Archive for April, 2010

Leadership needs followers – or does it?

Posted on April 25, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

As I hinted in my last blog post, there are a fair few threads coming together in mythinking and writing at the moment.

Many authors speak of servant leadership – that to best lead one needs to approach from a position of serving others. I believe this is a true statement and one that can be linked to other writing around principle centred leadership. There may seem to be a degree of altruism inthis although I suggest also looking at it in terms of determining and focusing on the purpose of the leader that then serves to identify and maintain focus and achievement of the key goal.

Thinking of who does what the leader envisions can be a very broad topic to open up. Some talk of teams and team members, others of followers and still others of resources. Followership is on my radar at the moment so I shall pause on this area for a moment.

Follower is a word with many connotations – including servant and servile and passive followership. Yet there also exists a role and a calling for followers who are active and collaborative. In fact I believe the best leaders seek out strong people to have around them so that there is collaboration, challenge and commitment. There are also many examples where leaders do seek out or limit those around them to passive and servile function – typically with fairly negative consequences.

So if leaders are the all  important roles in organisations and we target much recruitment and development effort on them – do we need as much from the people around them?

My view is yes. As a committed team player I don’t think  that any one person can possibly do it all. A leader can provide vision, direction and be the catalyst for change and growth. Yet every one of us needs a robust support team around us. And I even believe that this team of followers can operate more like peers and still be effective.

Of course there are always exceptions and instances where someone, usually the leader, has to hold overall accountability for making a decision or holding the results.

In general terms, my preference is for leadership with courageous and proactive followers.

Our next task is to reposition the definition of the word followership.

Or is it?

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Leadership Principles

Posted on April 3, 2010. Filed under: 1, expectations, Leadership and teams | Tags: |

What a month March has been! So busy that blogging has slipped off the activity list – it remained a priority yet there were so many other pressing items on my time that I haven’t been blogging. And isn’t that something that we’re all familiar with?
So many demands on our time and energy that “something gives”. Well what happens when the thing or things that are dropped even if temporarily from our activity or focus are essential to the harmony or rapport of our team?

Malcolm Gladwell wrote The Tipping Point some time ago and makes some excellent points in there about the context and seemingly small things that can be a tipping point. Others may call them the hygiene factors – the small yet significant details that give a quick and clear view of how healthy a community or a relationship is. For many of us at work it is the niceties that really count, especially after a hard day or week. The things like the boss saying hello or thanking us for a small piece of work. Being able to stop in for a 60 or 90 second chat about the weekend. Having the mental and emotional space to recognise that someone in the team needs a hand or an ear and being able to offer it.

Now are any of those things the things that tend to slip or reduce when you are busy and flat chat?

They are for me. And if the leader of the team is busy it’s a pretty sure bet that the whole team will also be busy – and perhaps more in need of those small yet significant touches.

“The Courageous Follower” by Ira Challeff raises some excellent points about the nature of teamwork being a two way activity and contribution – I hope that I have courageous followers who will challenge me if I have become withdrawn from the team and remind me that my team needs me, or that they will challenge themselves to contribute to the small things that help us as a team hold our identity and value to each other.

A busy month is great in many respects as long as the things that are not done are not the things that will undermine past work and create longer term damage.

A short post before I attend a conference and finish reading a couple of new books that are all contributing to this line of thinking.

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