Balancing Followership and Leadership

In recent times, we have all been confronted with choices about the degree to which we follow the ‘guidance’/rules set down by the government regarding for example the ‘stay home’ policy. Within that, we will all have had to make choices about where and when we needed to show leadership – whether because of the role we have in business or the role we have in the community or indeed our family. Leadership that maybe navigates the less clear aspects of the guidance and rules. When and why is it OK for rules to be broken?

This highlights a deeper question related to our own maturity and evolution as well as our own regard for others. Within this, there are many paradoxes that need to be explored. For example, rules, laws, and the like are put in place to help citizens and members of a group or community to codify an agreed set of behaviours that advance the progress toward ‘civilisation’. The more that a group, at whatever level, adheres to the rules the less conflict tends to occur. At the same time, the more dependence and stifling of creativity can set in.

We need to have provocations and polarised perspectives to enable growth toward something better otherwise a perspective risks becoming crystallised and lacking in inclusivity and diversity. This is where real civilisation and real progress come to life – when we are able to have a set of ‘rules’ and yet keep the discussion open to enable those rules to be changed and developed or even abandoned.

This is where the balance between leadership and followership becomes a dynamic tension that should be alive in each and every one of us. Knowing when to follow and when to lead. When to support the collective and when to bring a different perspective and to show a different pathway. However, as well as the ‘when’ there is the question of the ‘how’.

Knowing when it’s the right time to challenge a rule or some aspect of agreed behaviour has to be supported with the right motivation behind it for it to advance the group. This is about behaviour and a purpose that are in support of the growth and betterment of the whole.

Anyone can simply flout the rules for their own personal reasons and may well have justifiable reasons for doing so. Leadership, though, sometimes requires us to comply for a while until we’ve worked out how to share the pathway for a different, maybe more nuanced or ambiguous, or self-determining policy to be brought in.

We all want the freedoms of self-leadership and as we know any leadership comes with responsibility and sometimes that may be the responsibility of following.


Lorraine Flower
Lorraine Flower
As a Corporate change agent, consultant, coach and mentor Lorraine founded azzur and is completely transparent about the spiritual principles on which it operates. Alongside her 18 years as azzur’s founder, Lorraine brings 20 years' service industry experience to bear through her senior leadership roles at British Airways (BA) and Great North Eastern Railway (GNER). It is Lorraine's belief in individual and organisational power for good that gives azzur its raison d'etre. azzur and Lorraine specifically has worked with clients across the business spectrum from financial services, to retail and transport to healthcare an in both the public and private sectors. azzur is focused on developing contemporary, spirited leadership capability, and organisations built on inspiring purpose, empowering cultures and a powerful vision and values. She is championing new models of leadership and organisational development founded on the principles of conscious leadership and writes extensively on these topics.She is a member of a number of global spiritual groups and communities serving the greater good of Humanity and the planet. She works and studies extensively in developing and exploring conscious leadership believing that business leaders are key players in transforming the well-being of the planet and humanity as a whole.

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