Chapter 2. Leadership: A Partnership in Reciprocal Following

James Maroosis

There is a conception of leadership gaining ground to-day very different from our old notion.... It is a conception very far removed from the leader-follower relation. With that conception you had to be either a leader or a leaner. To-day our thinking is tending less and less to be confined within the boundaries of those two alternatives. There is the idea of a reciprocal leadership. There is also the idea of a partnership of following, of following the invisible leader—the common purpose. The relation of the rest of the group to the leader is not a passive one.

—Mary Parker Follett[15]

Leadership, in the words of Mary Parker Follett, is a partnership in reciprocal following. This partnership follows what she calls the invisible leader, the common purpose, the law of the situation. Thus leadership as responding to a call is a type of following, and following because it needs to hear the call is a type of leading.

Followership, like leadership, requires discrimination. Both need to be able to pick who and what to follow. Followership and leadership are two necessary components of what it means to be either a good leader or a good follower. In other words, there are no leaders who are not followers, nor followers who are not leaders; both need to learn what and how to follow—that is, to lead themselves and others to heed, recognize, and respond in a humane manner to what is being called for in a given ...

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