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Archive: Followership

Authority does not equal leadership

Ultimately, the authority to lead comes from those who choose to follow. When there is a loss of trust...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | February 1, 2011; 03:25 PM ET | Comments (6)

Mutual understanding

Now, with sudden prosperity, Chinese leaders fear fragmentation and a demanding peasant population that has been left behind. Chinese leaders believe their continued authority depends on...

By Michael Maccoby | January 19, 2011; 10:38 AM ET | Comments (5)

Equal-opportunity pain delivery

We really do not want our politicians to exercise leadership. We want them to take care of us and deliver any pain that is necessary to someone else. That's why we have...

By Marty Linsky | December 1, 2010; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (3)

The federal budget as metaphor

Our values and beliefs are embedded in the numbers, and changing the balance sheet is about changing ourselves. Balancing the budget is not just a realistic reallocation of resources; it is a metaphor for our belief about the American character...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | December 1, 2010; 09:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

We need more government sacrifice

President Obama's move to freeze federal workers' pay and soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner's jettisoning of his private plane are wise moves, but they are mostly symbolic. Our leaders need to be willing to do more and cut our spending down to the point we are just about to hit bone...

By Robert Goodwin | December 1, 2010; 09:46 AM ET | Comments (6)

Using the presidential bully pulpit

People on the Right see big government and taxes as the main threat to liberty and prosperity. On the Left, people view cutting the federal budget as a threat to the needy. It is unlikely that the president can persuade either extreme to share a common purpose. But...

By Michael Maccoby | November 30, 2010; 11:47 AM ET | Comments (0)

Slash and smile, with a stiff upper lip

No need to invent a slash-and-smile playbook. There's one already working--in Britain. David Cameron and Nick Clegg, UK prime minister and deputy, provide a shining model of economic and political leadership. In economics they're slashing everything, from momentous entitlements to emotional health centers...

By Ken Adelman | November 30, 2010; 11:39 AM ET | Comments (0)

The next Congress provides the best opportunity

The American people are conflicted between a horror of mounting debt and deficits and their desire not to have their own benefits slashed, so neither party can be successful alone...

By Slade Gorton | November 30, 2010; 11:34 AM ET | Comments (0)

Leading a moral imperative

Shared sacrifice reinforces the moral imperative of any leadership proposition. And we have a word for men and women who put themselves and their ideas forward for the good of the organization, even when it may mean they have to give up something. We call them leaders...

By John Baldoni | November 30, 2010; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (0)

Americans are starved for fiscal truth

We can do it in an intelligent and phased-in manner before a crisis is at our doorstep; or else it will have to be done in a sudden, dramatic and possibly draconian manner in the face of a crisis. The choice is ours...

By David Walker | November 30, 2010; 11:22 AM ET | Comments (0)

Obama needs to go to the mat

It is important to stress, to repeat, that in the latter years of the Clinton administration, there was actually a budget surplus. If we could have a surplus a decade ago, there is no reason in principle that we can't have one some years from now...

By Howard Gardner | November 30, 2010; 11:15 AM ET | Comments (2)

Good leaders never give up? Nonsense

Forget the myth nurtured on the football field that leaders never give up. Nonsense. True leaders are smart enough to know when to stop bashing their heads against opposition stronger than themselves. Even smarter ones, and may I add more courageous ones, know that the bravest thing to do is to give up...

By John Baldoni | November 8, 2010; 06:02 PM ET | Comments (0)

What does it say about today's culture that we've idolized Don Draper?

Although Draper's inappropriate drinking, disregard for employees and sexually harassing behavior toward women would definitely get him fired in today's organizations, it is his unreflective steamroller approach to getting what he wants at any cost that would prove lethal to the organization as a whole. So why, if he is so ill suited for today's organizations, do we still find him so fascinating?

