Following Leading in Risk – Free Download
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Understanding what happens in the space between those who lead and those who follow is the new frontier in the leadership debate. In this book, the fourth in a series on risk, the authors focus on this space, naming it ‘The Zone of Reciprocal Relationship’. They deliberately depart from the traditional leader- centric approach that so dominates our thinking about power, authority and influence. This approach is
best captured in the ‘hero-myth’ model so familiar from ancient stories of myth and legend right through to modern fantasies like Star Wars. In contrast, the authors present an alternative model, where the emphasis is on mutuality between followers and leaders. For this reason they connect the ‘Following- Leading’ dynamic in one hyphenated word, in which the hyphen becomes more the focus of interest than the words it joins. What happens in this space ‘between’ is social, relational, ethical, educational and ‘risky’.
Since 2004, a change has begun in the 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 the 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.
In the New Testament, Jesus says: ‘And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, The old is better’ (Luke 5:36-39).
The message in this series 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. There is no hope in absolutes like zero and intolerance, but rather in adaptability, relationship and mutuality. If the management of risk is to be humanised then heroics must go and reciprocity in leading-following needs to be ushered in.
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