Followers can be Multipliers

My supervisor recently had us all read Liz Wiseman’s book Multipliers; it’s a fairly straightforward encouragement to leaders for them to lead in such a way as to encourage (‘multiply’) the best contributions from their followers while avoiding ‘diminishing’ behaviors.

51mi+INl5SLFrom a followership perspective, I very much appreciated Chapter 8, “Dealing with Diminishers.” Within this leadership manual, Wiseman addresses this chapter to followers, with some concrete strategies for how to get out of negative cycles in unhealthy leader-follower dynamics, and ways to maintain one’s sanity—and even improve the situation—if you work under a diminishing boss.

The more ironic thing than finding a follower-focused chapter in a leadership book, is that I found much of her advice to accord with the leader-focused chapter in my followership book! Continue reading “Followers can be Multipliers”

Avenues of Influence

It’s commonplace to say that ‘leadership is influence’; indeed some of the best-known authors use exactly that sentiment as their core definition for what it means to be a leader.

As I’ve written elsewhere (A Leader is… and Leader: the ideal human being?), while influence is one of the aspects of leading well, it’s not because that’s a core leadership function, but rather because influence is exerted by every excellent contributor within an organization, whether they have a leadership role/function or not. Excellent leaders and followers alike are to be people of influence. Continue reading “Avenues of Influence”

New Free Resource: Leader’s Evaluation of Followership

In my personal experience, effective evaluation is one of the more challenging elements of organizational dynamics and ethos.

In the particular non-profit that I’ve served within for the last 13+ years, I would say that evaluation is one of our major weaknesses.

When I previously worked in college education, evaluation and review was commonplace, but it was questionable as to whether the right things were being evaluated in the right ways, and whether the evaluations led to any meaningful improvements. Continue reading “New Free Resource: Leader’s Evaluation of Followership”

More in Common than Breakfast

As much as we value individualism, it seems to be that there is a strong push to ensuring that we each have at least some thread in common with others—whether we’re considering our workplace, community association, family, friends, or even in the context of the whole of humanity.

When we consider the leadership-followership dynamic and participation in an organization, establishing the reality of a common purpose (a topic I’ve written on several times) is one of the foundation stones for an effective relationship within which each person makes his or her particular contributions, in pursuit of a shared aim.

But stopping at the mere articulation of something we can all agree on isn’t going to give us the ideal context for excellent followership and our best contributions. Continue reading “More in Common than Breakfast”

Can you see clearly now?

Vision. There’s no doubt it’s important. As an eyeglass-wearing photographer, I frequently think about the importance of being able to see.

One of the most common attributes ascribed to leadership is having a vision. I wholeheartedly agree that having a sense of where to go is a valuable group resource.

I just don’t think it’s the sole purview of leadership. Continue reading “Can you see clearly now?”

A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Afterword & Action

Concluding our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective…

I’ve spent nearly 8 months reading and reflecting on this book; the first post in this series is dated January 23. It has surprised me in its presentation and encouraged me in its content…but I’m not entirely sure where to go next. Continue reading “A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Afterword & Action”

A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 11 & 12

Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective…

We come to my final reflection on Greenleaf’s writing, with one more post in this series to consider the Afterword (by Peter Senge) and present my own summation. Chapter 11 is entitled “An Inward Journey,” and Chapter 12 is the brief “Postscript.”

servantleadership-2Chapter 11 features an extended reflection on the Robert Frost poem “Directive”; I’ll simply highlight the most personally poignant theme: growth. Continue reading “A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 11 & 12”

A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 8

Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective…

After exploring the topic of servant leadership (and followership) through the various spheres of education (chapter 5), foundations (chapter 6), and churches (chapter 7), Greenleaf now reflects on the lives of two people that he sees as examples of “Servant-Leaders” (the title of chapter 8). Continue reading “A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 8”

A Servant Leadership Definition of Followership

Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective… (this post continues the series in the place of ‘A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Chapter 7-B’)

pwr-fshipModern followership exploration is often attributed to Robert Kelley who published a few articles on the topic and produced The Power of Followership in 1992. He certainly was not the first to use the term (Eugene Habecker published in 1989 & 1990), but his work made the concept accessible and practical.

Robert Greenleaf’s book, Servant Leadership, was published in 1977—the 25th anniversary edition that I’m reading was also released in 1992. When I embarked on this series of reading through the lens of followership, I was completely unaware that, in Chapter 7 (“Servant Leadership in Churches”), I would come across a rather significant and specific exploration of ‘followership’. For all the impact his work has had on leadership thinking, it’s somewhat surprising to me that Greenleaf’s thoughts on followership have hardly ever surfaced—even in the contemporary works on followership that I’ve read. Continue reading “A Servant Leadership Definition of Followership”

A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 7-A

Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective…

While most leadership literature is undoubtedly aimed at those operating in business, I applaud Greenleaf for also exploring various non-profit spheres as well: education (chapter 5), foundations (chapter 6), and now in chapter 7, “Servant Leadership in Churches.” Continue reading “A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 7-A”

Be a Bridge

A brief interlude in our ‘Followership View of Servant Leadership‘ series….

I’ve lived in Wales for 7 years (as of last week!); my daughter was born here, but I’ve dabbled only very lightly in the Welsh language (Croeso! Bore da! Diolch yn fawr!)*. However, I recently began to explore the culture a bit more by beginning to read a classic collection of Welsh myths and folktales entitled The Mabinogion.

In my consideration of followership, I am well-aware of the cross-cultural realities that make leadership and followership look differently in various global contexts; I dedicate Chapter 10 of my book to touching on these truths in hopes that we might all be able to set appropriate expectations and practices as we lead and follow across diverse ethnicities, worldviews, and communication styles.

Despite the importance of the differences, I love it when there are universal truths and wisdom that emerge, sound practices and perspectives relevant across time, space, and scenario. Continue reading “Be a Bridge”

A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 3

Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective…

This post will pick up on the topic of trustees (board members) which surfaced in Chapter 2, and is the focus of Chapter 3, “Trustees as Servants.”

As a follower, the most astounding aspect of Greenleaf’s presentation of the role of trustees is the weight of responsibility he places upon them to shape and engage with the organization that they’re governing. Continue reading “A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 3”