By Amy Fraher | October 19, 2010; 02:11 PM ET | Comments (10)

Matching 'outside game' to 'inside self'

Our culture still tends to equate extroversion with leadership and introversion with followership. The former is perceived as active (good), and the latter as passive (bad). Much too frequently, a quiet demeanor and reflective deliberation are not seen as leadership behaviors; while verbal, outgoing, decisive action is. I find it irresponsible to attempt to coerce someone who is being authentic into an acceptable, conventional role or societal stereotype of...

By Katherine Tyler Scott | October 6, 2010; 02:13 PM ET | Comments (0)

Leadership brand is more than a buzz word

A leader's brand radiates throughout the organization but it also carries to the outside. When the CEO is respected, it casts a halo of excellence around the organization. The prime example of this is Steve Jobs at Apple; his vision is Apple's mission. Similarly...

By John Baldoni | October 4, 2010; 10:55 PM ET | Comments (0)

When political realities trump good advice

The president should always have the courage to overrule his advisers when he believes them wrong; Lincoln is the great example. In this case, however, the president overruled his generals not because he disagreed with their military advice but because of political reality...

By Slade Gorton | September 27, 2010; 03:07 PM ET | Comments (0)

The pros and cons of decentralized leadership

Decentralized leadership approaches work well when an organization needs innovation and creative solutions from knowledgeable people who are familiar with the environment and know their role within the organization. The less hierarchical culture allows a free flow of ideas, yet people's experience and professionalism keep chaos from swamping the task.

By Amy Fraher | September 22, 2010; 12:36 PM ET | Comments (1)

Tea Party a call for leadership, not the result of it

This is a group devoid of strong leadership, rather than an example of distributed leadership. Many of the individuals who satellite around this movement are eagerly providing evening news sound bites that are focused on playing to the anxieties and fears resulting from an economy in turmoil, without any realistic platform for improving the lives of Americans.

By Alaina Love | September 22, 2010; 12:29 PM ET | Comments (1)

Hell bent on chasing them down

The best-laid plans of leaders are vulnerable as never before to followers with their own agendas and the determination and drive to get their way.

By Barbara Kellerman | April 9, 2010; 11:39 AM ET | Comments (6)

Undoing our conventional wisdom

Oppressed people overthrew bad leaders long before Twitter, but haven't done so a lot more since its advent.

By Ken Adelman | April 8, 2010; 12:35 PM ET | Comments (1)

More honest than ever

A population with the power of instant knowledge is a force to be heard and reckoned with.

By West Point Cadets | April 8, 2010; 11:51 AM ET | Comments (0)

Explosive but not spontaneous

By allowing people to invest in a common cause, leaders display their recognition of their follower's power and prevent the seeds of rage from sprouting.

By Coro Fellows | April 8, 2010; 07:24 AM ET | Comments (0)

Irony of opposition leaders

Opposition leaders come to power because they listen to their followers -- but too often, once they get into power, they become the un-listening autocrats they overthrew.

By Scott DeRue | April 8, 2010; 06:27 AM ET | Comments (1)

Divisive Issues

"Values" issues like torture are important, but they attract divisive grandstanding and receive an outsized portion of media attention, especially when compared to tough challenges like health care or the environment, where nuance and innovation are required.

By Patricia McGinnis | May 15, 2009; 10:44 AM ET | Comments (0)

Unsolicited Advice

Having served in a variety of leadership roles in the U.S. Navy and in higher education, it's always been my policy after stepping down to offer advice to my successors privately and only when they ask for it.

By John R. Ryan | May 14, 2009; 01:48 PM ET | Comments (0)

Bush Gets It

President Bush understood the meaning of the inauguration ceremony -- a handing over to power -- and what that means for criticizing the next president. Apparently, Vice President Cheney did not.

By Joanne B. Ciulla | May 13, 2009; 11:48 AM ET | Comments (4)

One-Year Moratorium

Cheney is not the first ex-president or ex-vice president to be a vocal critic, but it might be wise for such ex-leaders to wait a year after leaving office before going public with their views.

