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.

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