The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Rockefeller Leadership Fellows Host Kellerman for First Session

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 Barbara Kellerman, the James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, discussed concepts from her most recent publications in the inaugural session of the 2010-2011 Rockefeller Leadership Fellows (RLF) program.  

They included what she considers to be “the social disease of bad leadership” and the idea of followership.  After encouraging fellows not to take a leader-centric approach to the conversation, but rather judge individuals based on the whole picture, Kellerman outlined the characteristics of bad leaders and briefly discussed what can be done about them.  She went on to note that bad leaders cannot exist without bad followers and expanded on the theory of followership.   

According to Kellerman, although it does not receive as much attention as it deserves in the field of leadership studies, the consideration of followers is highly significant.  As technology and communication tools improve, followers are becoming increasingly powerful while leaders are declining in influence and importance.  The session concluded with a discussion of George Orwell’s short story Shooting an Elephant in relation to leadership and decision making.

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