By Slade Gorton | May 12, 2009; 04:27 PM ET | Comments (10)

Unwelcome Ghost

Dick Cheney's conduct should be a reminder to leaders who've stepped down from office, whether in the public or private sector, that they owe their successor the decency of support, and if not support, then silence.

By Alan M. Webber | May 12, 2009; 02:40 PM ET | Comments (14)

Still Relevant

Dick Cheney continues to speak on public matters, like his predecessors Al Gore or Jimmy Carter. When one's term ends, that person's brain does not dissolve and one's experiences do not suddenly become irrelevant.

By Mickey Edwards | May 12, 2009; 12:19 PM ET | Comments (5)

Motivated by Real Concern

Evaluating Cheney's behavior of giving his opinion hinges upon one critical question: Whether Cheney's opinion is right or wrong.

By Ken Adelman | May 12, 2009; 12:15 PM ET | Comments (5)

Old Soldiers Never Die

In retirement military figures never really escape the obligation for restraint in their public commentary.

By Gen. Monty Meigs (Ret.) | May 12, 2009; 12:08 PM ET | Comments (2)

The Long Goodbye

The "rules of comity" in both the public and private sector dictate that ex-leaders keep criticism to themselves, but certain exceptions apply, and a question of national security might be one of them.

By Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr. | May 12, 2009; 11:56 AM ET | Comments (9)

Attacks, Not Advice

To criticize your successor in public is to deny him the opportunity to do his job as he sees fit. It also comes across as sour grapes.

By Yash Gupta | May 12, 2009; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (13)

Laundering Nixon

Richard Nixon made the transition from pariah to statesman, but it took time, patience, and a healthy absence and abstinence from the fray to launder himself.

By Marty Linsky | May 12, 2009; 10:21 AM ET | Comments (0)

Carter's Example

"Formers" can be very useful if they are trusted by both parties and are seen as men and women of good will, interested in the common good.

By Warren Bennis | May 12, 2009; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (0)

Unspoken Rules

Former Vice President Cheney should learn from generations of military officers who understand that once you leave command, you serve as a silent advisor, only providing input when it's requested from the new leader.

By Lt. Col. Todd Henshaw (Ret.) | May 12, 2009; 10:11 AM ET | Comments (8)

Organizations Over Individuals

Former leaders should step aside gracefully, offering both advice and criticism on a private basis when requested by their successors.

By Kurt Schmoke | May 12, 2009; 07:13 AM ET | Comments (0)

Propriety Aside

The real issue is whether in expressing his disagreement with the Obama administration, Mr. Cheney also expresses respect for our democratic process, for the American people and the electoral decision they made.

By Bob Schoultz | May 12, 2009; 07:08 AM ET | Comments (2)


Cheney's insistence on reviewing memos he claims will prove that "enhanced interrogation techniques" like waterboarding saved thousands of American lives may not be wise for the country and even for his political purposes.

By Michael Maccoby | May 12, 2009; 07:02 AM ET | Comments (1)

Free Speech

That former leaders are entitled to free speech reflects positively on our national values; that Dick Cheney condemns respect for human rights reflects negatively on his.

By Prudence Bushnell | May 12, 2009; 06:58 AM ET | Comments (3)

Be Strategic, Not Personal

When former leaders let personal considerations overwhelm or substitute for the strategic is a demonstration of failed leadership. In most cases if you have something to say--say it thoughtfully, strategically, and privately.

By Andy Stern | May 12, 2009; 06:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

Leaving Well

When we leave, we leave. We close the door. Period.

By Frances Hesselbein | May 11, 2009; 04:11 PM ET | Comments (1)

Hardly Helpful

I find it hard to believe that any knowledgeable person, of any political persuasion, would approve of the way that former Vice President Cheney has conducted himself in recent months.

By Howard Gardner | May 11, 2009; 04:01 PM ET | Comments (1)

Get a New Life

My guess that, in most cases, when a former incumbent puts down a successor the main motivation is ego - not altruism. Former leaders should "get a new life" and try to help the world be a better place.

