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”
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?”
I had a recent interaction with a website editor that made me smile.
In creating the content tags to be used for future posts, the editor didn’t want to include ‘followership’ as one possibility because it’s too new of a term and thus needs further development and explanation; he posited that readers will need instruction and understanding before they’ll connect with the concept.
Being personally passionate about the topic of followership, I must admit that my initial reaction was umbrage, a bit annoyed and aggrieved that something so intrinsic to life, work, and relationships could be thought to be too new to highlight. But eventually, as I reflected on the journey of ‘followership’, I smiled. Continue reading “Followership is Not New”
It’s often said: There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’. When we think about team, we’re supposed to think about the collective unit, a group joined together, without individual ambitions getting in the way.
But, we don’t actually do that.
Nor should we. Continue reading “A Critical Oversight in ‘Team’”
During a recent conference workshop, I asked the attendees to make a list of the qualities, characteristics, and responsibilities of a leader/leadership.
Here’s a sampling of what they came up with: Continue reading “Leader: the ideal human being?”
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!)”
I remember when my wife was diagnosed with coeliac disease. There was a little bit of a struggle to figure out how we would talk about it. Should she say, “I have coeliac disease” or instead, “I am coeliac”? (see my reflection here)
The basic question that was tugging at us was whether this is an object (something she may either possess or dispose of) or rather an aspect of identity, something that should be adopted and acknowledged as an essential or significant aspect of her personhood.
My own journey in followership raised a similar question. Continue reading “Followership: Object or Identity?”
One of the most prominent struggles when it comes to addressing the idea of followership is the notion of identity.
Our culture has persuaded us that being identified as a follower is a curse of resignation to the powers that be, locked into a doleful and unremarkable existence of conformity and lacking conviction.
In 2009, singer/band Bon Jovi released a song that would go on to be nominated for a Grammy. It is titled “We Weren’t Born to Follow” (lyrics; video). Ostensibly about “working people picking themselves up by their bootstraps in hard times,” reading the lyrics and viewing the music video imagery would seem to portray a more definitive viewpoint about the idea of following. Continue reading ““We weren’t born to follow”?”
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.””
How do you complete that definition? What are the specific characteristics that define a leader? What are the requirements and opportunities that delineate leadership?
Looking around popular culture and workplace wisdom, we might easily expect to hear words like influence, responsibility, vision, and decisiveness.
I agree that these are qualities that are desirable in most leaders. But the truth is that these attributes are not exclusive to good leaders. Continue reading “A Leader Is…”
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…?”
I am excited that the development of the book is moving forward, and while I can’t share the entire work with you yet, I am enjoying the opportunity to provide you with a new excerpt from time to time to encourage your thinking about followership.
Last time, I shared with you that one of the core behaviors associated with excellent followership is simply participating in whatever your group or organization is doing. Today, I want to steer you towards one of the defining aspects of followership: followership is relationship.
I share these words at the very end of the book: Continue reading “Excerpt: Followership is Relationship”