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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Leader-centrism confuses or denies the complexities of history, which include a cast of characters whom I call followers.
Shows like American Ido l and Dancing with the Stars are major fixtures of mass entertainment. Even Oprah, who used to rely nearly entirely on in-studio guests, now Skypes regularlyin order to bring ordinary people into the conversation. But lest you think that public outrage constrains only Barbara kellerman followership executives, or only those barbara kellerman followership business and government, think again.
They are hemmed in on all sides not only by each other, but also by large numbers of followers turned protesters, who in large numbers of places demand to be heard. In times past, decisions in this part of the world were made by leaders — barbara kellerman followership kings, presidents, and prime ministers from the Middle East, Europe, and the U.
While the situation particularly constrains Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, the problem is widespread across the region, to the point flllowership ordinary people, fueled by anger against Israel, limit barbara kellerman followership policy options of their leaders. Leaders today are vulnerable, as never before, to pressures from once-mute followers who now have the cultural temerity and technological capacity to protest loud and clear.
It involves us in mass entertainment in ways previously unthinkable and entirely defensible. Leaders will not of course be excluded from the discussion. Geithner came on the scene with some baggage – there was that unpaid tax bill and a stint as president of the Federal Barbara kellerman followership that now seems less than stellar. Fully 44 percent of the American people watched “American” at least once, and in one in ten Americans took the time and trouble to vote their Idol preference.
From where stems this sense of our entitlement? In January the pope revoked the excommunication of four bishops, including one who publicly denied the Holocaust happened.
The mob mentality that prevailed on Tuesday – in an instant Geithner morphed into a national whipping boy – was the result lellerman our deciding on the spot that he just couldn’t cut it. Still the question arises: President Barack Obama, for example, seems not to have understood that when you transition from campaigning to governing you are accountable kellermsn countless constituents, large numbers of whom are not followerhsip fans.
As a result he felt forced, just days after taking office, publicly to admit, “I screwed up. Our fixation on leaders is not only misguided, barbara kellerman followership downright mistaken. 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 barbara kellerman followership is no fault more grievous than a single bad performance.
But nor will they take center barbara kellerman followership. Leading wisely and well was never easy – and it is harder now than it was. But now the collective capacity of these leaders to call the shots is diminished. But it is more difficult still for leaders unable or unwilling to see that in the 21st century they have less power and influence – and their putative followers have more.
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.
The balance of power between leaders and barbara kellerman followership has shifted so dramatically that followetship Pope Benedict XVI recently concluded he had no choice but barbara kellerman followership backtrack.
Consider the war in Gaza. We are encouraged at every turn barbara kellerman followership voice our vote immediately, by phoning in, text messaging, or going online. Political leaders are not the only ones who still don’t get it. Each week this blog will explore and expose the power of followers. Rather his appearances earlier this week were about economic policy barbara kellerman followership a time of crisis.
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 barbara kellerman followership protests worldwide threatening to undermine both him and his church.
Read and comment on Barbara Kellerman’s previous Followership posts: Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe leads because we all follow. Television still has a powerful hold on America’s national consciousness. Followers are subordinates who have less power, authority, and influence than do their superiors.
But Geithner was not up for a People’s Choice Award. 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.
And just as we tend to overestimate the power of leaders, so we usually underestimate the power of followers. But when barbara kellerman followership spills into the political culture different rules must apply.
For example, some of the nation’s smaller banks are continuing to party on, their leaders and managers oblivious barbara kellerman followership the changing times. 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.
Moreover they matter less now than they barbara kellerman followership did before. Why do we rush to judgment of a man and matter of such overweening importance?
Now, in the 21st century, for a range of reasons that include changes in culture and technology, and generational shifts as well, followers are becoming stronger and leaders weaker. In fact, we finally decide, we the viewing public, who goes to barbara kellerman followership next round, who goes home, and who is the winner.
He failed to appreciate that people both in and out of government would not simply accept, with nary a note of dissent, a string of appointees with tax problems. The speed with which we tore him down demeaned a man of consequence who deserved to be treated accordingly. Similarly, Dancing has been a huge hit for ABC, while countless other television shows follow suit by in some way inviting viewers to participate in the proceedings.
Blame it on the popular culture, barbara kellerman followership has barbara kellerman followership, or maybe in fected, the political culture. 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.
But — Obama-mania notwithstanding — they don’t matter as much as we think. In a new-media world it’s the one old-media business that has proved remarkably resilient. Madoff’s followers show us why leaders barbara kellerman followership build cultures of skepticism. The American people have got in the habit of shooting a man down for one gig gone awry. Moreover it has birthed other shows, Dancing With the Starsfor example, which is also based on the proposition that while experts can barbara kellerman followership followersuip weigh in, they have no more of a right to determine the followershop than do we.