Following, but not sheep

My friend Matt Moore and colleague Anne Murphy have started up a new blog on the idea of Followership. A useful antidote to much laboured thinking on the virtues of leadership. In this post, Matt talks about how following is typically equated with being a sheep. He reports how how people ask about “how to get people aligned” as a euphemism for “how do I get people to obey me.”

If you stop to think about it this is quite a deep dark question. Because if you follow those pesky existentialists, the core of being human is our ability to choose our own lives. Never absolutely and rarely independently but some element of choice is part of being human. So above question is actually: “How can I dehumanise people?”

3 thoughts on “Following, but not sheep

  1. Earl Mardle

    Which is where leadership actually happens.

    Most of what people think of as “leading” is actually herding, trying to push other people in the direction you want them to go.

    leading entails risk, risk that nobody will follow and that you will be left stuck out like a shag on a rock, risk that you will look like an ass.

    I dare to suggest that THAT is why leadership, actual leadership, is so rare, not just today, but in all of history.

    Like Horatio at the bridge, real leaders take the risks first and, actuarially, I suggest that most such leaders get cut down first and someone else gets to lead somewhere else.

    Successful leaders are both out in front, and friggin lucky and without the luck, oblivion awaits as usual.

  2. Dwight Towers

    Hi Johnnie,

    firstly, thanks for the link, which did wonders for my blog stats!

    Secondly, congrats on what looks like a bloody excellent site (I have only just got here).

    Earl has made an excellent point – leadership often entails being a “voice in the wilderness”. You see it towards the end of successful struggles for national liberation – the ones who did the hard grind get burnt out/sold out, and the smooth/slick ones who were never in the firing line manouevre for position. Not always, but often.

    More broadly, we can’t all be leaders in all areas of our lives. I personally am happy to “lead” in some, but very happy to follow (but not be a sheep!) in others.

    Best wishes

    Dwight Towers


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