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Leaders and Followers (Chapter 5 of Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy)

Leaders and Followers (Chapter 5 of Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy)

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Published by Rory Ridley Duff
Leaders and Followers is Chapter 5 of the book "Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy" published in November 2007. Adopting a highly unusual perspective on gendered power, the chapter uses case studies to explore "top-down" and "bottom-up" leadership, and the impact of followers on leadership behaviour.
Leaders and Followers is Chapter 5 of the book "Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy" published in November 2007. Adopting a highly unusual perspective on gendered power, the chapter uses case studies to explore "top-down" and "bottom-up" leadership, and the impact of followers on leadership behaviour.

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Published by: Rory Ridley Duff on Feb 22, 2009
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09/30/2012

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© Rory Ridley-Duff, 2006 Publisher Manuscript
Chapter 5
 –
Leaders and Followers
Introduction
 As a businessperson, I am no Richard Branson. Nor do I want to be. Idid, however, get a few surprises when I was reading books onentrepreneurship during 2003. It seems that we have four things incommon.
 
Each of our first business ventures failed
 
Neither of us was discouraged from trying again
 
 We both have „balanced‟ left/right brain activity 
 
 
 We are both men
I suspect that the comparison pretty much ends there. Branson, as weall know, is a billionaire
my own worth is a very tiny faction of his.I have no idea, however, how much wealth I have generated for others butif it was measured, it is likely to be considerable. He has always beenincredibly good at getting publicity. I do not much like publicity, althougha bit of recognition does not go amiss. He has (or claims) little interest inpolitics
if his performances on
Question Time
are anything to go by.I have had a lifelong fascination with political processes, even though Idecided 15 years ago to have no further involvement with political parties.Undoubtedly, you have encountered Richard Branson indirectly through his products. You have probably travelled on Virgin airlines ortrains, bought Virgin cola, or visited Virgin superstores. You will neverhave heard of me, but perhaps I also have touched your life. Perhaps you,or a friend or relative had cancer and they needed to find a local supportgroup? Or perhaps you were involved in, or benefited from, one of thethousands of Millennium Projects? Maybe you are deaf, or have a friendor relative who is deaf, who called the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID)? Or you were down on your luck once, and were housed by the Housing Services Agency (HAS), or lived in sheltered accommodation
run by the National Children‟s Home (NCH), or recovered in a Drink 
Crisis Centre? Maybe you booked onto one of the thousands of seminars,courses or conferences run by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) or the Careers Research Advisory Services (CRAC)?If you did any of these, then I have touched your life.
ichard Branson‟s fame I can live without but his fortune is tempting!
None of the above projects paid so well that I could take up the hobby of travelling around the world in a hot air balloon. And yet, when I reflect onthings, I would gladly forego his fortune if the price was the loss of the lifethat I have led. Many years ago, it dawned on me that I could not improveon the pleasure of an intimate chat in the pub with good friends or withmy wife, children and family over the dinner table.Lest you think me a moral person, my involvement working in thesocial economy was not motivated by a sense of charity 
I believe in
 
2 Emotion, Seduction and Intimacy© Rory Ridley-Duff, 2006 Publisher Manuscript
trading for a living, both for myself and others. But somehow, after two years of working at Procter & Gamble, it was not a difficult decision tostop committing my time to the manufacture of shampoo and crisps (niceas these things are) and use my time doing something I found more worthwhile.The reason I tell you all this, is that most people would considerRichard Branson far more powerful (and influential) than me. In one way 
this is true. In another way it is false. Both “power” and “leadership” are
terms that have been redefined over the last 40 years by the gendermovement. In place of the idea that power is control or influence overothers, firstly women
and now men
are redefining it as power overtheir own lives (including their working lives). Richard Branson may feelthat he has power over
his own
life, but I would not take this for granted.The quotation below is long, but because it had such a big impact on my thinking when I first read it in 1995, I present it at length and thank theauthor for their permission
1
. I cannot read this story without choking withemotion so let us see what impact it has on you:
Ralph was a forty-one-
year old man in our men’s group. He was married, the fathe
of two children. He had been in the group for three months, and had hardly said aword. One evening he look 
ed up and said, “I think I’d like to speak up tonight. I’m
afraid I joined this group only because my wife forced me to. She got involved in one
of these women’s movement operations and started changing. She called it ‘growing’. About three months ago she said, ‘Ralph, I’m tired of having to choosebetween a relationship with you and a relationship with myself.’ Pretty fancy rhetoric, I thought. Then she added, “There’s a men’s group forming that’s meetingnext Tuesday. Why don’t you get involved?” 
 
ell, I kind of laughed her off. But a week later she started again. ‘The group’smeeting next Tuesday. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not doing some changing inthree months, that’s the end!” 
 
