FOLLOWERSHIP IN THE YEAR OF OUR DISCONTENT
Ira Chaleff Publications - Logo
September 15, 2020 - In this issue:
COVID-19, Race and Followership
Congress and the Corona Virus
Website teachingfollowerscourage.com
Teaching Followership to Students
Excecutive Coaching
Intelligent Disobedience and the Preservation of Democratic Norms
A Personal Note 
COVID 19, RACE AND FOLLOWERSHIP
Followership is filling the world leadership void, at times brilliantly, at times with problematic consequences. It is a reminder that followership, like leadership, can be beneficial or produce harm. Values are the determinant. Where life, tolerance, dignity and accountability are central, the followership lifts us up. Where these are weak or absent, the worst crowd behaviors prevail.

Human history is filled with experience of pandemics and the learned behaviors to limit their toll. In a documentary made years ago, I learned that in the 1600s in England, when plague was rife, merchants were required to leave their goods outside the town walls for two weeks before bringing them inside. In a book, also written years ago, I read that in the 1830s, ships needed to anchor for two weeks without sign of contagious disease before crew and passengers were allowed to disembark. In the devastating 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, we see photos of crowds masked. Do the above historical precedents seem familiar? Given the widespread availability of antibiotics and, to a lesser degree, antivirals, we forgot these lessons. Responsible followership requires good information and a knowledge of context.

Race relations and injustice in the United States is a somewhat different matter. Despite the abolition movements of the early 1800s, the civil war, amendments to the constitution, mass civil rights movements and legislation, the underlying structure of racism has continued to undermine the values of a just society. We haven’t forgotten what we once knew. We never learned what we should have. Epigenetics, the physical transmission of trauma, generation to generation, has played a part. So has the dominant culture interpreting and teaching history. The economic advantage of whiteness has blinded us, willfully or not, to the disadvantage created for others. We are at a crossroads. You may find my published article, Racism and the Bystander of value.
CONGRESS AND THE CORONA VIRUS
As chair emeritus of the non-partisan, non-profit Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) I am proud of its efforts to support our democratic institutions during these trying times.

CMF has issued a timely and well researched report: Corona Virus, Congress and Constituent Communications. The report begins with this observation:
Throughout our nation’s history, crises have transformed society and upended daily life. From wars, to terrorist attacks, to natural disasters, Americans have been forced to adapt how we travel, communicate, and work. … While we are currently in flux, the COVID-19 crisis is offering (or forcing) new opportunities for Congress, citizens, and the groups that represent them to consider how to build new tools and systems for democratic communication. These systems hold the promise of improving and maybe redefining the most important relationship in our republic: that between the governed and the governing.
TEACHING FOLLOWERS COURAGE COMMUNITY
Under the stewardship of my colleague Alain De Sales in Melbourne, Australia, we have launched a resource site for educators and trainers who have taken my Courageous Follower Train-the-Trainer program, and others who incorporate courageous followership in their curriculum.

Alain de Sales
This includes several of my colleagues who have been conducting courageous leading and following workshops on site and now online.
Claudia de Castro Caldeirinha
David Grau
Basil Read
TEACHING FOLLOWERSHIP TO STUDENTS
I was thrilled to contribute the foreword to New Directions for Student Leadership: Followership Education by my colleagues, Marc Hurwitz and Rachel Thompson. As I stated in the foreword, this book could not have been written ten years ago as we did not have sufficient experience on what is required to teach followership well. It is more challenging than teaching leadership as the cultural biases against being a follower need to be effectively explored and transformed.
Once the student understands that follower is not a personality type, but rather a role they play in many situations, learning can begin. The powerful range of responsibilities and skills of followership can then be developed and integrated. At the same time, their leadership skills are enhanced by increased awareness of how to fully partner with and benefit from exemplary followership.
EXECUTIVE COACHING
As organizations find their footing in the new economic environment shaped by responses to the Corona Virus epidemic, requests are renewing for executive coaching services. Nearly all of this coaching is done on-line. I am grateful to continue to have the talented team of coaches to respond to these requests. Now, more than ever, the diversity of their backgrounds brings added value to our clients. www.exe-coach.com
INTELLIGENT DISOBEDIENCE AND
THE PRESERVATION OF DEMOCRATIC NORMS
This newsletter is going to press while there is considerable anxiety in the US, and by extension the world, regarding the process and outcome of the upcoming presidential election. For the first time in our history, doubt has been sowed about the reliability of our election results and the commitment to honor them. The fragility of democracy, which was well known to the drafters of the US Constitution, is on display.
While there are many institutional safeguards, ultimately all systems rely on the commitment of the individuals working at the points of vulnerability to do the right thing.
At times, this requires disobedience to illegal or harmful orders. For those who see a need for the principles of intelligent disobedience to be instilled in their environments, my book may be a valuable resource.
A PERSONAL NOTE
I am aware that self-quarantining has been a mental hardship for many people. I am grateful that, at this stage of my life, my home is in the Blue Ridge mountains giving quarantine a beautiful setting. Of course, I am not completely isolated as there are many visitors.