Tag Archives: followership

Leadership and Followership – Speirs Run

It might not be the best 52 seconds of video, but it is up there, at least when it comes to leadership and followership.  So much in so short a period – it is amazing what great writers, directors, and actors can achieve.  Of course, everything is better when it is based on real people, in a real situation.  Band of Brothers is one of the finest things ever produced.  There have been countless books written about the men of Easy Company and Dick Winters, all noting the leadership that carried them through the war.  However, the scene that depicted the events at the village of Foy during Episode 7 is simply perfection.

The first 7 seconds – great leadership and followership.  Winters is the leader.  He has absolute faith in his subordinate Speirs.  Winters has to make a decision, things are not going well.  He makes a decision and acts; he calls on Speirs.  Winters provides extremely clear, concise direction and then lets his subordinate execute.  Speirs receives his orders from his leader and moves out.  He never asks how, where, when, or why.  He does not complain, ask for support, or otherwise object.  He goes forth and does.  An amazing example of the faith and confidence leaders and followers must share.

After a brief but dramatic transition, Speirs arrives on scene.  Note how quick the transition from follower to leader can be.  In less than 15 seconds Speirs establishes his leadership position and is apprised of the situation by his subordinate leader.  Instantly, he states his vision, gives his followers clear, concise direction.  He immediately demonstrates his total faith in them to accomplish the task at hand.  And then as all leaders must, Speirs sets the example through his actions and active participation – he quite literally leads from the front.

Also note Speirs subordinate leaders – they have faith in their new leader and are inspired to action.  The subordinate leaders immediately step forward, seize on Speirs vision, leadership, and example; they immediately transition from followers to leaders as well.  And never does Speirs hesitate – he knows the men will follow, that his subordinate leaders will act.  Trust flows up and down and side to side – everyone is bought in instantly.  Again, an amazing example of the shared confidence leaders and followers must posses.

Granted, the next 2 minutes of the clip serve as both a reinforcement of what has already been learned, as well as an incredible example to all leaders.  However, it is the first 52 seconds that is the heart of leadership and followership.  Leaders make decisions, they clearly state their vision, then they have the faith and confidence in their team to get it done.  Leaders do, they take part, and they own the situation.  Followers believe in, have faith in, confidence in, and will quite literally follow good, strong, decisive leaders.  At the core leadership and followership is about trust.

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As I Say or As I Do

In an interesting way, the “classics” are reinforced in some of the most unorthodox ways.  It is just a product of a wired and connected, youtube, facebook and twitter world – anyone can get their message out.  Long way from the days of Wayne and Garth on local cable access.

Leadership and followership – it is a complex issue that has spawned countless books, lectures, training camps and schools of thought. Then again, it is a topic that can be summed up so well in a brief moment in the very midst of a profanity laced rant that went viral last week.

“I’m not doin’ what you don’t do. You’re the leader, I’m followin’.”

It is that age-old leadership adage in a stripped down format.  “Do as I say, not as I do” was always one of those leadership “isms” that was driven into me from an early age.  Granted Felonious Munk’s rant, while epic, witty and timely, is hardly the stuff to be shown at a leadership conference, the lesson holds.

In the office, on the sports field, in politics, in the home, even in life, it is about what we do, or do not do. Behavior is emulated, copied, and learned.  Those who carry the mantle of being the example have to set the example.  Not talk about it, but do it.  There it is, a take off on the classic “do as I say not as I do” theme. So simple and yet so hard for so many in leadership positions to really grasp – it is in the end all about the example you set.

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