Leadership vs. Followership

So, IMG_0294you want to be a leader … most people do.  Have you asked yourself why someone would want to follow you?  Have you asked yourself what type of followers you would want to lead?  Leaders and followers can’t exist without each other.  If your goal is to be a good leader, understanding your followers is a must.  An article in the Harvard Business Review makes the point that individuals are frequently both leaders and followers simultaneously since they deal with bosses as well as subordinates.  The problem is that businesses support and cultivate leadership, but pay little or no attention to the skills of good followers.

The scholar, Robert Kelley, is credited with bringing the field of followership to the forefront.  He describes the four main qualities of effective followers as self-management, commitment, competence, and courage – all strong qualities that can also be associated with leaders.  He introduces “Star Followers” as people who are positive, active, and independent thinkers.  Star followers will not blindly accept the decisions or actions of a leader until they have evaluated them completely.  It’s interesting to find out that these types of followers can succeed without the presence of a leader.  So where does the line between leadership and followership become fuzzy?  It’s when followers become part of the decision making process.

According tP1020654o Psychology Today, behaviorists find that active followers influence leaders at every level of the pecking order, and that leadership itself is a process, not a person.  “Leaders do command a greater attention and influence, but followers affect and even constrain leaders’ activity in more than passing ways,”  Hollander says.  Here’s an example: a first-rate follower makes leaders look good by letting them know what’s going on, getting things done without being told, and being resourceful when necessary.

Great followers make their leaders great, and are key to the success of any group.  Edwin R. Hollander, Ph.D. stated “many effective leaders evolve as a result of the top-notch participation by dedicated followers.”  It’s time that followership roles are recognized as being equal to leadership roles although their activities differ.  Followership is as dynamic as leadership, full of challenges, decisions, and successes.

Boost Your Relationships

Think of what it DSC_0459would be like to be far from home, family, friends, and everything that is familiar, to be free from everyday routines, to not even know exactly what time (and sometimes, what day) it is?  This might feel a bit daunting at first and you may need a little time to adjust.  You’re on your first day of a teen summer program.  The stage is set for a trip toward autonomy – thinking, behaving and making decisions on your own.  How will this affect the way you interact with others, and the way you feel about yourself?  An adventure away from home can test your relationships.  With no daily cell phone use or technological distractions, ‘digital detox’ might set in.  No worries…your family and your real, true friends back home will still be there.  There’s an old saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, meaning that when we’re not with those we love, we love them more.

It’s exciting to be independent enough to grow a diverse social network on your own without help from anyone else!  Summer camp is a place where you can do just that.  For anyone who feels a bit shy, here’s what Grace G. learned: “what you forget on the plane as you’re dreading that first awkward “hello,” is   that everyone else wants to be your friend, too.  By the end of day two, I think we were already best friends.”  Living, working, and having fun together can RelationshipsBlogbe your platform to cultivate honest, fulfilling relationships.  It’s helpful to slow down the hectic pace of life, find the camaraderie in competition, and focus on natural experiences.  Heather H. wrote: “I came to Sail Caribbean solely for the diving, but while I was there, I became so close to all of my new friends.  I came to love just the quiet time that I got to spend with them as much or even more than diving.”

Reuniting with friends and relatives and talking about your adventures brings new energy and enthusiasm.  Parent Flor P. talks about her son’s return home.  “He came back very happy saying that he would like to live in the Caribbean.  he also mentioned how he enjoyed interacting with other members of the crew.  He also enjoyed talking to some local people in the islands.  He is now interested in cooking and making all of us dinner!!!”  An adventure camp can change you.  You might find a new appreciation for what your parents do and have done for you.  You might discover the value of your older relationships and begin to strengthen and revitalize them.  The actual process of making new friends might become a more comfortable and more enjoyable experience.  You might notice that face-to-face interactions create bonds much stronger than FaceTime.  You might begin to connect with others more quickly.  Crew member Karina S. said “We came onto this boat on Day 1 and wP1030884e were complete strangers, and now on day 13 we are closer than family.”  Whatever realizations you have, and whatever changes happen, teen summer camps are sure to boost your relationships.

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