“Followership” – Barbara Kellerman


Book:Barbara Kellerman’s book “Followership” considers the impact of the follower on leadership effectiveness. 

Summary:Kellerman argues that the follower is often neglected in the leadership debate.  Using examples from the military, religion, the corporate and political world, she demonstrates that to ignore the influence of the follower is to do so at our peril.

Opinion: Most helpful of all perhaps is her categorisation of followers as isolates, bystanders, participants, activists and diehards [sic].  Although this was not the purpose intended by the book, this categorisation is particularly useful for leaders tackling the issues associated with resistance to change.  By understanding where the follower lies on this continuum (isolate – least engaged; diehard – most engaged), the leader is in a better position to gauge the extent of resistance among followers.

Conclusion:  While I enjoyed this book and in particular Kellerman’s style, I feel it is just as unrealistic to write a book which to a large extent ignores the importance of the role played by the leader.  In reality, the extent to which the influence of followers outweighs that of leaders and vice versa is dependent on the situation and Kellerman has carefully chosen her situations to get her point across – as indeed, we all do!

Recommend:  I am happy to recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding why some individuals are willing to follow whole-heartedly and others just couldn’t be bothered!

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