Free Download – Fifth Book in Series on Risk
Following-Leading in Risk
So much of what we do in risk is individualistic taking a focus on individual behaviours often with a hidden agenda to blame or find cause. This is certainly the case in common approaches to mental health but also in the way we view management and leadership. Many texts in management and leadership also adopt military metaphors and models to attribute leadership as some kind of ‘battle’. However, the beginning and foundation of leadership is not the leader but the followers.
Understanding followership is the foundation of leadership. This is the message of Following-Leading in Risk, A Humanising Dynamic a book that tackles risk from a grassroots perspective in the discipline of a Social Psychology of Risk.
Following-Leading is hyphenated as one word because the key to leading is not in the individual but rather in the ‘meeting’ of the two. This is the i-thou of dialectical relationship. In this book, the fourth in a series on risk, Craig and Rob focus on this space, naming it ‘The Zone of Reciprocal Relationship’. What happens in this space ‘between’ is social, relational, ethical, educational and ‘risky’.
Since 2004, a change occurred in leadership discourse, through the influence of social movements evidenced by Wikileaks, GetUp, the Arab Spring, Snowden and the Occupy Movement. These social movements have led to a shift in balance away from the power of the leader toward that of the follower.
In The Art of Followership, Riggio says:
‘Too often, followers are expected to be agreeable and acquiescent and are rewarded for being so, when in fact followers who practice knee-jerk obedience are of little value and are often dangerous. If I had to reduce the responsibilities of a good follower to a single rule, it would be to speak the truth to power. We know that toxic followers can put even good leaders on a disastrous path – Shakespeare’s Iago comes immediately to mind. But heroic followers can also save leaders from their worst follies, especially leaders so isolated that the only voice they hear is their own.’ (2008, p.xxv)
In Australia in 2014, a litany of enquiries has revealed corruption in high places: in the church, politics and unions. Faith in leaders is at an all time low. It is often the whistleblowers, followers and those in the ‘out- group’ who are doing the leading. A paradigm shift is needed in leadership, especially as it relates to risk.
The message in this series of books on risk is that Risk Makes Sense. There is no learning through risk aversion. As risk is a social activity, learning and discerning in risk must be undertaken communally rather than individually. Risk happens in the and between the follower and the leader.
Just as there is no leadership in absolutes like zero and intolerance, but rather in adaptability, relationship and mutuality. So too, is there no great value in the passive blind follower.
If the management of risk is to be humanised then heroic-leading must go and reciprocity in leading-following needs to be ushered in.