A Follower’s Rewarding Words

As we see the close of 2019 on the horizon, we’re in a season of gratitude. Canadians celebrated their Thanksgiving just over two weeks ago, and the USA will gorge itself on turkey and pumpkin pie at the end of this month. For me, the Advent/Christmas season continues that same thread of appreciation for what we’ve been given, for gifts received, for acts of kindness and generosity.

As a leader, I find myself thankful for the role my followers fill in gifting me with encouragement and perspective. Continue reading “A Follower’s Rewarding Words”

More in Common than Breakfast

As much as we value individualism, it seems to be that there is a strong push to ensuring that we each have at least some thread in common with others—whether we’re considering our workplace, community association, family, friends, or even in the context of the whole of humanity.

When we consider the leadership-followership dynamic and participation in an organization, establishing the reality of a common purpose (a topic I’ve written on several times) is one of the foundation stones for an effective relationship within which each person makes his or her particular contributions, in pursuit of a shared aim.

But stopping at the mere articulation of something we can all agree on isn’t going to give us the ideal context for excellent followership and our best contributions. Continue reading “More in Common than Breakfast”

A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 9

Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective…

Despite being in the final 50 pages of the book, Robert Greenleaf doesn’t let up on introducing new ideas and making strong calls to a life worth living. Chapter 9 is entitled “Servant Responsibility in a Bureaucratic Society,” and Greenleaf paints further pictures of institutional reality and describes the kind of lifestyle we should develop in order to be truly responsible and engaged servants .

Continue reading “A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 9”

A Servant Leadership Definition of Followership

Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective… (this post continues the series in the place of ‘A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Chapter 7-B’)

pwr-fshipModern followership exploration is often attributed to Robert Kelley who published a few articles on the topic and produced The Power of Followership in 1992. He certainly was not the first to use the term (Eugene Habecker published in 1989 & 1990), but his work made the concept accessible and practical.

Robert Greenleaf’s book, Servant Leadership, was published in 1977—the 25th anniversary edition that I’m reading was also released in 1992. When I embarked on this series of reading through the lens of followership, I was completely unaware that, in Chapter 7 (“Servant Leadership in Churches”), I would come across a rather significant and specific exploration of ‘followership’. For all the impact his work has had on leadership thinking, it’s somewhat surprising to me that Greenleaf’s thoughts on followership have hardly ever surfaced—even in the contemporary works on followership that I’ve read. Continue reading “A Servant Leadership Definition of Followership”

A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 7-A

Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective…

While most leadership literature is undoubtedly aimed at those operating in business, I applaud Greenleaf for also exploring various non-profit spheres as well: education (chapter 5), foundations (chapter 6), and now in chapter 7, “Servant Leadership in Churches.” Continue reading “A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 7-A”

The Dark Side of Followership

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 Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 3

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”

A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 1-C

Continuing our reading of Robert Greenleaf’s classic work, from a followership perspective…

We complete our consideration of Chapter 1 with this final post, embracing two more significant ideas as followers consider followership and as we reflect on our leaders’ leadership. Continue reading “A Followership View of Servant Leadership: Ch 1-C”

Leadership as Representation

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”

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: Leadership Self-Evaluation

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”

New Free Resource: Leader-Follower Lists

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”