender some possibilities about what I would like to see accomplished in and through my life. Continue reading “New Free Resource: What would you do if someone gave you…?”

Teams? Small Groups? What’s the difference?

With next week’s release of my second book, Embracing Followership: A Discussion Guide for Teams & Small Groups, it seems fitting that we explore a few definitions.

A book for teams and small groups? What’s the difference? Am I just repeating myself? Continue reading “Teams? Small Groups? What’s the difference?”

Does Distance Leadership Beget Virtual Followership?

I’ve seen a few article headlines recently that some employers are recalling their distance (or stay-at-home) employees and bringing them back into the office space.  Are we finding that separation isn’t so convenient and effective after all? What about when it’s unavoidable? Continue reading “Does Distance Leadership Beget Virtual Followership?”

Leadership is Relationship

Getting to the essence, the definition of ‘leadership’, is perhaps the Holy Grail of modern business and management literature. Everyone seems interested in what the key is, what the core is, what aspect–when given the right amount of investment and expertise–will unlock leadership success. Continue reading “Leadership is Relationship”

Letting Go of What You Want

Some would say we live in a leader-driven culture; I think it’s fair to simply say that we live in a driven culture, a society which revolves around individual whims and desires and the efforts to see those desires fulfilled. We’re told to grab hold of the things we want, to make things happen.

One lesson I’ve learned in my own followership is that this kind of advice doesn’t lead to the best outcomes in all situations. I need to be able to handle not getting my own way. I need to be able to set aside my own preferences. I need to be able to deal with loss. Continue reading “Letting Go of What You Want”

Leadership: Access, Not Vision

Modern culture has often drawn a direct definition of leadership from the idea of vision, positing that leadership at its heart is the formulation and communication of a compelling vision. And I have often explored this common association between leadership and vision (see these various posts), seeking to establish the sphere of vision as the purview of both leaders and followers. Having, promoting, and fulfilling a vision is not exclusively a leadership function, but belongs to the realm of followership as well.

If vision isn’t one of the distinctives of leadership, then what element separates out the leadership role from followership? Continue reading “Leadership: Access, Not Vision”

Dishonor Among These

Whenever we pursue a topic that is primarily relational–and the leadership-followership dynamic is one such topic–there are a number of attributes that we must consider. Communication and trust are two central facets of relationship. But another, and more commonly overlooked, aspect that must be explored is honor. Continue reading “Dishonor Among These”

Who are the Change Agents?

Being a follower must be the easiest role in the world.

By many definitions, it’s leaders who are visionaries, who are burdened with a grand sense of where we need to go and how we need to get there. It’s also leaders who are the agents of change, the ones who bring about progress, improvement, achievement, and revolution.

If that’s true, then as a follower, there’s a fairly simple question: what’s left for me to do? Continue reading “Who are the Change Agents?”

Leadership, Followership, & Consensus

I was recently presented with these words, reported to be from former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: “Consensus is the absence of leadership.”

Coming from a perspective of intense interest in the subject of followership and group dynamics, this perspective instantly set off in me varying degrees of umbrage and frustration. Continue reading “Leadership, Followership, & Consensus”