Chapter 16. Bystanders to Children's Bullying

The Importance of Leadership by "Innocent Bystanders"

Lorna S. Blumen

One of the most exciting ideas to come from leadership theory suggests that leadership and followership are neither dichotomous nor mutually exclusive. Rather, leadership and followership are dynamic roles, existing on a continuum. Instead of conceptualizing leadership as a commission, appointed or elected, and restricted to a select few, we must reframe and recognize that we all have the ability and, more important, the responsibility to be both leader and follower, as the situation requires.

One's individual place on the leadership-followership spectrum varies over time. Yet even while occupying a position toward the leadership end of the spectrum, one needs concurrent followership qualities. Conversely, there are leadership skills required of followers, too. Just as we can identify examples of positive and negative leadership, so we can distinguish patterns of positive and negative followership.

We allocate many resources today—time, money, and effort—to identify and cultivate leadership skills in adults. Unfortunately, much of what passes for adult leadership "development" is actually remedial retraining of poor interpersonal skills and bad behavior patterns that have frequently persisted since childhood. Isn't it cheaper and easier to build incremental leadership and followership skills in our children as they grow, rather than having to instill these skills ...

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