Tag Archives: followership

Follow The Leader: The #1 Task Of The Leader Is To Attract Followers!

Nearly everything I read has something to say about leadership.  In one way or another, authors tell us:  “this is what a leaders does; this is what a leader needs to do; this is what a leader should focus on.”

In the book I presented last Friday at our monthly event, the First Friday Book Synopsis, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt, we learned that “developing and implementing a strategy is the central task of a leader…

I don’t disagree with that, or most of the other things I read about leadership.  The fact is that leadership is an all-encompassing, incredibly important role.  Good leaders can create good and successful companies and organizations.  Bad leaders can lead to genuine problems, even the destruction or disintegration of a company or organization.  Many stories of each are everywhere available.

But I think there is one “this is the main task of leadership” consideration that trumps them all.  It is the task of a leader to attract followers.  Because, if there are no followers, there is no leader.  Leadership is not a “title,” it is a fact.  And followership may be the single biggest signal of successful leadership.

In the book, Tribal Leadership:  Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright focus on the “tribal” metaphor for companies and organizations.

It’s as though our tribe is part of our genetic code.  Birds flock, fish school, people “tribe.”   

In a tribe, leadership is truly critical.  And as they describe successful tribal leadership, they give this short, simple assertion:

Tribal Leaders are talent magnets, with people so eager to work for the leader that they will take a pay cut if necessary. 

People have a need for good leaders; people need to follow good leaders.  Tribal leaders attract followers — followers practically fight to get “under the leadership” of a good tribal leader.

The book proposes five stages of tribal leadership (from the book):







Innocent Wonderment

“Life is Great”



Tribal Pride

“We’re Great (and they’re not)”



Lone Warrior

“I’m Great (and you’re not)”



Apathetic Victim

“My life sucks”



Despairing Hostility

“Life sucks”

In this list, the goal for the tribal leader is to aim for stage 5, and help each tribe member move up the stages together.  Yes, to “move up together – to “follow the leader.”

The leader says, “this is where we are going – together.  Now, let’s go.”  Building followership to take that journey together is the test of, the proof of, genuine leadership.



Leadership; Followership – Jason Garrett, the Dallas Cowboys, and a little non-compliance

Bob Morris, my colleague on this blog, has written more than once about the power of “followership.”  Followership is valuable.  So – consider this…


I am convinced that if journalists covered any story the way that the Dallas Morning News covers the Dallas Cowboys, we’d understand, and then solve, every problem in the country in a week.

You should have seen the paper the morning after Wade Phillips was fired.  You needed the physical paper – the on-line version simply did not have the over-all impact of the two page spread with the charts and graphics and analysis, all in one big overwhelming visual.  Seriously, the News covers few stories with the detail and creativity that they demonstrate in their coverage of the Dallas Cowboys.

Anyway, Jason Garrett is the new (interim) coach, and we think he may have pulled off the miracle of the decade last night in beating the New York Giants yesterday.  But there was this item on the Cowboys blog by Todd Archer (on the News web site) that just really rubbed me the wrong way.  Jason Garrett comes in providing clear directions, with leadership that is clearly desperately needed.  But leaders have to be followed.  And this one guy – well, if this account is true, he’s just a jerk!  Here’s the account:

Jason Garrett made it clear that players were required to wear sport coats, ties, slacks and dress shoes for road trips. After all, today’s game against the New York Giants is a business trip.
Hanging around the Jersey City Westin on Saturday night when the team arrived, I noticed Marion Barber was in a sport coat and jeans without a tie. Everybody else I saw – and it was not everybody – met Garrett’s requirement.
Is it a big deal? Not really but there is a level of disrespect being shown by not following the dress code in the first week. And it gives Garrett the chance to send a message, whether he does it publicly or not. Players will know what happens.
What makes it worse, to me, is that Barber is a team captain and he chose not to follow Garrett’s rules. What kind of message does that send to the team as a captain?
We’ll see the post-game attire. Players are required to return home in suits too. That was not the case under Wade Phillips.

A Tribute to Neda

Cheryl offers: The world has been transfixed by the image of a young 27 year old Iranian woman dying in the recent presidential election protests.  I must admit, I cannot bring myself to view the video because it hits too close to home.  My own daughter is 27. However, it has been the topic of conversation for days now everywhere I go.  This was a woman of courage, conviction, and strength.

 In fact, in the few photos coming from Iran, I’ve seen the faces of many women adding their voices  to the protests.  It brought to mind the story about other strong, determined women documented in the book Followership by Barbara Kellerman.   In February 1943, the German Gestapo had arrested about ten thousand Jews. While most were sent immediately to Auschwitz, about two thousand were detained in Berlin on a street named Rosenstrasse. These were men married to non-Jewish women.  As the news of the arrests circulated across Berlin, hundreds of women gathered in protest, shouting “Give us our husbands back!”  Less than a week later, Goebbels himself issued an order that released not only their Jewish husbands, but also their children who had been taken. Who knew the Nazis ever backed down?  Who knew it could be because women joined forces to create real change?

 Being rational, physically strong, assertive, ambitious, confident, analytical, and courageous are words frequently used to describe great leaders.  They are also words I would use to describe the actions of women like Neda and the Rosenstrasse protesters. Recently I heard someone say a sign of leadership was someone who could “See a need; fill a need.”  Indeed, Neda has shown us all how that is done.  

 Sara adds:  Amen.