Followership: The Evolution of a Leader
The theme of the 2014 Leadership Conference at the US Naval Academy was “Followership: The Evolution of a Leader.” Elements of the entire brigade of 4500 midshipmen attended the program as well as delegations from 60 other universities, including many of the most prestigious in the nations. The program consisted of two days of notable keynotes, three panels and small group discussions on key questions.
The panel on which I served was titled “Ethics: The Leader, The Follower and The Organization.” The program description of the panel asked the questions: “What responsibilities does the follower have to ‘lead from below’ when defining ethical guidelines in business, warfare or politics? How does a follower toe the ethical hardline when a leader vacillates?”
My fellow panelists included a Navy Seal, a CIA consultant, a former Ambassador and a pilot charged with defending the Capitol on 9-11. The real life experience of this panel truly warrants the description of awesome and their individual wisdom was impressive.
My hats off to the young midshipmen who chose the theme of this year’s conference. In addition to the Naval Academy, 60 other military academies and top tier universities sent their representatives. I look forward to these ideas taking firm root as this generation of courageous leaders and followers rise in responsibility and service. It is deeply gratifying to see one’s life work enter the fabric of such institutions.