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Followership: How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders (Center for Public Leadership) [Hardcover]

Barbara Kellerman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 18, 2008 1422103684 978-1422103685
This groundbreaking volume provides the first sweeping view of followers in relation to their leaders, deliberately departing from the leader-centric approach that dominates our thinking about leadership and management. Barbara Kellerman argues that, over time, followers have played increasingly vital roles. For two key reasons, this trend is now accelerating. Followers are becoming more important, and leaders less. Through gripping stories about a range of people and places—from multinational corporations such as Merck, to Nazi Germany, to the American military after 9/11—Kellerman makes key distinctions among five different types of followers: Isolates, Bystanders, Participants, Activists, and Diehards. And she explains how they relate not only to their leaders but also to each other. Thanks to Followership, we can finally appreciate the ways in which those with relatively fewer sources of power, authority, and influence are consequential. Moreover, they are getting bolder and more strategic. As Kellerman makes crystal clear, to fixate on leaders at the expense of followers is to do so at our peril. The latter are every bit as important as the former, which makes this book required reading for superiors and subordinates alike.

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Followership: How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders (Center for Public Leadership) + The Courageous Follower: Standing Up to and for Our Leaders + The Art of Followership: How Great Followers Create Great Leaders and Organizations
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government professor Kellerman (Bad Leadership) shifts the focus from leadership to followership, arguing that followers are every bit as important as leaders. Defining followers as subordinates who have less power, authority and influence than their superiors, and who usually, but not always, fall into line, she notes that we are all followers at different points in time. Followers, Kellerman argues, are getting bolder and more strategic, less likely to know their place and affecting work places, to mixed results. She identifies five types of followers based upon level of engagement: Isolate, Bystander, Participant, Activist and Diehard. She explores each type, with examples ranging from Nazi Germany to Merck to the U.S. military's Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan. She also explores the relationships between leaders and followers, who, Kellerman argues, should be thought of as inseparable. Followership is not about changing the rank of followers, Kellerman states, but instead about changing their response to their rank, their superiors and the situation at hand. Thorough and insightful, Kellerman provides a fascinating look at a little-explored topic, which will be of great interest to both leaders and followers. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Barbara Kellerman is James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Among her many books on leadership, she is author of Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (February 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422103684
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422103685
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Barbara Kellerman is the James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. She was the Founding Executive Director of the Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership, from 2000 to 2003; and from 2003 to 2006 she served as the Center's Research Director. Kellerman has held professorships at Fordham, Tufts, Fairleigh Dickinson, George Washington, and Uppsala Universities. She also served as Dean of Graduate Studies and Research at Fairleigh Dickinson, and as Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Leadership at the Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland.

Kellerman received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, and her M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. (1975, in Political Science) degrees from Yale University. She was awarded a Danforth Fellowship and three Fulbright fellowships. At Uppsala (1996-97), she held the Fulbright Chair in American Studies. Kellerman was cofounder of the International Leadership Association (ILA), and is author and editor of many books including Leadership: Multidisciplinary Perspectives; The Political Presidency: Practice of Leadership; and Reinventing Leadership: Making the Connection Between Politics and Business. She has appeared often on media outlets such as CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, NPR, Reuters and BBC, and has contributed articles and reviews to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and the Harvard Business Review.

Her most recent books are Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters (2004); a co-edited (with Deborah Rhode) volume, Women & Leadership: State of Play and Strategies for Change (2007); and Followership: How Followers are Creating Change and Changing Leaders (2008). Kellerman speaks to audiences around the world, including in recent years Berlin, London, Moscow, Rome, Sao Paolo, Shanghai, Zurich, Jerusalem, Turin, Toronto, and Montreal. She is on the Advisory Board of the Leadership Research Network, on the Advisory Panel of the White House Leadership Project Report, on the editorial Board of Leadership Quarterly, and on the Publications Committee of the International Leadership Association. She is ranked by as among "Top 50 Business Thinkers" (2009) and by Leadership Excellence in top 15 of 100 "best minds on leadership." Her next book, Leadership: Essential Selections on Power, Authority, and Influence, will be published in March 2010 by McGraw-Hill.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Who leads whom?" That depends on the situation. August 13, 2008
In recent years, especially in the business world, relationships between "leaders" and "followers" have changed significantly. Throughout most of human history, leaders at the highest level (e.g. tribal chiefs, war lords, monarchs, and tyrants) were almost always those who seized or inherited positions of authority. Business leaders were owners. Over time, the concept of self-determination evolved to a point when political authority began to shift to elected representatives. Stock companies with shared ownership emerged in the business world. Still later, labor unions were formed to secure and protect workers' rights. Throughout this lengthy process, the respective roles of the leader and follower reflected various social, political, and economic changes. Today, it is often difficult to answer a rather simple question, "Who leads whom?"

