In conversation with a colleague recently, I discovered how broad the notion of ‘servant leadership’ has become. From Greenleaf’s presentation—from which I would summarize servant leadership as being focused on the development of the organization and its followers—to simple notions of exhibiting varying degrees of humility or altruism, ‘servant leadership’ is in danger of becoming so broad and ambiguous of a concept that it will lose relevance as a helpful platform for communication and reflection. Continue reading “Follower-Focused Servant Leadership, Part 1”
Another of my lockdown reads has been Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. I found his case studies very entertaining and his observations intriguing. But from a followership perspective, I found his seventh chapter, “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes,” to be the most significant. Continue reading “The Language of Followership”
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”
It’s often a dirty word. From a debasing perspective on personal worth or identity, to deviant sexual practices, there’s a lot of baggage attached to the word “submission.”
And yet, I think it’s vital that we do the hard work to overcome these skewed views and to invest the notion of submitting with all the positivity and encouragement that we possibly can. Continue reading “Submission Successful”
As we consider the quality of our followership and our experience of pursuing following with excellence, there are two facets that we certainly can’t ignore as part of our relational dynamic: our personal culture, and the culture(s) of those we work alongside—our peers and our superiors. Continue reading “New Free Resource: Culture Combination Considerations”
With the Advent/Christmas season beginning in just a few weeks, I find myself once again returning to thoughts of humility as they apply to leadership-followership (see my older post on Humility or Unity).
In Chapter 6 of Embracing Followership, on the contributions of followership, I list “Guiding from Behind.” Otherwise known as leading up, the idea is the value and opportunity for offering influence from a place at the back of the pack rather than the front of the line. Continue reading “Leading from Behind”
The contemporary emphasis on leadership has been referenced in nearly every recent article that I’ve read on the topic of followership; to be honest, I’m a bit tired of statements along the lines of “why is no one talking about followership?”—clearly, some of us are! (See my followership bibliography & recommended reads, and the excellent Wikipedia page on followership.)
While I appreciate that some writers are indeed trying to call attention to followership, I am afraid that there is one aspect of ‘leadership’ (really, humanity) that is not translating over, and which is potentially leading to an imbalanced perspective on leadership and followership.
The specific aspect I’m worried about is the dark side of followership: the realities and implications of unhealth in the lives of followers. Continue reading “The Dark Side of Followership”
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”
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”
As a mathematician, I know that definitions are important. Precision and clarity about what we’re talking about can mean the difference between truth/reality and error/misconception.
But as a follower, as a leader, as someone committed to personal development, I see that it’s possible that we might get so bogged down in definitions that we never actually get to the point of wrestling with the real issues and engaging in real growth, transformation, and change. Continue reading “A Followership Definition of Servant Leadership?”
Despite being originally described by Robert Greenleaf in 1977, the concept of ‘servant leadership’ remains a popular consideration in the modern exploration of organizational dynamics. This bears out in my own experience: by far the most popular post on this website is our feature exploring Servant Leadership & Excellent Followership.
I’ll be delivering a seminar in a few weeks on the notion of being a follower through the lens of being a leader. Part VI of my book Embracing Followership: How to Thrive in a Leader-Centric Culture is dedicated to this topic, and I find my thinking continuing to both expand and refine in this area. Continue reading “Excellent Leadership through Servant Followership”
While blog posts are valuable for presenting ideas and helping to create perspective, ultimately one’s journey of excellent followership and personal growth is best served by having concrete opportunities for growing in self-awareness and then making an effort to “self-revelate”—to share with others (your peers & superiors) who you are, what you value, what you have to offer.
Resources for individual reflection and group conversation are one way to facilitate those occasions for self-discovery and self-disclosure. Continue reading “New Free Resource: Enneagram Profile”