My journals in general don't link up too much with the readings as I previously stated that the ideological world of the theory is not aligned with my perceived reality. I refuse to link up bits and pieces from the theory in order to satiate the demand for reflection based on the readings etc. But once in a while, you come across readings that resonate with your actions and you attach significant importance to these matters. We all have read hundreds of quotes and words on what makes a good leader and more often than not, we end up with a list of words that is so encompassing that it removes the very idea of a singular leader. So, I applied the very same idea to what makes a good follower? Not surprisingly, the words cover all sorts of personality types and scenarios. This evocative language of leader and follower is misleading, as they are terms that describe an act in time, more so than a permanent ideal for an individual. By this I mean that people we classify as leaders tend to negotiate situations from an internally directed approach, whereas followers act on that direction. But I have found this is not the case all the time, where we have moments when the followers are dictating terms in order to negotiate the situation at hand and in that period of time, are in fact leading the group. Leaders are good at following which in turn makes them good leaders because they understand the nature of following. An analogy is always handy to explain social phenomenon in a short time period. How can you sell me oranges if you have never tasted one? If you have never tasted the feeling of being a follower, what is feels like to take direction, what it is like to do things that you may disagree with but must in order for the betterment of the group, how do you effectively lead the group?
This analogy is simplified one that really questions the merits of leadership based on their experience taking directions. I think the best leaders are those that are fluid between the leader and follower role. Let the idea prevail, allow the power of the logic and reasoning prevail over titles and predetermined positions. More often than not, we judge the idea based on the position it is uttered from within an organization. How we are amazed at the janitor solving math problems on a chalkboard in Good Will Hunting (although fictitious, it evokes similar psychological tricks)? The readings take a more organized approach to this and state the importance of following by alluding to the dangers of too many leaders (Kelly, 1988). We all want our opinions heard and appreciated but the reality of society is that some opinions are based on garbage and others on meticulous thought. Having leaders pop up everywhere that are not weeded through a system that debases the garbage can be dangerous and harmful for societal structure. The readings allude to the fact that some learn how to lead through the process of following which resonated with me (Kelly, 1988). This idea of learning how to lead is not well understood, where some take the formal structures of leadership ( position name, giving orders and bigger office etc) as the characteristics required; others posit that leaders are those that follow their group entirely and move them forward together. This distinction is not made in the readings where the mass media of today only looks to imply leadership through the formal structures and I feel the importance of rationale and logic is falling behind the suit, the office and the car.
Now, when we look at the group of volunteers, I am assuming that group had no leader. The decisions they made in order to be honest about the selection process was to place all of themselves together in one group and then attach the individual with the highest SHV alongside them. To me, this statistical anomaly can be overlooked, but wash't by the class and maybe rightly so. To my defence, their could not have been a more accurate representation of the reality of the the world outside the protected screens of Mikes Bikes. First they placed all the individuals under 25SHV together to deal with things on their own and then went on to 'place' the individual with the most resources (SHV is a resource for marks in this case) with themselves. This is a mirror of our society where the poor are left to deal with things on their own and the powerful are able to negotiate the pathway using tools at their disposal. I think it is a rather optimum case of reflecting reality but its interesting to note who took charge of this flat group of volunteers and who followed orders. BUT- after reading the journals of the volunteers and realizing that their defence involved 'honest intentions' was in bad taste. I have no trouble with people making mistakes or doing things to alleviate the competitive pressure but to turn around and claim modesty and honesty is just asking to be ridiculed. At least admit to the tactic and move forward as my group has NO negative feelings towards the volunteers whatsoever as we seem them as individuals who had the ability to get ahead and they did at the cost of honesty. Deep down we all know that in the real world with real money on the line, most of us will give ourselves the best chance and if that means doing what the volunteers did, then so be it.
But I will not turn around and claim modesty and honest intentions if that is the case. Part of being a good leader is to admit to tactics that may be considered 'bitter' for some but that is not in the readings and I hope the readings reflect the state of leaders we have today and not some idealogical figure that doesn't exist.
Knights, D and Wilmott, H. (2012) Introducing Organisational Behaviour and Management. (2nd edition). London: Thomson Learning.
Kelley, R. E. (1988). In praise of followers. Harvard Business Review, 66(6), 142—148
Spreier, S. W., Fontaine, M. H., & Malloy, R. L. (2006). Leadership run amok. Harvard Business Review, 84(6), 72—82