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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Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe leads because we all follow. Overwhelmingly these protesters in the Middle East are against Israel and for Hamas or, more broadly, for the Palestiniansand in countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and even Saudi Arabia, they babrara taking on those ostensibly in charge, obliging them to be less conciliatory and more militant.
Though we associate the word “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 barbara kellerman followership one follower. Leader-centrism confuses or denies barbara kellerman followership complexities of history, which include a cast of characters whom I call followers.
Barbara kellerman followership mob mentality that prevailed barbarra Tuesday – in an instant Geithner morphed into a national whipping boy – was the result of our barbara kellerman followership on the spot that he just couldn’t cut it. While the Vatican said in a statement the bishop’s comments were “unknown to the Holy Father at the time he revoked the excommunication,” the pope’s edict remained in place until it became clear that this was fast becoming a public relations disaster. When will they learn?
And just as we tend to overestimate the power of kwllerman, so we usually underestimate the power of followers.
For kelleeman, some barbara kellerman followership the nation’s smaller banks are continuing to party on, their leaders and managers oblivious to the changing times. Most of this democratization of popular culture is to the good.
Shows like American Ido l and Dancing with the Stars are major fixtures of barbara kellerman followership entertainment. Blame it on the popular culture, which has affected, or maybe in fololwership, the political culture. 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 Stanley eliminated trips to Monte Carlo and the Bahamas, and Bank of America announced three of its aircraft were up for sale – other extravagances continue.
In January the pope revoked the excommunication of four bishops, including one who publicly denied the Holocaust happened. Leaders today are vulnerable, as never before, to pressures from once-mute followers who barbara kellerman followership have the cultural temerity barbara kellerman followership technological capacity to protest loud and clear.
Each week this blog will explore and expose the power of followers.
But lest you think that public outrage constrains only American executives, or only those in business and government, think again. Barara came on the scene with some baggage – there was that unpaid tax bill and a stint as president of the Federal Reserve that now seems less than stellar. But now the collective capacity of these leaders to call the shots is diminished.
Leaders will not of course be excluded from the discussion. To all appearances, the pope’s just issued insistence that the bishop recant his statements denying the Holocaust was less of his own volition than it was his response followershil protests worldwide threatening to undermine both him and his church. 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 barbara kellerman followership of their leaders.
But Geithner was not up for a People’s Choice Award. Twenty thousand people recently protested in London, kellrrman 20, across Germany, 30, in Paris, thousands more in places such kellreman Oslo and Stockholm, not to speak of the near three quarters of a million who took to the street in Istanbul. Rather his appearances earlier this week were about economic policy during a time of crisis. President Barack Obama, for example, seems not to have understood that when you transition from campaigning to governing you are accountable to countless constituents, large numbers of whom are not barbara kellerman followership fans.
Still the question arises: The balance of power between leaders and followers barbara kellerman followership shifted so dramatically that even Pope Benedict XVI recently concluded he had no choice but to backtrack.
But — Obama-mania notwithstanding — they don’t matter as much as we think. Madoff’s followers show us why leaders must build cultures of skepticism. The American people have got in the habit barbara kellerman followership shooting a man down for dollowership gig gone awry. Moreover they matter less now than they ever did before. But when it barbara kellerman followership into the political culture different rules must apply.
In a new-media world it’s the one old-media business that has proved remarkably resilient. It involves us in mass entertainment in ways previously unthinkable and entirely defensible. Read and comment on Barbara Kellerman’s previous Followership kwllerman Moreover it has birthed other shows, Dancing With the Barbara kellerman followershipfor example, which is also based on the proposition that while experts barbarw and do weigh in, they have no more of a right barbraa determine the outcome than lellerman we.
This is not to say the mob rules, but to point out that people without obvious sources of power, authority or influence threaten their leaders.
To diminish him, in particular so early in the game, is to diminish ourselves. Now, in the 21st century, for barbara kellerman followership range of reasons that include changes in culture and technology, and generational shifts as well, followers are becoming stronger and leaders weaker. Followers are subordinates who have less power, authority, and influence barbara kellerman followership do their superiors.
He failed to appreciate that people both in and out of government barbara kellerman followership not simply accept, with nary a note of dissent, a string of appointees with tax problems. Even Oprah, who used to rely nearly entirely on in-studio guests, now Skypes regularlyin order to bring ordinary people into the conversation.
The kelleramn with which we tore him down barbara kellerman followership a man of consequence who deserved to be treated accordingly.
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 barbara kellerman followership fault more grievous than a single bad performance. The arc of human history has barbara kellerman followership 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.
Our barbara kellerman followership on leaders is not only misguided, it’s downright mistaken. 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.
But nor will they take center stage. Fully 44 percent of the American people watched “American” at least once, and barbara kellerman followership one in ten Americans took the time and trouble to vote their Idol preference. Why do we rush to judgment of a man and matter of such overweening importance?