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Guam – Courageous Followership what we learnt from the last ebbf breakfast

The team at ebbf in Guam have been offering a successful series of ebbf breakfasts covering topics such as “the value of service”, “gender equality in banking”, “cultural changes, transforming companies into communities”.

We share some of the learning from the last ebbf breakfast dedicated to the concept of Courageous Followership held at the  Bank of Guam training centre. The speaker Dr. John Rivera began his talk with the idea of leaders/leadership where people get caught in the “person” rather than the “idea”.

Leaders have certain qualities – Hitler/Ghandi – same charisma in leadership but significantly different outcomes. Understanding leadership requires understanding of groups and teams.  Leadership has been studied in academia for only about 100 years and only about 50 years ago did the study of followership get studied.  And only very recently have we come to recognise that …

leadership can fail – Enron, Tyco etc.

Fundamentally, corporations were created to protect individual leaders, to protect them from liability.

Courageous followers have only been studied recently.  It is about the relationship between leaders and followers.  Leaders have a tremendous impact on followers.  80% of the feel of a company is affected by the leader – by his vision where the organization is going.  Authenticity matters, only 7% of words are retained.  Leaders don’t exist without followers.  A leader’s legitimacy is granted by her/his followers which is not to be expected, it is a gift given and to be accepted.  Good leaders would admit that they don’t now everything.

The ethics of followers is that they will walk the dark path until they understand and have a relationship with the leader.  There are 5 points in followership:

  1. Obligation – balance between too little and too much (work time/obligation to self).

  2. Obedience – duty of loyalty and danger of following blindly.

  3. Cynicism – healthy skepticism and healthy cynicism.

  4. Dissent – failure to speak up – sometimes one must agree to disagree.

  5. Bad news – risky business, balance between speaking up with courage and speaking up for the sake of correcting.  (One cannot blame one’s parents or grandparents for not being helpful with college level classes if they did not have the opportunity to have such education themselves).

Dr. Rivera mentioned Ira Chaleff’s book “The Courageous Follower” from where he took some points.

The Courageous Follower calls for overcoming fear for the purpose of doing right.  One should not be oblivious of fears and anxieties, they keep us safe, but we should still move forward. (There is a cost to it.)  Followers must have

the courage to

  1. Assume responsibility – being accountable.  The hardest is being responsible for others’ actions or behavior.

  2. Serve – not only work hard, that is not glamorous.  True leaders will be consumed by this.

  3. Challenge – this is difficult.  Confrontation, questioning policies, leaders views and disobeying unethical orders.

  4. Participate – in transformation – charisma is at the heart of this trust – it can make you do right or wrong.

  5. Leave – when followers have developed their own identity

Leaders are people who take others to places they have never known existed.  (You don’t know what you don’t know.)

The paradox of leadership is that you want your team to move from dependent to co-dependent. If I did my job as leader you won’t need me any longer.  This is the same as a parent, the goal is for one’s children to become independent.

Leadership approaches are cyclical – first it focused on efficiency, then moved back to humanitarian views then back to hard sciences.  Leadership and followership are present in the same person as well as aspects of formal and informal leadership.

The next ebbf Guam breakfast will take place on the 24th of September ( contact for more information )

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