My third answer to the question “Why followership” rests on my values and, I think, on my childhood experiences.

I moved a lot as a child. My father’s ambition – for which I’m grateful: he moved beyond the confines of a small coal mining village and across the world – kept the family on the move. By the time I finished primary school I’d lived in three countries, 9 houses and attended 5 schools. This made be very good at being the “new person”.

Actually, I hated being the new person. I tend to be introverted and as a child I was painfully shy. I got very good at working out how they do things here – excellent training for someone interested in how organisations and the people in them work! I was also mindful of those who were left out (it could so easily be me) and tried to include them.

Add a strong dose of Sunday School and some core values develop:

  • Everyone is valuable
  • Those with title or status or power are not intrinsically more important than those without.
  • No one should be left out.

Organisations (whether work, school or wherever) need everyone’s contribution, not everyone plays the same role. We can place too much emphasis on leadership. Good things happen when everyone plays an active role which shifts and moves. This is a dance of leading and following, of stepping up and stepping back. What followers do in the leadership relationship and process and what effective followership looks like and contributes is something I find fascinating.