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?”

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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”

Leadership Ltd. Inc.

Leadership is a daunting enterprise.  Challenges to leading effectively come from many avenues, and both internal and external factors must be addressed in order to create an ideal environment for both leaders and followers to contribute their very best. Continue reading “Leadership Ltd. Inc.”

Encouraging Ownership

One sentiment that has led to unhelpful division between leadership and followership is to believe that leaders are the ones who have (and sell) the vision, while followers are the ones who work to fulfill it.

When the organization’s leadership is setup as the only ones through whom vision can flow (I was part of one such organization), there is an inherent disempowering of followers, and an implicit message that vision–and thus the ultimate driving force behind any endeavor–is the purview of the leaders alone. Continue reading “Encouraging Ownership”

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”

Urgency vs. Ownership

What motivates you to action? What prompts you to get involved, to put forth the effort, to spend the sweat to get a task accomplished?

I recently came across a video that was seeking to move people by developing a sense of urgency for the task at hand. The narrator quotes Harvard Professor John P. Kotter, author of What Leaders Really Do, saying “infecting others with a sense of urgency is the difference between effective and ineffective leadership.” (Kotter also wrote an entire book entitled A Sense of Urgency.)

This statement made me pause. Can you see some of the very strong assumptions underlying this assertion? Continue reading “Urgency vs. Ownership”

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?”

Your Thoughts?…on Rest

Do you work in order to rest, or do you rest in order to work?

I devote one chapter of Embracing Followership to the concept of rest being a significant resource, one that’s necessary for us in order to follow with excellence. As I’ve contemplated the idea, I’ve come across at least two perspectives on rest. Continue reading “Your Thoughts?…on Rest”

A Necessary Contribution

One of the struggles I’ve faced in my own followership is wondering whether my contribution is significant, or even needed. When we see ourselves as just one cog in a large organizational machine, it may be easy for us to dismiss the value of our participation. If we perceive our role as being nothing terribly special, if we overlook our personal uniqueness in terms of talents, experiences, and perspective, then we may conclude that our involvement is optional.

If we don’t show up, we won’t be missed. Continue reading “A Necessary Contribution”