Leadership & Creative Followership

This is not the best time to be a leader in politics in America. As I write this post, my news feed has been blowing up with arguments from all sides as to whether or not President Trump should be impeached. Last month in my city there was a major shake up when one of the major hospital systems declared they were completely shutting down their operations if a new buyer for the hospital could not be found. This news caused quite a panic. It’s frustrating to watch good businesses provide quality service under bad leadership.

I am by no means a leadership expert. I am aware that by virtue of being a pastor I carry with me a certain amount of authority and responsibility, but I try to approach life and ministry from the posture of a learner - from the posture of a servant leader. With all the podcasts, webinars, seminars, books, articles, and opportunities that are geared toward leadership development, is there anything left to learn?

James Hunter notes in his book, The World's Most Powerful Leadership Principle, says there are well over 280,000 leadership and management titles listed on Amazon! Leadership courses generate over $15 billion in annual revenues from companies sending their employees for training and development. And yet, as Hunter notes Gallup studies show that more than two-thirds of people who leave their jobs resign because of an incompetent manager. In other words, people quit not because they hate the place they work. No, they quit because they hate their boss.

And therein lies the tension. Billions of dollars are wasted on ineffective leadership development.

Leadership expert (and a genuine servant leader if I’ve ever seen one), Dr. John Maxwell in his book, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, states, “Everything rises and falls on leadership, but knowing how to lead is only half the battle.” I find it hard to disagree this statement especially coming from a man whose books and seminars are changing leadership culture around the world. Maxwell goes on to say there’s a significant difference between knowing how to lead and actually leading. Now, let’s stop for a moment and just focus on the initial statement: Everything rises and falls on leadership.

Read it again…carefully, slowly. Everything. Rises. And. Falls. On. Leadership.

The more I think about this statement and I’ve been thinking about this for a couple years now (and I’ve heard it plenty of times in plenty of places), the more I’m inclined to believe that it’s only half true. It’s half true, not because what Dr. Maxwell is saying, but it’s half true because of what’s missing from that statement. It seems to me the axiom: Everything rises and falls on leadership is incomplete. It’s incomplete because leaders must have followers. The flip side of the leadership coin is followership.

No followers; no leaders.

What is followership? What is it not? What are the essential characteristics of a creative follower? How do I grow as a creative follower? What does Scripture have to say on this topic? These are some of the questions we’ll explore in the weeks to come.

Followership is a relatively new field of exploration within the leadership arena that has largely been unexplored and untapped. I’d like to continue this conversation by developing a series of blog posts exploring the concept of followership because I believe everything rises and falls on leadership and followership.