Which Leaders Measure Up?

We have been exploring what we can learn from battle-tested Christian business leaders to help us all lead more powerfully and impactfully for Christ in an increasingly challenging marketplace.

But what lessons can (and must) we learn from followers?

Much as been written about leadership qualities. Their vital importance in moving people and organizations from Current Reality to Desired Future. Today, I spotted some interesting research about the role followers play in shaping leaders’ effectiveness.

So, here’s another book for my reading list: The New Psychology of Leadership, by S. Alexander Haslam and Stephen D. Reicher.  https://www.amazon.com/New-Psychology-Leadership-Identity-Influence/dp/1841696102

Winner of the University of San Diego Outstanding Leadership Book Award 2012. Shortlisted for the British Psychological Society Book Award 2011. Shortlisted for the CMI (Chartered Management Institute) Management Book of the Year Award 2011–2012.

The authors review historical and current psychologies of leadership in order to posit the need for a new one. Based on social identity.

Think of a leader to whom you (and your peers) have given your allegiance. To what extent can you relate to the following assertions, as a basis for your decision to follow?

This leader… is one of us… represents us… promotes our interests… creates a sense of “we”… helps us feel like we matter…

Such is the social identity psychology explored by Haslam and Reicher. And tested by Haslam and Kim Peters in a longitudinal study of leader and follower identity among 218 Royal Marines recruits.  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/gjop.12312

Analysis found — perhaps not surprisingly? — Recruits who self-identified as leaders received higher leadership ratings from their commanders. But — perhaps surprisingly? — Recruits who self-identified (and were perceived) as followers emerged as leaders for their peers.

Bottom line? To be a good leader, start by being a good follower.   https://hbr.org/2018/08/research-to-be-a-good-leader-start-by-being-a-good-follower

Consider these intriguing comments in the book’s Forward:

“… for the most part… leadership is all about the interaction between motivation and actions of the followers and the leaders — and that motivation is mediated by how those followers think of themselves… correspondingly, how they define their goals.”

“Leadership is not just about what leaders say and do; it is about what they say and do in the context of their followers’ willingness to identify as a we, who accordingly accept or reject what the leader wants them to do.”

What would the Apostle Paul have said about this? Or John? Or Peter? Or the Pharisees and Sadducees?

Arguably, Jesus Christ was/is the greatest leader ever. What agendas are advanced when we accept (or reject) Him? What personal (and cultural) contexts help or hinder us?

Jesus embodied whatever wisdom this study unearthed, long before it was conceived. Amen?

“… whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant… just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:28)

What practical wisdom can social identity psychology offer Christian business owners?

Not only as we lead our people, but as we hope to lead them to Jesus? 

Please post your comments below.

Diana Furr, a.k.a., Abba’s Girl

This blog may have raised questions for you. If you’d like to connect, engage, or get further help from me, you can… EMAIL me at [email protected]; CALL me at 863-446-1660; or request a complimentary initial CONSULT with me at https://calendly.com/diana-furr.

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