When I was about 13 years old, I spent a week in my State House of Representatives serving as a pageboy. It was my first true exposure to government—and quickly led me to the conclusion that I had no desire for a future in politics!
But upon reflection, it was also one of my clearest opportunities to witness formal leadership. I sat in a privileged position on the House floor, watching as the machinations of government grinded away while I awaited a summons to run an errand on behalf of one of the legislators. From there, I observed the reality of what it can mean to be a representative. Continue reading “Leadership as Representation”
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”
Personal development and self-awareness are two critical aspects of both our leadership and followership. If we don’t know who we are, who we can become, and make some effort to get there, the quality of our contributions, in any role or under any title, will always be something less than what they could be. Continue reading “New Free Resource: Leadership Self-Evaluation”
One of my favorite activities when working with groups to inspire thinking about leadership and followership is to do some simple brainstorming to consider the various qualities, characteristics, responsibilities, and expectations that we attach to these two different people/roles. And to compare and contrast those lists.
In order to facilitate that, we’ve created a simple worksheet that you can use for your own personal reflection and group dialogue. Continue reading “New Free Resource: Leader-Follower Lists”
If you’ve tracked with this blog over the years, or spent time with the Embracing Followership books, you’ll likely have noticed that there are several significant threads which continually arise as we explore following with excellence.
Relationship and Communication are two of these essential themes. If you flip through the Subject Index at the back of the book, and use the number of page references as one indicator of most significant ideas, do you know which topic comes in as next most important? Continue reading “New Free Resource: Surfacing Expectations”
I wrote previously about the challenges inherent in the common contemporary dynamic of leaders and their followers often working together without being co-located (see “Does Distance Leadership Beget Virtual Followership?“). How do we follow well amidst the temptations and challenges of laboring out of site of our superior (and our colleagues)?
This question also needs to be examined from the other side of relationship: what can distance leaders do in order to facilitate following with excellence? What are the unique challenges and opportunities that they can address in order to make the most of being remote? Continue reading “Enhancing Excellent Followership as a Distance Leader: Part 1 (trust)”
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”
I enjoy watching political dramas from time to time (The West Wing, Madam Secretary) and have made an observation: the people that are the most important tend to be the least accessible. Continue reading “Important Or Accessible? Why Not Both/And”
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”
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?”
Leadership is a daunting enterprise. Challenges to leading effectively come from many avenues, and both internal and external factors must be addressed in order to create an ideal environment for both leaders and followers to contribute their very best. Continue reading “Leadership Ltd. Inc.”
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?”