Chapter 7. Rethinking Leadership and Followership

A Student's Perspective

Krista Kleiner

Colleges want leaders." Those three words have been drilled into my head by teachers, administrators, parents, and books that describe what colleges are looking for. Every time I receive a form I must fill out to apply for any type of position or to become a part of a group, I find myself feeling nauseated knowing that there will be at least five long blank lines headed "Leadership Positions Held."

On February 24, 2006, I arrived at Claremont McKenna College to attend what I understood to be a type of leadership conference titled Rethinking Followership. I had been furiously trying to think of what I could do to add more things to my college applications to show that I was a leader, as I had failed to obtain enough "titles" during my high school career. Given that I had been considering applying to Claremont McKenna, a renowned leadership school, I decided that attending that conference would be a great way to show them just how much of a leader I was.

To my dismay, the leadership conference I attended was one that focused not on leaders but on followers. I sat there for eight hours on the first day of the conference attentively trying to comprehend all that the distinguished speakers were conveying. In summary, all the professors and practitioners were telling me that our society underappreciated the value of being a good "follower" and that we should learn to embrace the follower in ourselves ...

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