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Review “Chapter 25: In Praise of Followership,” located in the study materials. What is the role of followership in supporting servant leaders? Strengthen your claims with supporting citations.
Margie and I have been married more than fifty-five years. She is my mentor, my first love, and an unbelievable servant leader. We started our company together and I was smart enough to agree that she should be president. Nearly twenty years ago she stepped down from the presidency to create and lead a think tank we call Office of the Future, whose purpose is to ensure we are not surprised by new innovations or technology that come along. I think you’ll find her essay on followership unique, considering this is a book about leadership—but it’s so applicable in today’s workplace. —KB
Did you ever think about the difference between the words leader and leadership? The leader is just one person, whereas leadership assumes both the person and their followers. In our world, we focus a lot of attention on the leader. That’s who we want to be when we grow up. But the follower is the one who often does all the work. In fact, we spend much more of our time as followers in this world of work than as leaders—an estimated 90 percent of our time. If that’s true, followership may be more important than leadership—particularly if the follower is a servant leader.”A follower as a servant leader?” you might respond. “Yes,” I would insist. A lot of managers we know would respond in the same skeptical way. In that regard, Ken and I teach a servant leadership course as part of a Master’s of Science in Executive Leadership (MSEL) program we cofounded with the dean of the College of Business at the University of San Diego.Prior to our weekend class, we ask the students to read Insights on Leadership, a book of essays on service, stewardship, spirit, and servant leadership edited by Larry C. Spears. (Larry is the author of “Characteristics of Servant Leaders” in Part 1 of this book.) At the beginning of class, we divide the students into small groups and ask them to share with each other what they learned from the readings and what it means to them. We have them focus on five of the essays that we preassigned. Year after year, the essay that catches the students’ attention the most is “Followership in a Leadership World” by Robert E. Kelley. Why? People don’t think a follower can be an effective servant leader. Kelley suggests followership is often overlooked because most recognition and rewards go to leaders.Kelley helped me think of all the times as a leader that I have been grateful for followers who do two things. One, they challenge my ideas and implementation style and help me get clarity on what I really want to happen and how to best execute it. Two, when I have a good idea, they are ready to help me implement it by beginning to problem solve some of the challenges my idea or initiative would likely face. The first involves managing up the hierarchy as a servant follower. The second is all about serving as a direct report.Larry C. Spears, Insights on Leadership: Service, Stewardship, Spirit, and Servant-Leadership (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1997).
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