In Chapter 6 Barrett continues by talking about the need for both leadership and "followership" in order for an organization to allow improvisation and (therefore innovation) to truly succeed. He says that "innovative breakthroughs are far more likely to result from social relationships, from conversations and dialogues between diverse groups with divergent skills, than they are from individual strokes of genius." As a result it takes deep generous listening by people within an organization to allow for different ideas to emerge and to nurture the potential in each other. Relational breakthroughs, therefore, occur through leading and supporting (by allowing other's potential to arise too).
Barrett continues that in organizations it is necessary to nurture leading and followership as a way of creating a "mutuality structure that guarantees participation, inclusion, and shared ownership." It also allows for new ideas to emerge from people who may traditionally have a silenced voice. He says that, "recent research on collective intelligence shows that when people are listened to deeply, groups themselves become more articulate and brilliant." This might mean not just listening to them, but also challenging them sometimes to get on track, wake up, and/or give them ideas which may get them unstuck. Finally he says that being much more sensitive to the collective good can help the whole organization.
In essence Barrett describes the importance of "followership" almost as a way to coach others to their brilliance. While a typical leader is often portrayed out front, he argues that it takes a unit, a collective, and a back and forth of leading and coaching others to step up to truly make an innovative organization.
Where can you follow or coach others to live up to their potential? When can you employ deep listening as a generous way to open up new potential ways of looking at a problem? How can you give space to others to brainstorm or open up new possibilities in the organization in order for the collective to become stronger?
Monica Thakrar has over 18 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.