According to Barbara Kellerman, "followership is the response of those in subordinate positions (followers) to those in superior ones (leaders). Followership implies a relationship (rank), between subordinates and superiors, and a response (behavior), of the former to the latter." Her book departs from the leader-centric approach that dominates much of the current consideration of leadership and management. "Focusing on followers enables us to see the parts they play, even when they do little or nothing. And it empowers them, which is to say that it empowers us." Kellerman duly acknowledges that the line that separates superiors from their subordinates is often "blurred." Also, "the line between them tends to shift. Some of us are followers most of the time and leaders some f the time. Others are the opposite." Finally, that many people are superiors and subordinates simultaneously.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Food for Thought for Congregational Leaders November 22, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Kellerman makes the claim that followers are important, every bit as important as leaders (xviii). She defines followers as "subordinates who have less power, authority, and influence than do their superiors and who therefore usually, but not invariably, fall into line" (xix). Followership "implies a relationship (rank), between subordinates and superiors, and a response (behavior), of the former to the latter" (xx). Kellerman observes that followers are "less likely now than they were in the past" to follow orders without questions, never voice opinions, and know their place, and leaders make a mistake when they do not pay attention to and take seriously their followers (xxi).

The book is divided into three parts. In part I Kellerman explores the nature of followership: separating fact from fiction, the relationship between leaders and followers, and the various types of followers. Part II contains descriptions of the five types of followers Kellerman identifies: isolates, bystanders, participants, activists, and diehards. In part III the author turns her attention to the future and theorizes that followers will have more influence than ever before. Over the course of the book Kellerman surveys the existing literature on followership and traces the historical development of the topic, and addresses why individuals and groups follow leaders, the influence that followers have on one another, how followers follow leaders, what makes followers "good" or "bad," and how followers can take on bad leaders.

Barbara Kellerman makes a significant contribution to the practice of leadership through her compelling argument that leaders must pay attention to and take seriously their followers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Kellerman's work is a surprisingly readable, well-researched effort to correct the egregious oversight, devaluation, and misunderstanding of the role of followership. She outlines societal and philosophical factors that indicate why followership is important now in a way that it has not always been.

The strength of this book lies in Chapters 1-4, & 10 (also Ch 9); the categories of follower types that she develops in Chapters 5-8 are only marginally useful, despite the foundation of interesting case studies. I'm not convinced that the distinctions between the types (Bystanders, Participants, Activists, Diehards) are significant enough to be helpful, and ultimately the types do not present a paradigm that's really informative or instructive for living (and developing) as a follower.

Kellerman's work is realistic in interacting with the truth and realities of leadership, followership, and hierachies (i.e. it doesn't attempt to erase either the role of leader or of follower), and this book is highly effective for promoting awareness about this oft-overlooked topic. However, while it reports examples of "How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders" (the book's subtitle), it falls short of serving to launch followers forward in practically bettering themselves and contributing more effectively to the leader-follower dialectic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on Follower Influence and more! December 22, 2013
By Krisy M
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Followership is a great book that defines the true meaning of a follower, discusses past situations where followers have played both a positive and negative part in historical events and present day followers doing big things to impact leaders, law and social justice. There are several implications discussed regarding the type of follower an individual decides to be in a given situation (bystander, participant or activist). Finally, there are several great pointers for followers to influence change as well as the point made by the author of why it is important that followers are not forgotten in a leader focused society. After all, would there be leaders if not for followers?
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