I, The Absolute

Archive for July 8th, 2005


Posted by itheabsolute on July 8, 2005

Prof Raju mentioned that he had asked his friend and our Strategy tutor Prof. Harbir Singh on why the Strategy discipline always focuses on Leadership and not followership. Brilliant. All I needed to think further was the idea.

Given a situation, there is only one leader, there are many followers. Why cannot we prepare people to be good followers? Following is not about imitating or blindly going behind some one. A follower can have his own set of rules. He can position himself in such a fashion such that people around can relate to him.

This happens in business. Some companies consciously decide to build their strategy, positioning and advertising around the concept that they are number two*, not number one.

Also, a leader is nothing without proper follwership. Followers, thus, are as much a part of the success or revolution that a leader may bring. Hanuman was a great follower; but he created a niche for himself and is treated as a great Hero/god. PV Narasimha Rao was the leader who had the guts to initiate tough economic reforms when Indian was in doldrums in 1991; but his follower, Dr. Manmohan Singh, being the executioner, is remembered as the architect of the economic regeneration. He thus created an image for himself.

Followership is not about losing; it is about finding one’s own unique reasons to perform and contribute; it is about finding one’s own niche to operate from.


1. Today, Prof Raju was at his best. We had a case analysis. The perspectives and analyses he used to unravel the complexities in the case were just too brilliant. Nirvana!

2. When I first wrote about Prof Raju, I wrote about his ability to kindle interest and enthusiasm amongst students to think further. I think he is doing this job quite brilliantly.

* Read “Positioning” by Al Ries and Jack Trout for further gyan on this number two business.

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