By Marshall Goldsmith | May 11, 2009; 01:02 PM ET | Comments (0)

Every Right to Criticism

Opposition views are at the heart of a functioning democracy, and past leaders like Cheney have every right to offer theirs.

By Pablo Eisenberg | May 11, 2009; 01:00 PM ET | Comments (2)

Tie Up Your Camel

Making deals with people you don't trust is a formula for disaster. If you can't avoid them, be wary and hedge your bets.

By Norm R. Augustine | February 24, 2009; 11:58 AM ET | Comments (0)

Don't Choose -- Create

Anyone with talent could choose either to refuse to cooperate in a huff or submit meekly. The key is using the opportunity to think creatively about engineering something better.

By Roger Martin | February 23, 2009; 01:16 PM ET | Comments (0)

Same Methods, Same Results

Continued polarization within Israeli politics will not succeed, and, as Einstein said, insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

By Gail S. Williams | February 23, 2009; 11:06 AM ET | Comments (0)

Hard-Headed Negotiations

The aim should be to foster negotiation not only with political rivals, but also with Palestinians who in the final analysis will find a coalition in the Israeli government, complete with hard-headed negotiations, in their interest as well as the Israeli interest.

By Abraham Zaleznik | February 23, 2009; 11:05 AM ET | Comments (0)

What Dilemma? What Unity?

What is this "good soldier" nonsense? There is no inherent value in bipartisanship.

By Mickey Edwards | February 23, 2009; 10:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

Be Ready to Quit

Assuming that you have any choice in the matter, you should never accept a position unless you are clear in your own mind under what conditions you will resign that position. Otherwise, you are sacrificing your own judgment and are simply an automaton in someone else's enterprise.

By Howard Gardner | February 23, 2009; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Cooperation, Not Collaboration

Joining an administration with which one has fundamental disagreements requires both leadership and followership -- and integrity. Unfortunately, this type of cooperation was missing among Republicans during passage of the stimulus bill.

By Andy Stern | February 23, 2009; 10:44 AM ET | Comments (0)

Livni's Careful Calculus

When a new CEO is crowned at Japanese companies, rivals are either retired or sent to other companies. But politics is messier, and Livni must decide whether Netanyahu is sincere in his overtures.

By Michael Maccoby | February 23, 2009; 10:31 AM ET | Comments (0)

Serve the Greater Good

Netanyahu, with Livni's support, can unite Israel's disjointed factions and negotiate the "land for peace" deals that will give Israel its long-awaited acceptance in the Middle East.

By Bill George | February 23, 2009; 10:29 AM ET | Comments (0)

Guidance for Junior Officers

Junior military officers can find themselves frustrated by orders that pose an operational or ethical dilemma. Here are four steps to take when confronted with difficult-to-swallow directions.

By Gen. Monty Meigs (Ret.) | February 23, 2009; 10:17 AM ET | Comments (0)

An Urgent Goal

When the stakes are high -- as during the Civil War, today's recession or the situation in Israel and Palestine -- the need to unite far outweighs the need for any person to put forth his or her individual policy.

By Yash Gupta | February 23, 2009; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (0)

When "Good Soldier" Is Impossible

No way will Livni be able to salute to the Netanyahu strategy on the biggest challenge facing her country.

By Marty Linsky | February 23, 2009; 10:04 AM ET | Comments (0)

The High Road to Democracy

Democracy is about choosing to swallow one's pride for the team or continue to fight for a cause that one believes in.

By Marshall Goldsmith | February 23, 2009; 09:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

Following Mugabe

We -- the West, the UN, the African Union -- go along with Robert Mugabe because we can't get it together, we can't muster the political will to act in concert to do otherwise.

By Barbara Kellerman | January 31, 2009; 07:46 AM ET | Comments (0)

Hillary Leads -- and Follows -- As She Takes Over at State

Hillary Clinton's leadership skills -- and her skill as a follower -- were on display in her first day as Secretary of State.

By Barbara Kellerman | January 24, 2009; 07:15 AM ET | Comments (24)

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