New Free Resource: Leader-Follower Lists

One of my favorite activities when working with groups to inspire thinking about leadership and followership is to do some simple brainstorming to consider the various qualities, characteristics, responsibilities, and expectations that we attach to these two different people/roles. And to compare and contrast those lists.

In order to facilitate that, we’ve created a simple worksheet that you can use for your own personal reflection and group dialogue. Continue reading “New Free Resource: Leader-Follower Lists”

New Free Resource: Followership Self-Evaluation

Many of us regularly describe the work of personal development and growth as a “journey.” One thing that’s true of any trip is that it begins somewhere. For a GPS app to be able to plot your route to your destination, it has to be able to determine your current location.

Similarly, as we engage in the work of change and transformation, knowing where we are currently is essential for identifying where we’d like to go, the best course of action to take, the appropriate vehicles to use, as well as some of the challenges that might harass us while we’re trying to get there.

Continue reading “New Free Resource: Followership Self-Evaluation”

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”

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?”

Followership is Not New

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”

A Critical Oversight in ‘Team’

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’”

Leader: the ideal human being?

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 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!)”

Followership: Object or Identity?

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?”

“We weren’t born to follow”?

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”?”

“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 Leader Is…

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…”