Monday, August 31, 2009

63. The Paradox of Followership

The Courageous Follower is another really cool book on followership. He makes a great point that there are more followers than leaders out there, and yet there are so few books on being a good follower. Most of us who are into leading will eventually find ourselves in the presence of people that are worthy of following in some area. We may be all about influencing culture and people, but not everyone can be the leader at all times and in all phases of life. If you find yourself always being the leader, than your network is too small. If following is the only roel you ever play, you will be operating out some serious deficits and blind spots in your leadership skills. We all need to be followers at some point in our lives, if not periodically.
This book helps dispel the myths of being a follower. A follower in one who does not blindly follow, but contributes to the leaders success and the success of the organization, community or team you are working with. He unpacks the role of a follower in relation to the leader, and as the subtitle alludes to, a followers role is not just to be a yes man. Real followers help their leaders stay grounded in reality and stand up to them when they become un-aligned with the mission. A sample of the wisdom in this book lies in his listing of paradoxes inherent in being a good follower.

The Paradox of courageous followership:

1. A courageous follower has a clear internal vision of service while being attracted to a leader who articulates and embodies its external manifestations.

2. Courageous followers remain fully accountable for their actions while relinquishing some autonomy and conceding certain authority to a leader.

3. A central dichotomy of courageous followership is the need to energetically perform two opposite roles: implementer and challenger of the leaders idea's.

4. There is inherent tension between the identity a follower derives from group membership and the individuation required to question and creatively challenge the group and its leadership.

5. Followers often benefit from the leader as mentor, learning crucial things, yet at the same time must be willing to teach the leader.

6. At times, courageous followers need to lead from behind, breathing life into their leaders vision, or even vision into the leaders life.

7. Senior followers often are important leaders in their own right and must integrate within themselves the perspectives of both leadership and followership.

Friday, August 28, 2009

62. 5 Types of Followers

This is part two of The Power of Followership. As someone who is lerning how to lead and follow all at the same time, I am interested in this idea of followership. Kelley points to Five Types of Leaders (9 really if you analyze it closely).

I wonder how many people live in the pragmatic survivor mode? I realize that some people are peace keepers (not peace makers, that is an entirely different concept). They enjoy equillibrium and want to make sure things get accomplished with minimal conflict. The thing about the pragmatist is that they often become enablers to a system that is in desperate need of an earthquake. Pragmatists are great to have around when things are on track, But they can be a liability when there is something fundamentally wrong. They have a conflict aversion and most of all a risk aversion. we need examplary followers who have the courage to stand up to leaders and think critically about what is going on around them. Ironically, when this happens, an exemplary follower transforms into an exemplary leader.

61. The Power of Followership

Came a cross this cool book yesterday. It was just hanging out on the bookshelf at Austin Peay Library, waiting to be discovered. The Power of Followership is a great practical book, so I will probably do several posts on it.
Kelley outlines Seven Pathways of Followership that are quite comprehensive. He of course explores each path and described in detail.

1. Apprentice: Motivated to follow by their desire to become a leaders.
2. Disciple: Motivated to identify and bond with the leader.

3. Mentee: Motivated by the desire for personal improvement, and not necessarily by a desire to lead.
4. Comrade: Motivated by the desire to belong to a group of like minded people.

5. Loyalist: Motivated by an emotional commitment to another person.

6. Dreamer: Motivated by a personal dream and does not care about leading.

7. Lifestyle: Motivated by recognition of true state of affairs, and a desire for humility.
If you are looking to distill your discipleship roles with Jesus, this would be a great paradigm to use.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

60. Distilling Discipleship

Been reading Alan Hirsch's Handbook to The Forgotten Ways. There is a section in there on Apostolic Environments that talks about the "minimum discipleship standard." The idea is that you distill what discipleship is about into its separate components and then boil it down into short, memorable concepts and phrases that reflect the habits, practices and rhythms of what it means to follow Jesus. These concepts should be "sticky", or, be able to be easily passed along. I thought of this illustration as I contemplated this idea of distilling discipleship.

Think of someone looking into the sky and discovering the big dipper. Out of what seems to be random collections of stars, there appears a pattern or shape. The same thing happens when we look at what appears to be random stories, metaphors and commandments in scripture. We look at it long enough and we begin to notice patterns,shapes, themes and concepts. For example, look long enough in scripture and you will notice a common theme of love.

Then think of this star gazing person coming to you and sharing what they saw and experienced. They describe to you in a short, memorable way what the big dipper looks like and how to find it. Then, based on their description, you look up into the night sky to find it. Scripture is like the night sky, and we look into the story and pages of scripture and we see patterns or shapes of what Jesus is all about. Our task is to describe what we see in scripture, especially the life of Jesus, come up with a constellation of metaphors and concepts that describe who Jesus is and what he is about. This constellation then gives birth to habits, practices and rhythms that help us to be like him. Living into these habits is the process of discipleship.

Making disciples happens after we notice these beautiful patterns and shapes, and in turn try to come up with ways of helping other people, in short and memorable ways, see what we have seen. Imagine looking up into the sky with someone next to you and saying "Now look to the left a little, see the really bright one, now look to the right and up...." Making disciples is helping people see what we have seen and go through the process of distilling these shapes into visible habits and rhythms.

The goal of course is not to get it all right. If you remember the old days, sailors would learn the stars to help them get where they were going. We want to discover the shapes and patterns of Jesus and discipleship in scripture not as a end in and of itself, but as a means, or tool for us to find our way into becoming a new creation in Christ. Like the sailors of old, the journey is towards a new heaven and new earth. This is the destination!

59. Ikon Missional Incarnational Map

Our group came up with this map tonight to describe the missional incarnational activity going on. Some of these things are still in the incubation phase, but it was encouraging to map it out. We also had an innovative idea come up as a result of it. One of the ladies in the group, Lana, is going to start a ministry called "Random Acts of Kindness" or RAK. Her idea is for when we prayer walk, or when we drive around town, to make a note of things we can do to help people, or to help people right there on the spot during the prayer walk or as we are on our way to other places. We are going to call it RAK'n it up. Here is the map.