Friday, May 02, 2008

Leaders and followership; the reality?

An emerging theme in the academic leadership journals over the last 15 years has been the concept of followership. This concept is starting to make the move from the academic journals and conferences to operational thinking. We are encountering more and more discussion of followership in companies and organisations, including in a couple of cases competency frameworks that make use of the construct. Unfortunately it would appear that a number of organisations have seized on the wording and developed their own (often less considered and more manipulative) versions of the term.
Just looking up the two terms in google 'leadership' returns over 133,000,000 (over one hundred and thirty three million) hits whereas the term followership returns just 124,000 (one hundred and twenty five thousand) hits, or 0.093% of the hits of leadership which is indicative of the level of attention it receives. A few blogs ago I wrote about leadership and management being part of a system where the leaders and managers need to fit and work together as part of that system, with each understanding their role and responsibilities. The concept of followership goes further, unfortunately the phrase 'followership' conjures up some misleading and largely passive connotations.
Over the next few blogs I will unpack some of the academic literature and research and look at how it appertains to the real operational world in business and services. I will also lay out an argument as to why the term followership does not help and what can more productively take it's place and enhance both the organisation/business/service and ameliorate an individuals experience of working in part of a system.

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