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Ira Chaleff Rebuttal: Mitch McCrimmon

Page history last edited by elisabeth higgins null 11 years, 4 months ago


This was written in response to a blog posting we featured on our home page by Mitch McCrimmon. It can be found at:

 along with additional comments by Mitch McCrimmon.




Mitch McCrimmon makes a slew of wonderful points about knowledge residing in
lower levels of the organization, of fluid acts of leadership and
followership, and the need to let those with knowledge have lots of running
room regardless of position in the hierarchy or title. Kudos Mitch.

However, he seems to confuse the ideal state of organizations with the
actual. I work routinely with large corporations and government agencies.
The amount of subservience, fear, lack of candor, masking of true feelings
and concerns, cynicism and disaffection with positional leaders is
significant and unhealthy. Why does this occur?

It occurs because there is a real and a perceived power differential between
positional leaders and positional followers. Mitch is describing an
idealistic world in which none of the above exists. I am attempting to deal
with the real world where people have to re-examine their relationship to
authority and find the right balance between self-protective prudence and
reckless whistleblowing in order to improve the organizations of which they
are part. That middle point is courage. And if you think it doesn't take
courage to speak up to the hierarchy then you just haven't been around
hierarchies very much.

Further, Mitch is just talking about corporate cultures where the worst that
can be done to you, more or less, is fire you. My own interest has always
been more deeply concerned with political leaders and followers. If we don't
create a different style of following in that arena, a style that embodies
courage and conscience, we will continue mankind's terrible history of
following leaders who oppress, enslave or slaughter thousands and millions
of people.

Now I don't mind if people address these dynamics without using the labels
of leaders and followers. It's the dynamics themselves that need addressing.
Let's focus on those Mitch. I doubt that the nascent followership movement
is contributing to the preservation of those dynamics and it certainly
didn't create them. In fact, virtually all of the literature of followership
calls for a self-empowered, supportive, accountable, moral and courageous
stance. In whatever way we can help people and organizations get closer to
that ideal I'm for it.

Ira Chaleff
Author: The Courageous Follower: Standing Up To and For Our Leaders, 3rd


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