Albus Dumbledore and Followership

I am honored and excited to be working with Dr. Marty Krovetz to introduce the concepts of courageous followership to 8th graders at Renaissance Academy Middle School in East Side San Jose. Marty is the co-author (with Gary S. Bloom) of the book Powerful Partnerships: A Handbook for Principals Mentoring Assistant Principals published by Corwin Press. Marty devotes a chapter in the book to “Leader-Follower Relations”, drawing on The Courageous Follower.

Marty, himself a former principal, is consulting to the Renaissance Academy. Twice a year, each student is assigned to do a research paper on a topic they or their teacher assigns. This year the theme is equality of schooling. The students in this heavily Latino district compared the resources available to them (such as computer labs) with those available to students in more affluent districts and were stunned at the scope of the differences. They recognized the disadvantage at which this put them and have organized into groups to address the situation. This is a lesson in active citizenry and the students are rising to the occasion with intelligence and determination.

As part of their preparation for how to optimize their work groups, and how to deal with authorities who can redress this imbalance, Marty is exposing them to the basic principles of courageous followership. He has used a slide show that I prepared for another wonderful group of students from LeadAmerica. Here is an excerpt Emily Spacek, one of the Renaissance Academy students, wrote on her blog in response to his presentation.

“(Dr. Krovetz) told us about the five behaviors of a courageous follower: someone who supports the leader, will question the leader, participates in change, is ethical, and takes initiative. Why do these behaviors require courage?  It takes courage to speak up and offer suggestions, questions, and get involved. It takes courage to support leaders who are trying to do their jobs even if you would do things differently, and it also takes courage to respectfully disagree and offer suggestions. ‘It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies. But it takes an even greater deal to stand up to our friends.’ These are the words of the wise Hogwarts headmaster, Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Dr. Krovetz must know what he is talking about if he and Dumbledore are on the same page.”

I told you I was honored to be in this company.

–Ira Chaleff

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