I’m a fan of the Star Wars saga; as a boy who grew up in the 1980’s, I could hardly escape it.
While I will always treasure the original trilogy for the quality of their storytelling and special effects, I do appreciate the more recent films for the additional backdrop they create for this grand space opera.
Episode II, which was released in 2002 and entitled “Attack of the Clones”, has stirred up in me some recent thinking about followership. (And also taken me back to some of my original inspiration in considering followership: the rodents known as lemmings.)
In the film, a genetically engineered army is created. What caught my attention is that this army, composed entirely of soldiers cloned from a single original, consists of a wide variety of units and ranks. There are pilots and artillery specialists, tank drivers and special forces commandos. And there are captains and cannon fodder.
It made me ask the question, “How do you promote a clone?” Continue reading “How do you promote a clone?”
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”
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’”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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?”
What are the best attributes of a leader?
There is a famous quote on leadership from Lao Tzu that many are familiar with:
A leader is best when people barely know he exists; when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.
I understand the intent of the observation: there is some virtue to be found in a leader that is able to facilitate the contribution of his followers to such an extent that he falls into the background amidst their accomplishments.
But I think there are some notions that are worthy of deeper reconsideration in Lao Tzu’s words. Continue reading “A Leader is Best…?”
Having spent a little time in Japan, one concept that I’ve learned about is the sense of there being an ‘in group’ and an ‘out group’. There are people with whom you are connected–by commonality, experience, relationship–and there is everybody else.
Without a strong notion of association as a member of a particular ‘in group’, we are almost certainly condemned to struggle in our followership. If we view ourselves as separate, outside, or different from the group, we will be hard-pressed to fully participate and relate–and thus unleash our very best contributions.
I share this thought in Chapter 20 (titled “Association”) of Embracing Followership: Continue reading “Excerpt: ‘In Group’ Followership”
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?”