Leadership and Followship

Recently I came across a couple of really good articles on leadership:

  • Leadership in Church:
    • http://www.healthychurch.org/doorpost/enews-december-2011
    • Oh, those are sticky wickets to address but every single one of them is a potential minefield for both the church and its leaders. And, minefields don’t go away. A study of minefields (the ones used in wars) show that mines become more unstable over time and the least little pebble can set them off. This is also true of church life – any event can set off a long-dormant mine. Dig up the mines (carefully); confront the elephants in the church (carefully) – they won’t go away on their own but need to be led/taken gently out of harm’s way.
  • Leadership in Sports:
    • http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/in-sports-theres-no-faking-leadership/2011/11/30/gIQAnoksGO_story.html
    • Actually, the “cover story” is about sports but the article cites some research on what followers want: “According to Hogan’s research, followers want four things: integrity, confidence, decision-making and clarity. But just as important is what followers don’t want: irritability, moodiness, untrustworthiness, indec­i­sive­­­ness, needless micro-management and excessive authority. They perceive these things as incompetent, and pretty soon the leveling mechanism kicks in and there is a subtle rebellion.” Those are very powerful words for leaders to remember – all the time.

I also saw a short (less than one minute video) with the former CEO of Xerox. She turned the company around from death’s door to being financially successful. When asked about leadership, her answer was that leadership was dependent on followship – how those who actually do all the work see you and follow you.

Years ago I heard that one of the problems of leadership is that sometimes people are following you and sometimes they are chasing you. Obviously, followers are much better than chasers but sometimes you need both to keep you on your toes.

Don’t run away from the chasers, turn and ask them point-blank (in a nice way) what they want to follow. You may be surprised by how reasonable their answers are. And you will certainly take the wind out of their angry sails. Make the chasers your followers; make the followers your disciples; make your disciples your new leaders; make the new leaders your successors.

Lead On!