Posts Tagged ‘followership’

Walking in the footsteps of others

Monday, June 6th, 2016


footpathI recently spent an amazing week in the Lake District.  I wanted to explore some of the higher hills that I hadn’t visited before.  Technically they qualify as mountains, (and certainly felt that way!) but that term feels odd to apply to our English landscape.  I walk regularly, and certainly take sensible precautions, but these hills can be dangerous, especially to the inexperienced.  The thing about challenging yourself is that you can’t do it by doing things that you know you can do.  That makes this kind of venture intrinsically scary.  There are a number of challenges such as could I physically cope with it and could I find my way.  These routes mean you are slogging uphill for two to three hours and then, faced with an equally challenging descent.  A 7 mile walk can easily take 5 hours. 

One thing you can’t help noticing in the Lakes is how the landscape is scarred by people’s passage.  However, there are are also places which are totally unmarked and they make you very aware that you can very easily get lost.  These days people seem obsessed by doing their own thing and being original but actually there is an awful lot to be said for following in the footsteps of others.  When I saw these paths I knew that they worked; I didn’t know if they were easy, but I knew if I followed them I would get down.  Isaac Newton referred to “Standing on the shoulders of giants” as a positive that comes from following what others have done.  I have spent my life challenging the status quo and just repeating what others have done, but there are times, and fell walking is one of them, where you can appreciate why this can be a very smart option.

Leadership and Followership.

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

A client was having problems and the leader was finding it difficult if not impossible to get things done.  He had a relatively clear agenda and one that should make the business more profitable.  However, the very people who stood to benefit from this were somehow just not committing to it.  Why you might ask?  It turns out that not only was there a lack of effective leadership, but there was no culture of followership.  This meant that in effect there was no emotional contract to support him.  It is one thing having a label on your door, but if you want clever people to pay any attention you have to win them over, if you don’t have the muscle to force them.  This requires a number of personal skills such as building rapport, listening and communicating in the way that the listener requires in order to ‘get’ what you are trying to sell.  You need to make a case for Change, which means taking the time to explain (not just tell) them how they too will benefit from the process. 

You don’t necessarily have to do this with everyone, but you certainly have to with those you deem to be the key players, and you need to win over enough to create the momentum to get started.