A Followership Definition of Servant Leadership?

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?”

Excellent Leadership through Servant Followership

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”

New Free Resource: Enneagram Profile

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”

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

As an American living in the UK for the last 6 years, I have ample opportunity to appreciate that—despite shared history and plentiful similarities—our two cultures are clearly distinct. The truth of us being “two peoples separated by a common language” is readily apparent, but there are many other stereotypes that characterize us as undeniably different in posture and perspective.

The British have an incredible comfort with queueing (waiting in line). It’s said that even if no one else is around, a lone Brit will still manage to form a queue! “Queue jumping” (cutting in line) is a major cultural faux pas, which draws uncharacteristically audible tuts of disapproval from mainstream cultural adherents.

On the other hand, Americans are not generally known as patient people. Instant results and responses, fast-paced lives, demanding words, action-oriented, impulsive, hot-heads…waiting on line is not generally high on any American’s list of preferred ways of handling a situation.

Although I don’t think that the British comfort with queueing is a testimony to some sort of natural virtue of patience, this point of divergence does highlight a perspective that appears across many cultures, encapsulated in the dictum “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Continue reading “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way”

Does Distance Leadership Beget Virtual Followership?

I’ve seen a few article headlines recently that some employers are recalling their distance (or stay-at-home) employees and bringing them back into the office space.  Are we finding that separation isn’t so convenient and effective after all? What about when it’s unavoidable? Continue reading “Does Distance Leadership Beget Virtual Followership?”

Leadership is Relationship

Getting to the essence, the definition of ‘leadership’, is perhaps the Holy Grail of modern business and management literature. Everyone seems interested in what the key is, what the core is, what aspect–when given the right amount of investment and expertise–will unlock leadership success. Continue reading “Leadership is Relationship”

Letting Go of What You Want

Some would say we live in a leader-driven culture; I think it’s fair to simply say that we live in a driven culture, a society which revolves around individual whims and desires and the efforts to see those desires fulfilled. We’re told to grab hold of the things we want, to make things happen.

One lesson I’ve learned in my own followership is that this kind of advice doesn’t lead to the best outcomes in all situations. I need to be able to handle not getting my own way. I need to be able to set aside my own preferences. I need to be able to deal with loss. Continue reading “Letting Go of What You Want”

Leadership: Access, Not Vision

Modern culture has often drawn a direct definition of leadership from the idea of vision, positing that leadership at its heart is the formulation and communication of a compelling vision. And I have often explored this common association between leadership and vision (see these various posts), seeking to establish the sphere of vision as the purview of both leaders and followers. Having, promoting, and fulfilling a vision is not exclusively a leadership function, but belongs to the realm of followership as well.

If vision isn’t one of the distinctives of leadership, then what element separates out the leadership role from followership? Continue reading “Leadership: Access, Not Vision”

Dishonor Among These

Whenever we pursue a topic that is primarily relational–and the leadership-followership dynamic is one such topic–there are a number of attributes that we must consider. Communication and trust are two central facets of relationship. But another, and more commonly overlooked, aspect that must be explored is honor. Continue reading “Dishonor Among These”

Who are the Change Agents?

Being a follower must be the easiest role in the world.

By many definitions, it’s leaders who are visionaries, who are burdened with a grand sense of where we need to go and how we need to get there. It’s also leaders who are the agents of change, the ones who bring about progress, improvement, achievement, and revolution.

If that’s true, then as a follower, there’s a fairly simple question: what’s left for me to do? Continue reading “Who are the Change Agents?”

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”

Leader & Follower: It Takes Two to Tango

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”