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The Art of Followership: How Great Followers Create Great Leaders and Organizations by Ronald E. Riggio, Jean Lipman-Blumen, Ira Chaleff

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Part 3. The Pitfalls and Challenges of Followership

From the very outset, the field of leadership has been characterized by a positive, even romantic, bias.[155] The Great Man theories of leadership set the tone early on, and subsequent work has simply picked up the beat. Consequently, the long shadow of positive leadership has obscured two related phenomena: first, toxic leadership, and second, the pitfalls and challenges that followers face when they find themselves caught in the grip of a bad leader.

This third part of the volume addresses those pitfalls and challenges. Why we tolerate toxic leadership in the schoolyard, in cyberspace, in the workplace, and in the political arena does not yield to a simple answer. In this section, the four researchers and one practitioner who train their lenses on different aspects of this troubling phenomenon raise many uncomfortable questions. They also present us with possible solutions to the problems that arise when followers awaken to the realization that their leaders are far from heroic role models.

Beginning with the internal forces that play a major role, this section examines the normal, but unconscious, psychological and existential factors that entrap often well-intentioned followers who must deal closely or remotely with toxic leaders. Their yearnings for heroism and immortality make followers exceedingly vulnerable to the illusions and inducements—such as safety and significance—that bad leaders offer. Seeking meaning and exhilaration ...

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