The Art of Enlightened Followership

The Art of Enlightened Followership

The Leicester conference. Catch the Early Bird Deadline 5th March 2018

The Leicester conference

The media would have us believe that we need strong and stable leadership, or a version thereof. But do we? I think we have neglected to focus on the role of followership. Margaret Rioch in her paper, “All we like sheep”, said something that is as pertinent today as it was when she first said it:

“Leader” is a word which implies a relationship like father, son; mother, daughter, as opposed to words like “man ” or “girl”, which can stand more independently. Just as the word “son” does not have any sense without a parental word like “father” or “mother” implied in it, so the word “leader” does not have any sense without a word like “follower” implied in it. 

The interrelationships of followers and leaders are among the most significant of human relationships. In fact, most relationships can be looked at as variations on the theme of leadership-followership.”

Making space to inquire into the state and nature of our followership is what the 72nd Leicester Conference, Task Authority Organisation, aims to do. It takes place from 4 – 17 August 2018 at College Court, a four-star conference complex within the University of Leicester.

Our global context continues to draw to the surface the importance of global governance and the centrality of authority relations and there are many spaces to explore and develop our leadership, but not enough spaces to think about and develop our understanding of followership and how it is enacted.

The scholarly and pragmatic discourses of leadership have been very quiet on the role of the follower and the art of followership. I think it is of critical importance that we all find the space and time to think about the contributions that we are making to the development or the destruction of our social order.

But, in the cacophony of voices, attitudes, ideas and opinions, how do we find, and thoughtfully engage with, the impact that we have in the world in general, and our organisations and communities in particular?  It takes courage and a commitment to our personal and professional development to face our personal accountability for the “state we’re in”.

Two contributions from the recent 70th Anniversary Festival of the Tavistock Institute come to mind: firstly the “Democracy at Risk: How Group Relations Illuminates” session where Brazaitis, Noumair and Tye from Columbia University talked about Complicity.  The second, Ambient Jam, led by Entelechy Arts, where people of different abilities and backgrounds worked together, without words.

How do we work with our embodied selves, often wordlessly, to take up our roles? How do we move beyond blaming the “othered” leaders, and own our complicity or responsibility for actions in the systems we serve or live in?

The Leicester Conference is a 14-day experiential learning laboratory, a leadership intensive, which seeks to engage with these pressing issues. Come, and see what we can learn together, with a view to contributing more consciously to our back home contexts.

Apply online or contact Rachel Kelly, Pre Conference administrator: R.Kelly@Tavistinstitute.org

Catch the Early Bird Deadline 5th March 2018

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