“’The end! For the sake of a men’s group?” I asked.
 
“It’s
 
symbolic, Ralph,” she said.
 
“So I figured I’d join this symbol and see what you fags were talking about! But the problem was, you didn’t fit my image, and I began identifying with some of the
things you were saying. Well, anyway, last night Ginny reminded me the three
months were up tomorrow. So I think I’d like to speak up tonight.” 
 
We laughed at Ralph’s motivation, but encouraged him to continue.
 
“Well, what struck me was how each of you chose different careers, but you all 
worried about succeeding. Even you, Jim
– 
 
even though you’re unemployed and have
a laid-
back facade. That started me thinking about my career.” 
 
“All my life I wanted to play baseball. As a pro. When I was a sophomore in high
school I was pretty hot stuff, and my uncle came and scouted me. Later he said,
‘Ralph, you’re good. Damn good. And you might make it to the pros if you really 
work at it. But only the best make good money for a long time. If you really want to
1
Excerpt from Warren Farrell,
Why Men Are the Way they Are 
(N.Y.: Berkley Books, 1988),pp. 3-11. Permission granted by Warren Farrell: www.warrenfarrell.com. 
 
Leaders and Followers 3© Rory Ridley-Duff, 2006 Publisher Manuscript
be good to yourself, make use of your intelligence, get yourself a good job
– 
one you
can depend on for life.” 
 
“I was surprised when my folks agreed with him. Especially Dad. Dad always called me ‘Ralph, who pitched the no
-
hitter.’ Dad stopped calling me that after that 
conversation. Maybe that turned the tide
 for me.” Ralph hesitated, as if he were
 piecing something together, but he quickly withdrew from his introspection.
“Anyway, I was proud of myself for making the transition like a man. I’d always liked reading and learning, but just hadn’t focused much o
n it. But I figured just for a
couple of years I’d ‘play the system’: borrow friends’ old term papers, take a look at 
old exams, focus my reading on the questions different teachers tended to ask, and 
so on. I never cheated. I just figured I’d ‘play the
 
system’ for a couple of years, raise
my grades, then when I got into college, I could really learn
– 
I could do what I
wanted after that.” 
 
“Well, ‘playing the system’ worked. I got into a top
-notch university. But it soonbecame apparent that a lot of people graduated from good universities
– 
if I wanted 
to really stand out it would help to ‘play the system’ just a few more years, get into a
good grad school or law school, and then, once I did that, I could do with my life what I wanted after that.
“I de
cided on law school 
– 
but to become a social-work lawyer, so I could make a real contribution to people who most needed it. But about my second or third year of law school 
– 
 
when my colleagues saw I was taking what they called this ‘missionary law’ 
seriously, they explained that if I really wanted to be effective as a social-work 
lawyer, I’d better get some experience first in the hard 
-knocks, reality-based field of corporate law rather than ease into the namby-pamby area of social-work law right away 
– 
if 
I didn’t I wouldn’t get the respect to be effective. Frankly, that made sense.
So I joined a top corporate law firm in New York. I knew I could work there for acouple of years, and then really do what I wanted with my life after that.
“After a couple
of years in the firm, I was doing well. But the whole atmosphere of the corporate legal community made it clear that if I dropped out after two years it 
would be seen as a sign that I couldn’t hack the pressure. If I continued for just a
couple more years, and became a junior partner 
– 
junior partners were the onesmarked with potential 
– 
then I could really do what I wanted with my life after that.
“Well, it took me seven years to get the junior partnership offered to me – 
with politics and everything. But I got it. By that time I had lost some of the desire to be asocial-work lawyer 
– 
it was considered a clear step backward. In other ways Imaintained that ideal 
– 
it seemed more meaningful than kowtowing to rich money.But I also knew the switch would mean forfeiting a lot of income. My wife Ginny and I had just bought a new home
– 
which we pretty much had to do with two kids
– 
and 
I knew they’d be going to college…..Ginny’s income was only part 
-time now, and shewas aching to travel a bit.
“By that 
time, I also realized that while junior partners had potential, the people withthe real ins in the legal community were not the junior partners, but the senior  partners. I figured I had a pretty big investment in the corporate law area now 
– 
if I just stuck it out for a couple more years, I could get a senior partnership, get a little
money saved for the kids’ education and travel, and 
then
I could really do with my 
life what I wanted….” 
 
“It took me eight more years to get the senior partnership. I can
remember my boss
calling me into the office and saying, ‘Ralph, we’re offering you a senior partnership.” 

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