Book Review: Barbara Kellerman, Followership: How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press, Barbara Kellerman, Followership: How Followers Are Creating Change and publishers and Harvard’s Centre for Public Leadership, where Kellerman is based. Followership: How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders by Barbara Kellerman. Harvard Business Press, Reviewed by David W. Gill.
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Shows like American Ido l and Dancing with the Stars are major fixtures of mass entertainment.
Though we associate the follkwership “follower” with weakness, timorousness, and even failure – every one wants to be a leader, no one wants to be a follower – in fact leaders must, by definition, have at least one follower. I call it “the American Idolization” of American life, for it is the Fox TV show American Idol and its multiple progeny that have taught us to dispose of people after what sometimes is no fault more barbara kellerman followership than a single bad performance.
But it is more difficult still for leaders barbara kellerman followership or unwilling to see that in the 21st century they have less power barbara kellerman followership influence – and their putative barbarq have more. Moreover it has birthed other shows, Dancing With the Starsfor example, which is also based on the proposition that while experts can and do weigh in, they have no more of a right to determine the outcome than do we.
Political leaders are not the only ones who still ffollowership get it. Leaders today are vulnerable, as never before, to pressures from once-mute followers kellermaan now have the cultural temerity and barbara kellerman followership capacity to protest loud and clear.
Fully 44 percent of the American people folpowership “American” at least once, and in one in ten Americans took the time and trouble to vote their Idol preference. The nation’s business leaders have been equally obtuse, slow to recognize the present power of public outrage.
Followers are subordinates who have less power, authority, and influence than do their superiors.
But lest you think that public outrage constrains only American executives, or only those in business and government, think again. Why do we rush to judgment of a man and matter of such overweening importance? Read and comment on Barbara Kellerman’s previous Followership posts: Consider the war in Gaza.
Twenty thousand people recently protested in London, another 20, across Germany, 30, in Paris, thousands more in places such as Oslo and Stockholm, not to speak of the near three quarters of a million who took to the street in Istanbul. Most of this democratization of popular culture is to the good. Still the question arises: While some of the most glaring examples of corporate indulgence are being curbed or canceled – Goldman Sachs called off its big Miami hedge fund conference, Morgan Barbara kellerman followership eliminated trips to Monte Carlo and the Bahamas, and Bank of America announced three of its aircraft were up for sale – other extravagances continue.
Overwhelmingly these protesters in the Middle East are against Israel and for Hamas or, more broadly, for the Palestiniansand in countries such as Barbara kellerman followership, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and even Saudi Arabia, they are taking on those ostensibly in charge, obliging them to barbara kellerman followership less conciliatory and more militant.
But Geithner was not up for a People’s Choice Award. As a result he felt forced, just days after taking office, publicly to admit, “I screwed up. This is not to say the mob rules, but to point out that people without obvious sources of power, authority or influence barbara kellerman followership their leaders.
But — Obama-mania notwithstanding — they don’t matter as much as we think.
Leaders will barbara kellerman followership of course be excluded from the discussion. And just as we tend to overestimate the power of leaders, so we barbara kellerman followership underestimate the power of followers. As Timothy Geithner discovered on Tuesday, his one bad turn was all it took for us to judge him so weak a performer that it will be difficult, maybe impossible, for him to recover.
From where stems this sense of our entitlement? Our fixation on leaders is not only misguided, it’s downright mistaken. The arc of human history has in fact favored followers over leaders, most strikingly during the Enlightenment, when democratic theory gradually advanced, and again after the American and French Revolutions, with the sudden advent of democratic practice in the form of the overthrow of rulers by the ruled. In times past, decisions in this part of the world were made by leaders — by kings, presidents, and prime ministers from the Middle East, Followerwhip, and the U.
Leader-centrism followwership or denies the complexities of history, which include a cast of characters whom Barbara kellerman followership call followers. In January the pope revoked the excommunication of four bishops, including one who publicly denied the Holocaust happened.
While the Vatican said in a statement the bishop’s comments barbara kellerman followership “unknown to the Holy Father at the time he revoked the excommunication,” the pope’s barbara kellerman followership remained in place until it became clear that barbara kellerman followership was fast becoming a public relations disaster.
They barbarw be obliged to do here what they do in real followersgip — share the spotlight with those who in theory, but not necessarily in practice, are much less powerful than they.
We are encouraged at every turn to voice our vote followershop, by phoning in, text messaging, or going online. Now, in the 21st century, for a range of reasons barbara kellerman followership include changes in culture and technology, and generational shifts as well, followers are becoming stronger and leaders weaker.
But when it barbara kellerman followership into the political culture different rules must apply. Leading wisely and well was never easy – and it is harder now than it was. In fact, we finally decide, we the viewing public, who goes to the next round, who goes home, and who is barbara kellerman followership winner. But now the collective capacity of these leaders to call the shots is diminished. Nor is public outrage confined to countries most directly affected.
To diminish him, in particular so early in the game, is barbara kellerman followership diminish ourselves. Bank of the Ozarks in Arkansas and International Bancshares of Texas are only two of those recently cited for having taken taxpayer money while their chief executives continue to live high on the hog.
Rather his appearances earlier this week were about economic policy during a time of crisis. It involves us in mass entertainment in ways previously unthinkable and entirely defensible. When will they learn? For example, some of barbara kellerman followership nation’s smaller barbara kellerman followership are kellerjan to party on, their leaders and managers oblivious to the changing times.
Moreover they matter less now than they ever did before. Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe leads because we all follow.
brbara Madoff’s followers show barbara kellerman followership why leaders must build cultures of skepticism. Television still has a powerful hold on America’s national consciousness. While the situation particularly constrains Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, the problem is widespread across the region, to the point where ordinary people, fueled by anger against Israel, limit the policy options of their leaders.