Rise of the Follower
As we enter 2017, the dynamic between leader and follower is playing out in a very challenging way, all across the world, but particularly striking in the USA.
Women in the USA are taking up their authority and challenging what they experience as an all too enduring, outdated misogyny. Many men are joining the cry for change in gender relations, however, some men fear the swing of the sword of misandry which may be out to castrate them in vengeance. In between these two extremes we find a population of followers and leaders wrestling with how they can find, make and take their roles sensitively, and leave room for new relationships to emerge between the sexes in our workplaces.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review talks about the nature of the assumptions that are held in organisations and how, despite best efforts, we all fall prey to them. They cite, “Edith Cooper, the global head of human capital management at Goldman Sachs, shared her experience: “People frequently assumed I was the most junior person in the room, when in fact, I was the most senior. I constantly needed to share my credentials when nobody else had to share theirs.” Because of deeply localised assumptions, teams inadvertently perpetuate the status quo and marginalise women in daily interactions. On their own, these interactions are imperceptible; in aggregate, they are exhausting to anyone of difference in an organisation.
What they are describing is relatedness: the ideas held in mind about an individual or group that affects how we treat them in our relationships. The 71st Tavistock Institute Leicester Conference, provides a safe space for members of the conference, to get under the surface of their assumptions and to identify how these are not just personal, but are located in the groups to which we belong. The title Task Authority Organisation (TAO of Tavistock) – Presence in Absence: IN & OUT @ Work, hints at the embedded nature of identity in our workplaces and how complex it is to name and address difference. At a time when countries are beginning to ban members of other countries, this work is more urgent than ever…. and we can handle them lightly, almost playfully.
How do we live together? How do we work through our differences and reveal the different pictures we hold in mind about each other? This is an ancient task, first set for us in the West by Socrates, and the Tavistock Institute has been addressing this every year since 1957 in the Leicester Conference. Contemporarily, how far can we take non-binary and intersectional realities in our organisations?
Now is a crucial time for leaders with an interest in working with and through the complexity of maintaining sanity in our interconnected world. We are expecting a global gathering, for a riveting exploration! The £700 Early Bird discount is still available and early applications are encouraged as together we create the temporary institution able to contain, play and explore difference and how it shapes leadership and followership.
Leicester Conference Director 2017
More information about the conference can be found here.
For a brochure, please contact Rachel Kelly:
t: +44 (0)20 7457 3927
Picture by Jane Evans, daughter of A K Rice, Tavistock Institute pioneer of Group Relations conference methodology.