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”

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Review of Leadership Goals

Two years ago I made a profound transition. Having worked in the same organization since 2006 in various follower roles, I was asked to step into a formal leadership position.

The timing was ironic. I had recently completed the editing of the manuscript for my book, Embracing Followership: How to Thrive in a Leader-Centric Culture, in which I several times had stated that I’m a follower (not a leader). When the organization needed to increase its capacity to provide better support for teams and having asked me to provide that support for those working in various parts of the UK, I found myself needing to update the book’s content as I had stepped into a new realm of responsibility. Continue reading “Review of Leadership Goals”

At Our Best When We’re Out of Sync

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”

Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #2

As a leader, there are a number of things one can do to facilitate excellent followership. We previously looked at “displaying dependence” as one critical aspect for opening the doorway to trust and soliciting the best contributions from your followers. Today, we consider establishing the environment.

Establishing the Environment. Teams and organizations have their own cultures, and one of the values of culture is in providing norms for interaction and expectations. Culture operates on a number of levels: broad national cultures create one layer of expectation, but those expectations and the nature of relationships become further refined (for example) at the state level, the organizational level, the department level, etc. There are layers and layers of culture that feed into the environment within which a given team operates.

It is the duty of the leader to intentionally establish that environment in such a way that it promotes, expects, and relies upon excellent followership.

What are some environmental/cultural factors that a leader needs to consider? Continue reading “Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #2”

Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #1

In my personal journey of exploring followership, one of my early frustrations was that much of the writing on following was actually aimed at leaders, instructing them in how to make good followers. As a non-leader (at the time), I was looking for a resource that had someone like me as the intended audience.

While I believe that excellent followership begins in the followers themselves, in my journey of serving on various international teams and working groups, I’ve certainly seen that leaders do indeed have an important role to play in facilitating others’ followership. The cooperation of leaders and followers is a relational dynamic, a two-way street of influence, and thus the actions and characteristics of the one greatly impact the quality of the other to fulfill his/her role.

Looking at leadership through the lens of followership, what can a leader do to facilitate and encourage excellent followers? Continue reading “Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #1”

Servant Leadership & Excellent Followership

The notion of servant leadership has been en vogue in recent decades, fueled in part by Robert Greenleaf publishing his classic text in 1977. Given our cultural fascination with leadership, and our desire to imbue the concept of leadership with as many positive qualities as possible (see, “Leader: the ideal human being?“), it’s not surprising that the combination of leadership and servanthood became a popular notion.

As the idea of followership continues to be explored in more recent years, it’s worthwhile to consider how excellent followership and servant leadership are the same or different. Are they simply two perspectives on the same characteristics? Or is there an important distinction that should be part of our consideration? Continue reading “Servant Leadership & Excellent Followership”

Followership Encouragement

Honk! Honk! Honk!

I learned recently from a friend that geese in flight–in their famous “flying V” formation–honk almost continuously for a very definite purpose: encouragement & cooperation. Continue reading “Followership Encouragement”

“I trust you.”

I’ve served in a new leadership role for almost a year now, and I can still recall one of the earliest bits of affirmation that I received.

During a call with one of my subordinates which touched on a somewhat sensitive issue, uncertain what kind of response I would receive, I was given these words from the other end of the telephone: “I trust you.” Continue reading ““I trust you.””