Leadership or fellowship?

Declan Elliott notes that

A quick search on Amazon.com returns 17 879 titles on Leadership 21 titles on followership and 2,716 titles on Fellowship.

Hmmm, interesting. So lots of people are into leadership, but following is well out of favour. Which could be a recipe for frustration, don’t you think?

Now fellowship, that strikes me a theme that deserves much more of our attention and points to an escape from what could be a blind alley. In fellowship, I think we might allow leadership, and followship, to be things that move moment by moment from one person to another – and at best, maybe in fellowship we stop worrying about who leads and who follows. There are some great improv exercises to explore this territory.

At some point I may expand this to talk about how many of the conversations we’re offered are about either being propositioned, or propositioning someone. For me, fellowship involves a less instrumental way of experiencing each other, something for which I feel quite hungry these days.

3 thoughts on “Leadership or fellowship?

  1. Wayne

    Also from searches on Amazon, Interesting contrast with the following:

    Collaboration 1527

    Cooperation 4990

    Democracy 13263

    Demoracy at work 36

    Johnnie, the more I read your blog, the more I think you’d find Jurgen Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action a great source of depth and inspiration if you haven’t already!

    Best wishes



    Lovely. It’s nice to see “fellowship” resurrected in the context of leadership. As a participant in a faith community, it’s a term with which I’m familiar because it goes to the issues of mutuality and equal regard, not exclusivity. “Who wants to fellowship?” is indeed much more satisfying than “who wants to follow?”

  2. Dilys

    Today Gates of Vienna makes reference to koinonia, which appears to have been an idea which grew from the work of Wilfrid Bion. Fellowship has a little too much tribal nostalgia, or even demand for unconditional maternal regard, for my comfort. Though mutuality and equal regard are appealing, effective systems require some degree of specialization and it’s best if regard comes in appreciation of character and function. Aiming for mutual esteem prior to its emergence in process is like aiming for self-esteem in lieu of teaching competence.

    And Jim reminds me to read Habermas.

  3. Johnnie Moore

    Thanks for the comments, James/Wayne/Dilys. It seems this strikes some kind of chord.

    Dilys: Each of these words will have a different resonance for each of us. I like your point about emergence… I think of fellowship as something very much bound up with shared activity.

    I don’t associate fellowship with a demand for unconditional regard, though I can see it being thought of that way.


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