We have learnt already from in our travels through the Leadership Universe that it is made up of three reciprocally interdependent, influencing and integrated Relational Spheres: Leader(ship) in relationship to Self (Sphere 1); Others (Sphere 2); and World (Sphere 3). This stop-over deals with the Others (Sphere 2), the Middle Sphere of Leadership Universe. This sphere resolves around the relationship of leadership with stakeholders who have to be turned into followers with respect to a shared, desired future and destiny.
However, sadly leadership is predominantly glorified and romanticised in the popular press, and even the academic leadership literature, at the expense of followers who are shunted to the side line as of lesser importance. Sometimes followers are treated even as mere expendable pawns in the game played by leadership as the ‘arrogant’ chess masters.
This is a significant oversight with real, dire consequences. Leadership cannot exclusively be understood from the vantage point of leadership only. Any relationship is made up of two parties, like in this case, leadership and followers. No followers, no leadership. As an African proverb states: “A king is a king through the people”. Hence leadership must understand themselves and their followers equally well. The true strength in leadership is in the ‘Us’, not in the ‘Me’.
In the final instance leadership excellence is the combined, synergistic outcome of leadership – the ‘flame’; followers – the’ combustible material’; and followership – the ‘oxygen’.