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Followership Essay

Followership Essay:
My Followership Experience
Karsten Olson
Southeastern University

Followership Essay
Karsten Olson
2014
MNGT 4143

2
November 23,

Assignment: Write a 1500-word paper that describes your followership.


Discuss your strengths, informed thoughts on followership, and each
reading or video in the course listed below. See sources. Include
examples from managerial positions, sports teams or clubs with which
you have been involved, church ministries, or other areas. Include a
biblical perspective on followership (Scripture passage) that relates to
your followership. Cite each source with page numbers or video time
hacks whether you are quoting or paraphrasing. That way I can find
exactly what you are discussing. Use America Psychological
Association (APA) citations both in-text and in the Reference list.
Followership Essay:
My Followership Experience
Just as leadership has a certain group of qualities that comprise
what it is to be a leader, followers have similar categories. The follower
styles are listed as follows: Implementer, Resource, Partner, and
Individualist. An implementer is the follower who is all in. They are
considerate supportive, team oriented, compliant, and respectful of
authority. They are the image that comes to most people head when
they think of a good follower. Resource is an extra follower. When
reading about these, I compared them to mercenaries in my mind.
They may specialize in a craft, but they are just extra hands, they dont
look to be loyal. Partners are purpose driven. They are in line with their
leader, and are often times very good leaders themselves. They are
mission oriented and focus on strength and growth. Finally, the
individualist is the forthright, self-assured, independent thinker who is
unintimidated by authority and often rebellious. While these sound
much more difficult to deal with, there is a place for the individualist as

Followership Essay

well. One of the best lessons I learned about followership from my


studies is presented as follows,
It is the ability to take direction well, to get in line behind a
program, to be part of a team and to deliver on what is expected
of you. It gets a bit of a bad rap! How well the followers follow is
probably just as important to enterprise success as how well the
leaders lead. (McCallum, 2013)
In this paper I will dig deeper into my own followership theory,
how Ive followed in the past, and how I hope to follow in the future.
As I get ready to teach, I often think about how I will be a good
leader. In reality, even though I will have dozens of students following
me, I will still be a follower of my principles, other school district
officials, and the values of the Teach for America Corps. If I am to
encourage, believe in, and help every child succeed, I need to be a
truly courageous follower of Teach for Americas core values. Chaleff
writes,
When a common purpose guides both the leader and the
follower, control shifts from the leaders to the purpose itself, we
dont need or require permission to act in ways that forward the
purpose. (2009, p. 49)
Even though I will be a subordinate to many, I will need to take
initiative in my classroom to make sure that both Teach for America
and my goals are being met. Often times, that will mean taking

Followership Essay

initiative and not waiting for a specific command. The reason I am able
to take initiative, is because the organization I work for doesnt just tell
me what to do, they inspire action. Simon Sinek has this to say on
inspiring action, If you talk about what you believe then you will
attract those who believe what you believePeople dont buy what you
do they buy why you do it (Sinek, 11:11). Or in the context of
followership, People dont follow what you do, they follow why you do
it. I follow Teach for America, NBC basketball camps, and
Southeastern University because of what they believe what they stand
for, and why they stand for it.
Before I attended Southeastern University, I played basketball for
Pacific Lutheran University. Despite its Christian name, there was
nothing Christian about the university or its athletics. On the basketball
team there, I was exposed to a group of players who cared much more
about how many beers they could drink than how many points they
could score. To my shame, I eventually fell to the same loathsome
habits. The reason, is because I fell into groupthink. I stopped
challenging the thoughts and decisions of my team captains and the
rest of my team, and just joined in. Chaleff writes the following about
groupthink,
Groupthink causes self-censorship. We do not permit ourselves to
acknowledge our own divergent thoughts. We relinquish
responsibility for our unique perspectives, which is a terrible

