Following With Courage …

Followers and Leaders - Chaleff - Morguefile

When I first studied leadership seriously, I learned about three primary elements: Those who lead, those who follow, and the situation or environment where both occur.

Sounds about right … However, as I have continued my focus on leadership and related topics, I have noticed something.


The art of leading has been “amply” researched and discussed , especially over the past few decades.  A visit to any online or on-ground bookstore or a quick Google search of the term “Leadership” will support this.


Leadership in specific environments, such as the military, nursing, and higher education all enjoy healthy attention, as does the more general reflection on leadership in political, corporate, non-profit, and global environments.


Followers are often dismissed with some general comments about listening to those who When it comes to the art and power dynamics that exist between the two important roles of leader and follower, we are just now seeing some serious focus on the role of the follower.  

One of the more interesting writers in that regard is Ira Chaleff, who has written several books, most notably Intelligent Disobedience: Doing Right When What You’re Told To Do Is Wrong (2015), The Courageous Follower: Standing Up To & For Our Leaders (3rd edition 2009), and an earlier book, The Art of Followership (2008, co-authored with Ronald Riggio).

Followership is sometimes mentioned in leadership writing, but often simply as either a respected role. supporting element, or a useful resource.   Chaleff takes a different tack, as he regards the follower as an essential ingredient with an important role to play in effective leadership.

Chaleff goes far beyond the inane statement I have often seen in one form or another: “Leaders have to have followers, so they have someone to lead.” The leading quotation above from The Courageous Follower spurs several thoughts in my mind:

What factors combine to create such a focus on only Leaders?

How does a good follower keep a balance between loyalty and support on the one hand, and honesty and courage on the other?

How can leaders who desire to be more effective change to more effectively interact with their followers?

As you might guess, Chaleff addresses these and other issues in his writing, which is articulate, thoughtful, and clear.

ANother current theme in leadership circles is the idea of the servant leader.   It seems to me that these two ideas naturally compliment each other.  

Imagine a team where the leaders serve and the followers are courageous … What evil could prevail against such a combination?

I cannot think of a more timely or valuable focus for us, especially as we slog through yet another presidential campaign, while absorbing continuing leadership failures in both the public and private sectors.

If this discussion interests you, plan now to attend Weaving Influence’s free online seminar with Ira Chaleff  on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 11 AM CT. 

Hoping to see you at the seminar next Tuesday in the Heartland ….