Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Second Lemming Over The Cliff ...






... "FOLLOWERSHIP"

Next month I'm giving a talk on board leadership in hard times. Preparing it got me thinking about "followership"; that of course led to the lemming and forgive me, nonprofit boards. ... Why - when the first adorable little lemming went over the cliff - did all the other adorable little lemmings follow? (Supposedly). I guess the first one had an instinctive, uncontrollable urge. But didn't the second one have a choice? (Probably not - but then no blog). ... The second lemming is my metaphor for followership - instinct over reason.

I have always smugly defined leadership as the ability to see things before others do and act accordingly because that's been my style. But what if you're wrong and everyone else follows? Yikes! What if the first guy in the Tour De France misses a turn (it's happened)? The photo above illustrates if you're not the leader the view never changes. When or when not to follow? Take Wall Street: During this Great Recession huge fortunes were made by betting against the herd. Oops. Many also lost.

The nonprofit board is a textbook example of second-lemming behavior. Few can be characterized as decisive in the best of times: we who serve them or serve on them know it takes forever for otherwise sharp-edged business people who in their day jobs move mountains and money to say yes or no. Plumed dukes of capital who've been shorting Greece and Portugal the last two days can't okay a five million dollar budget or whether the centerpieces at the benefit are to be yellow (ick) or red. Meanwhile management just stares into the headlights. Exceptions to second-lemming behavior oft abound in founder-dominated organizations. "FOF's" populate the boards and the founder basically does as s/he wishes. Once in awhile a founder (or strong-willed time-entrenched CEO to which this also applies) will beg for forgiveness rather than ask for permission.

So my new thought about leadership is to
take away the cliffs.






3 comments:

mbancel said...

Nice. But what about the third, fourth and "n"th lemmings? Without cliffs, there is still trampling.

李0825juanherzberg said...

我從來不認為不同意我的看法就是冒犯..............................

Elvi107sS_Scholten0 said...

青春一逝不復返,事業一失難有成。.............................................