Followership Essay

error. If other member s of the group accept the organizational


status quo, we invalidate our own comfort with it, even if the
status quo dramatically departs from our ideals (Chaleff, 2009, p.
97).
A Bible verse that comes to mind when addressing issues like
these is Romans 12:2, Do not conform to this world but be
transformed by the renewing or your mind. If we are to avoid
groupthink, and maintain our own independent, and important beliefs
we must continually renew our mind for the sake of perspective and
clear thought. Eventually I reached this place, and made the decision
to leave PLU and my bad habits behind, and go to SEU.
Once at SEU, I had an opportunity for a fresh start. At PLU I was
loud, obnoxious, and very extroverted. Now at SEU, I am still
extroverted, and probably a little obnoxious, but more often than
before I seek time alone. I get to work on some of my introverted skills.
Susan Cain made incredible points about the power of the introvert.
Cains main points almost directly contradicted my previous beliefs.
Here are her main points as recorded in my own notes,
1. Stop the madness for constant group work
a. Exchange of ideas is good
b. More privacy to teach people/students how to work on their
own
i. This is important for extroverts too

Followership Essay

2. Go to the wilderness
a. Lets unplug and get inside our own heads
3. Take a good look at whats inside your own suitcase
(Cain, 16:48)
When Cain refers to your own suitcase she is talking about the
gifts or abilities people carry with them everywhere they go. I am
extroverted, but as a follower I think that a more introverted would be
more effective. If looked to conquer problems on my own more often,
and unplug and get inside my own head I would be able to think
more clearly on how to follow more effectively.
I hope to be the follower, specifically teacher, someday that truly
partners with what I believe in. Chaleff calls the best kind of follower a
partner defined as follows,
These types of followers take full responsibility for their own as
well as the leader's behaviors and act accordingly. They give
their whole heart to the corporate vision and the initiatives of the
leader, but are open and honest enough to speak up when
something doesn't mesh with the best interests of the
organization. (Coggins, 2013)
If everyone is bought into these ideas then a team, a leader, and
their followers could accomplish anything. Jim Collins addressed this
issue in his book Good to Great, when he wrote about getting the
right people on the bus. Collins meant that without the right personal,

Followership Essay

the right followers nothing could ever be done at a top level. The
examination of followership then becomes ones ability to become the
right person for the bus. McCallums article lists judgment, work ethic,
competence, honesty, courage, discretion, loyalty, and ego
management as the eight traits a great follower possesses. Its
interesting that so many of these are seen not just in this article, but
also books and literature on leadership.
With so many similar qualities, I believe that a great leader
should in theory, be an even better follower, and a follower who posses
all of these characteristics, should be able to understand leadership.
Charisma and outward appearances get too much credit, if the base
knowledge, combined with these eight characteristics are present then
a follower is just as capable of leading. Based in these traits, I also
believe it would benefit someone looking to lead, to first examine their
own ability to follow. Surely, someone who cant follow cant lead, and
based on these traits, following is no walk in the park. Followership is
the foundation of leadership.
Moving forward, I hope to be the best follower possible. Followers
make things happen, therefore followers are essential. Followers
become leaders, therefore the importance of followership should be
emphasized more and more often in my own life, as my studies and
work continue. We all need to change our paradigm about the
importance of followership. Abram Lincoln once said,

Followership Essay

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy


present the occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise
with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew
and act anew, we must disenthrall ourselves and then we shall
save our country. (Robinson & Lincoln, 6:30)

References

Followership Essay

Cain S. (2012, February). Susan Cain: The power of introverts [Video


File]. Retrieved
from
http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts
Chaleff, Ira. (2009). The courageous follower: standing up to & for our
leaders. San
Fransisco: Berrett-Koehler.
Coggins, E. (2013). 3 Top Models of Courageous Followership. Retrieved
from
http://ecoggins.hubpages.com/hub/Leadership-in-the-21stCentury-Theories-of-Courageous-Followership.
McCallum, John S. (September/October 2013) Followership: the other
side of
leadership. Retreived from:
http://iveybusinessjournal.com/topics/leadership/followershipthe-other-side-of-leadership#.VHKTKoekLG4
Rath, T. & Conchie, B. (2008). Strengths based leadership: Great
leaders, teams, and
why people follow. New York: Gallup Press.
Robinson, K. (2010, February). Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning
revolution!

Followership Essay

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[Video File]. Retrieved from


http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revoluti
on#t-413135
Sinek, S. (2009, September). Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire
action [Video
File]. Retrieved from
http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire
_action