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’”

Sheep & Sheepdogs

Given the option of being labeled a sheep or a sheepdog, which would you rather be?

Being called a sheep is perhaps the most common negative image of followership–often intended to portray mindlessness, weakness, simplicity.

Who wouldn’t rather be a powerful and productive sheepdog? Continue reading “Sheep & Sheepdogs”

Significance: From Potential to Participation

In our exploration of followership, we have oftentimes addressed the aspect of identity: followership is not merely an occupation, but a deeper part of who we are and what we have to offer.

Having a firm grasp on one’s identity is extremely valuable; being able to clearly answer the question “Who am I?” provides an important resource for participating with excellence and making your necessary contributions.

But there is an additional question to address. Continue reading “Significance: From Potential to Participation”

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”

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”