Do you follow? Understanding followership before leadership

Stern, L. J. (2020) Do you follow? Understanding followership before leadership. Management in Education, 35 (1). pp. 58-61. ISSN 0892-0206

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I’ve spent most of my life in education, as a pupil, student, teacher, lecturer and manager. At every moment, I have had a sense of being a bit of a leader: for example, I led an investigation into the Incas while in primary school, later, I led half a university. At the same time, I had a sense I was a follower. Yes, I admit it: I was a follower. There were teachers, head teacher, tutors, supervisors, heads of department and vice chancellors, all, at various times, in leadership positions over me. Why is that so hard to admit? Leadership is much talked about, written about, researched and celebrated. But followership seems to me to be leadership’s forgotten companion, ignored, an embarrassment. Followership is the f-word that we hate to use. Chaleff, one of the few enthusiastic writers on followership, nevertheless writes of the ‘deepest discomfort with the term follower’, as ‘[i]t conjures up images of docility, conformity, weakness, and failure to excel’ (Chaleff, 2009: 3). I want to explore the ethics and the politics of followership because, without it, leadership cannot be justified.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020 SAGE. This is an author accepted manuscript of a paper subsequently published in Management in Education. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Divisions: Research and Innovation Centre
Depositing User: Julian Stern
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2021 12:52
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2021 10:01

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