Chapter 8. The Hero's Journey to Effective Followership and Leadership

A Practitioner's Focus

Gail S. Williams

This chapter focuses on how leadership and followership are compatible ways of being and describes the journey of developing powerful leadership and followership skills. It begins with a description of the current context of why skilled leadership and followership are critical to NASA's future, in general, and to Goddard Space Flight Center, specifically. It offers the findings of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board as context. I use these findings to reinforce the Leadership Alchemy program's belief that leaders and followers must cocreate a new culture by transforming themselves first—from the inside out—and then turning their attention to organizational transformation.

Next, using the metaphor of Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, I offer insights into how NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Leadership Alchemy program cultivates a community of Ambassadors of Positive Change. I delineate the program's innovative whole-person learning approach, emphasizing several skills essential to being a powerful follower and leader. The chapter discusses the purposeful choices one is faced with, including the ability to design and hold powerful and fierce conversations, to clearly and influentially use language, to focus on the appreciative, and to consciously choose one's attitude and create a mood that is conducive to learning and the desired outcome. I describe several success ...

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