This book by Ira Chaleff explores and analyzes the role of a follower. Too many a time leadership has been highlighted but this book uniquely shifts its focus to the follower. The author argues that following is often stigmatized, it is often perceived as docility, weakness or the failure to excel. This handbook shows that a courageous follower can be an enormous asset to a leader. It illustrates Chaleff’s confidence in the individual. The book talks about dynamics of interpersonal relationships that can be applied in everyday situations anywhere.
It identified five dimensions in which courage can be demonstrated: assuming responsibility, serving, challenging, participating in transformation and, given the worst-case scenario, leaving. What then is a courageous follower? A courageous follower understands that anything can happen in a fast-paced world thus contingency plan is always a necessity. He accepts that he holds a risky position and is able to speak and act the truth not compromising respect for individuals (Chaleff 2003).
One who is not afraid to work closely with other followers and one who dares to challenge existing practices but in a constructive and non-confrontational way (Chaleff 2003). The author purports that courage cannot lead to disobedience unless on special circumstances such as the preservation of life and the respect of the law are at stake. These exceptions are deemed important enough to supersede the human tendency to follow orders (Chaleff 2003). Becoming a courageous follower is not achievable overnight.
There is no shortcut to being partner to a leader. Courageous following is a two-way street. It takes a lot of openness and perceptiveness. Moreover, it takes passion for the job, initiative, buy-in, loyalty, trust, open mind and communication skills (Chaleff 2003). As relationship based on courage is grown, credibility is build. I would say courageous following should be practiced in our Department. Ours is a highly-charged working environment where preservation of life is the main goal.
It is but practical for a follower be he courageous or not to be able to respond – in a timely manner to certain situations that calls for contingency measures. But I believe everyone in the Department understands how risky the positions we hold are. In addition to this, there is always the truth part or the morality issue. It’s not only practical but I would say a necessity for anyone in the Department to espouse truth all the time. This goes for anyone regardless where they are working but ours seem to weigh more in peoples’ perception because we are in law enforcement and we are the law enforcers.
We serve and protect the law thus we are assumed to be lawfully and morally upright. This though is a perfect world scenario. Ours is hardly perfect. There are always faulty leaders and tempting situations that would challenge our commitment to truth. This is where being a courageous follower comes into play – speaking and acting the truth, daring to challenge conventions, practice, instructions or rules, always maintaining that certain degree of professionalism and respect for individuals.
The points raised in the book are generally applicable in almost all organizations. Being a courageous follower takes a lot of hard work and professionalism. It takes discipline and commitment. The leaving part of being a courageous follower given the worse causes can be impractical in a way. But in the end things will just boil down to one word – integrity. Work Cited Chaleff, Irah, (2003). The Courageous Follower: Standing up to and for our Leaders. Berrett- Koehler Publishers, 2nd Edition
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