Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #3

Question: do your followers have a seat at the table? Is their potential for contribution being inhibited by always receiving their information through your personal filters? Are the gaps in your perspective leaving out relevant details, dismissing valuable courses of action, and leading to missed opportunities to anticipate needs and take next steps? Continue reading “Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #3”

Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #2

As a leader, there are a number of things one can do to facilitate excellent followership. We previously looked at “displaying dependence” as one critical aspect for opening the doorway to trust and soliciting the best contributions from your followers. Today, we consider establishing the environment.

Establishing the Environment. Teams and organizations have their own cultures, and one of the values of culture is in providing norms for interaction and expectations. Culture operates on a number of levels: broad national cultures create one layer of expectation, but those expectations and the nature of relationships become further refined (for example) at the state level, the organizational level, the department level, etc. There are layers and layers of culture that feed into the environment within which a given team operates.

It is the duty of the leader to intentionally establish that environment in such a way that it promotes, expects, and relies upon excellent followership.

What are some environmental/cultural factors that a leader needs to consider? Continue reading “Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #2”

Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #1

In my personal journey of exploring followership, one of my early frustrations was that much of the writing on following was actually aimed at leaders, instructing them in how to make good followers. As a non-leader (at the time), I was looking for a resource that had someone like me as the intended audience.

While I believe that excellent followership begins in the followers themselves, in my journey of serving on various international teams and working groups, I’ve certainly seen that leaders do indeed have an important role to play in facilitating others’ followership. The cooperation of leaders and followers is a relational dynamic, a two-way street of influence, and thus the actions and characteristics of the one greatly impact the quality of the other to fulfill his/her role.

Looking at leadership through the lens of followership, what can a leader do to facilitate and encourage excellent followers? Continue reading “Leadership Lesson for Encouraging Excellent Followership #1”

Servant Leadership & Excellent Followership

The notion of servant leadership has been en vogue in recent decades, fueled in part by Robert Greenleaf publishing his classic text in 1977. Given our cultural fascination with leadership, and our desire to imbue the concept of leadership with as many positive qualities as possible (see, “Leader: the ideal human being?“), it’s not surprising that the combination of leadership and servanthood became a popular notion.

As the idea of followership continues to be explored in more recent years, it’s worthwhile to consider how excellent followership and servant leadership are the same or different. Are they simply two perspectives on the same characteristics? Or is there an important distinction that should be part of our consideration? Continue reading “Servant Leadership & Excellent Followership”

Person of Integrity?

As an author, perhaps it’s appropriate that I like written communication. Texting, more so than phone calls, is comfortable to me. And although my work necessitates me spending several hours a week on the phone or Skype, it’s still email that carries the bulk of my interaction with others.

Perhaps that’s why I have 11 email addresses! Continue reading “Person of Integrity?”

Leader: the ideal human being?

During a recent conference workshop, I asked the attendees to make a list of the qualities, characteristics, and responsibilities of a leader/leadership.

Here’s a sampling of what they came up with: Continue reading “Leader: the ideal human being?”

Followership Encouragement

Honk! Honk! Honk!

I learned recently from a friend that geese in flight–in their famous “flying V” formation–honk almost continuously for a very definite purpose: encouragement & cooperation. Continue reading “Followership Encouragement”

“I trust you.”

I’ve served in a new leadership role for almost a year now, and I can still recall one of the earliest bits of affirmation that I received.

During a call with one of my subordinates which touched on a somewhat sensitive issue, uncertain what kind of response I would receive, I was given these words from the other end of the telephone: “I trust you.” Continue reading ““I trust you.””

Lead or Follow: which is easier?

I’ve spent most of my career up to this point in strictly a followership role, without any formal position of leadership. In that time, I don’t think I ever found myself saying of my leaders, “You guys don’t know how good you’ve got it; your role is so easy compared to mine.”

Having more recently stepped into a leadership role, I can now verify the degree of challenge and burden which I expect many leaders face.

But does that mean that leadership is harder than followership? Continue reading “Lead or Follow: which is easier?”

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”?”

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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