How Followers are Creating Change and Changing Leaders
Barbara Kellerman author of Followership begins her book with the mind pondering quote above. Followership looks into the depths of the leader-centric approach that has dominated our thinking about leadership and management today. From the gathering of followers we learn about their views and how they relate to their leaders and to each other. Kellerman gathers evidence that to support her idea that focusing on superiors at the expense of their subordinates is to distort the dynamic that is between them. Kellerman goes on to show through real life stories and descriptions of five different types of followers: Isolates, Bystanders, Participants, Activists, and Diehards. This paper is the study of her work and the understanding of these groups of people ranging from withdrawn individuals to fully committed and engaged.
Table of Contents
Examinations of Followership
~Young Alexander conquered India.
Caesar beat the Gaul’s.
Was there not even a cook in his army?
Philip of Spain wept at his fleet
Was sunk and destroyed. Were there no other tears?
Barbara Kellerman’s book is a refreshing look into the dynamics of the leader-follower relationship. It comes to light that the follower is just as important as the leader. It appears that Kellerman’s motivation for the book is to better understand the role that followers play and to lay a foundation for her study. We today seem to put all of our focus on leaders and how they can better lead their teams and make their “team” more productive. Kellerman looks into the examination of misconception of followership, how and why people follow their leaders, and the impact that followership has on organizational culture. “It deliberately departs from the leader centric approach that dominates our thinking about how power, authority, and influence are exercised. It claims that to obsess about superiors at the expense of subordinates is to distort the dynamic between them” (Kellerman, 2008). She explains that the message can be sent to others that they can underestimate the importance of those who work “beneath them.” Kellerman uses the simple example of how much influence is put on leadership by challenging the reader to do a web search and look up followership or following and looking up leadership. Her she highlights how much important is put upon leadership and she explains that even the word followership is suspect. I can understand this due to the simple thought of someone calling another a follower. The statement implies a negative undermining. Kellerman states her claim that followers are just as important as leaders and followers have the power to create change and change leaders. The entry at the top of the page is a quote from the opening pages of Followership. These words show that the outlook should be more a group of roles. The roles of every member create a team and that no one person should be overlooked because together they all completed and conquered together. No one man does it all in most cases and what makes one man better than a man with lesser authority? The word follower is greatly disliked in our country. The book shows that John Gardner chose the word constituent rather than follower to use as it does not sound so disrespectful. Why Follow?
Freud was the first to provide psychological examples of why followers follow leaders. His interest in power relationships between parents and children and doctors and to patients, he was extremely interested in leaders and followers. In Freud’s last day he studied and used biblical references to probe his most intriguing questions, “Why do people follow leaders? What’s in it for them?”...
References: Kellerman, B. (2008). Followership. Boston: Harvard Business Press.
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