In the 1980s and early 90s, my work took me into a variety of organization cultures including the US Congress, emerging global democracies and large US and multinational corporations. These experiences provided grounding for my work over the next twenty-five years on how followers can positively influence their leaders use of power.
During the months of social distancing, I engaged in a retrospective of my contribution to this field, and of the growing community of scholars and educators who are developing its literature and practice.
This newly published book, A Celebration of Followership, has over 300 documents that show the reach of the subject into every aspect of culture in the US and globally. The narrative that accompanies the documents provides a compelling case for introducing followership theory and skills in leadership curricula and organization development programs.

I encourage those in this field to acquire a hard cover copy as a desktop reference and a library resource. It will inspire those entering the field to explore and build on the inroads that followership has already made.
For those who would like a copy for their personal use, from now through May 1st, I am arranging a “friends of the author” opportunity to purchase a soft cover copy at my own cost for the book. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can purchase a PDF edition.
For those of you whose interests and work don’t lend themselves to a deep dive into the subject, I invite you to read a brief article published by the International Leadership Association on followership as it applies to the world around us. Followership: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, examines the broad range of citizen behaviors before and after the US presidential election of 2020. These demonstrate the power of followership and its role in sustaining our commitment to representative democracy.
A great gift one can receive in the latter stages of a life’s work, is seeing younger professionals build on what has come before and enrich it with their own research and creativity. This is happening all around me in the field of followership. I would like to call out two examples.
Coming from the world of dance, my delightful colleague, Sharna Fabiano, has published her book Lead & Follow: The Dance of Inspired Teamwork. I was honored to be the guest speaker at her book launch. It is easy to understand that partner dancing is only graceful when the leader and follower work in creative unison. Sharna skillfully taps into her years of teaching Argentine tango to transfer those lessons to the consciousness needed in all our relationships. There is much to learn from this wise and gifted teacher.
Another impressive colleague, Dr. Wendy Edmonds, also launched her book this month, for which I wrote the foreword. When we explore leadership and followership, we cannot exclusively lift up the worthy examples. We must confront and seek to understand the dark side of these dynamics, which are too common in history and, yes, in our own contemporary time. Her book, InTOXICating Followership, is a deep analysis of the infamous Jonestown Massacre in which over 900 people died.
Rather than an historical accounting, this is an important contribution to detecting and dismantling dangerous leader-follower dynamics.
Lest it be thought that I live a one-dimensional life revolving solely around leader-follower dynamics, let me share my other year-of-COVID project: the publication of a collection of my selected poems of the last fifteen years. This is very much a reflection on the journey of life well lived and death well approached. If you are drawn to reflective poetry, it is an inexpensive book to order.

Whether or not that is your thing, you may want to spend a few minutes listening to one or two of these poems being read by the actor Stephen Macht. His sonorous voice lifts a poem from the page and offers it to your soul.
This is the beginning of the fourth year I have co-facilitated our local chapter (Northern Shenandoah Valley) of the national group Coming To The Table.
Descendants of enslavers and descendants of the enslaved, as well as others committed to deepening their understanding of racism, come together to uncover history, make connections, work towards healing and take action as needed. There are many organizations dedicated to this work. If you are seeking a way to engage in racial healing, I invite you to check out this site.
My talented team of executive coaches and workshop presenters are stirring to life with the coming of Spring. If we can be of help to you, let us know: www.exe-coach.com, www.irachaleff.com
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