Can There Be Leadership Without Followership?

Issue 8 and Volume 160.

THERE HAS BEEN A GREAT DEAL OF DISCUSSION and focus on leadership in the fire service lately. It seems as if everyone wants to be a leader of some sort. Most officer development programs emphasize leadership and management skills, and officer candidates are commonly evaluated on their ability to lead others. Clearly, the ability to lead others and manage the daily operations is critical to an effective fire officer. THE ROLE OF FOLLOWERSHIP But what about followership? One thing is for sure in our business: Everyone has a boss. Even the chief answers to someone, be it the mayor, the county administrator, or a board of directors. Every level of the organization reports to someone. There was a time when I struggled to even utter the word “follower,” as if it somehow was taboo in our culture. I guess it’s the take-care-of-business mindset we’re programmed with in the academy that…

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