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”
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?”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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?”
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”
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”
I’ve spent most of my career up to this point in strictly a followership role, without any formal position of leadership. In that time, I don’t think I ever found myself saying of my leaders, “You guys don’t know how good you’ve got it; your role is so easy compared to mine.”
Having more recently stepped into a leadership role, I can now verify the degree of challenge and burden which I expect many leaders face.
But does that mean that leadership is harder than followership? Continue reading “Lead or Follow: which is easier?”
A King born in a stable. This season of Advent, leading up to the climax of Christmas, highlights for us the unfathomable surprise to be found in the marriage of majesty and the mundane.
There are few more poignant depictions of humility in Western culture than to behold a monarch being birthed in a manger.
Humility–and its accompanying virtues of submission and honor–are foundational concepts for us as we think about following with excellence. Insisting that you are superior when compared to your peers or superiors will quickly close off many opportunities for your contribution and influence.
For me, humility and unity go hand-in-hand, but there is a bit of a chicken-and-egg conundrum here. Continue reading “Humility or Unity: Which Comes First?”
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?”