What does the world need?

If you’re at all enticed by the idea of following with excellence–of truly participating, making your unique contributions, co-laboring with others to achieve a common purpose–then you may have asked yourself a series of questions.

What should I do? How should I engage? What endeavors should I participate in? If I want an environment in which I can follow well, which organization, association, club, or business should I join?

In a moment of altruism, you may even ask yourself, “What does the world need?” What do I have that could be of benefit to others? Continue reading “What does the world need?”

“We weren’t born to follow”?

One of the most prominent struggles when it comes to addressing the idea of followership is the notion of identity.

Our culture has persuaded us that being identified as a follower is a curse of resignation to the powers that be, locked into a doleful and unremarkable existence of conformity and lacking conviction.

In 2009, singer/band Bon Jovi released a song that would go on to be nominated for a Grammy. It is titled “We Weren’t Born to Follow” (lyrics; video). Ostensibly about “working people picking themselves up by their bootstraps in hard times,” reading the lyrics and viewing the music video imagery would seem to portray a more definitive viewpoint about the idea of following. Continue reading ““We weren’t born to follow”?”

A Leader is Best…?

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…?”

Excerpt: Excellence in Followership

From “Chapter 5: Obligations of Followership” (p.54) in Embracing Followership: How to Thrive in a Leader-Centric Culture, which was released on Feb 24th by Kirkdale Press.

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Excerpt: ‘In Group’ Followership

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”

Urgency vs. Ownership

What motivates you to action? What prompts you to get involved, to put forth the effort, to spend the sweat to get a task accomplished?

I recently came across a video that was seeking to move people by developing a sense of urgency for the task at hand. The narrator quotes Harvard Professor John P. Kotter, author of What Leaders Really Do, saying “infecting others with a sense of urgency is the difference between effective and ineffective leadership.” (Kotter also wrote an entire book entitled A Sense of Urgency.)

This statement made me pause. Can you see some of the very strong assumptions underlying this assertion? Continue reading “Urgency vs. Ownership”

A Present of Presence

Tell me one more time: why am I going?

I’m off to a conference later this coming week. As I think about all the time, energy, and money it takes to fly far away and spend several days in very long meetings, the intimidation of it all could be fairly overwhelming for this introvert. I’m going to feel overfull–mentally and relationally–while at the same time feeling utterly empty–physically and perhaps emotionally.

I’m going to be exhausted. And yet, I know it’s all worth it.

Because presence is practically priceless. Continue reading “A Present of Presence”

Your Thoughts?…on Rest

Do you work in order to rest, or do you rest in order to work?

I devote one chapter of Embracing Followership to the concept of rest being a significant resource, one that’s necessary for us in order to follow with excellence. As I’ve contemplated the idea, I’ve come across at least two perspectives on rest. Continue reading “Your Thoughts?…on Rest”

Excerpt: Participate!

This is the grand debut! This blog post contains the first ever release of an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Embracing Followership!

Much of my experience of growing in followership has been two-fold: adopting a right perspective–about myself, my circumstances, my leader, and my peers–and then also adopting right behaviors–in the way I communicate, the activities I engage in, and the habits I form.

I blogged recently about the core truth that we all have something to contribute (see A Necessary Contribution). The truth that we each have something unique and valuable to bring to an organization is one such right perspective that we will each benefit from adopting. But, there is also a consequent action that should accompany this right thinking. Continue reading “Excerpt: Participate!”

A Necessary Contribution

One of the struggles I’ve faced in my own followership is wondering whether my contribution is significant, or even needed. When we see ourselves as just one cog in a large organizational machine, it may be easy for us to dismiss the value of our participation. If we perceive our role as being nothing terribly special, if we overlook our personal uniqueness in terms of talents, experiences, and perspective, then we may conclude that our involvement is optional.

If we don’t show up, we won’t be missed. Continue reading “A Necessary Contribution”