ABA Banking Journal - July/August 2017 - 28
> LEADERSHIP LAB
There's No 'I'
Effective leadership takes more than one individual's vision
and abilities-it requires a group of active followers.
BY BRIAN NIXON
he role of a leader is traditionally thought of as a
solitary position, exemplified by the cliché that "it's
lonely at the top." But such a view is both long in the
tooth and incorrect. Leadership is a team sport.
This collaborative approach-with a team guided,
coached and motivated by a leader-is espoused by John
Kanengieter, a senior fellow with the Wharton School at
the University of Pennsylvania's. He is also part of the
new ABA-Wharton CEO Leadership Lab, a product of
the ABA and Wharton partnership that premiered in May
The Leadership Lab is designed to provide bank presidents
and CEOs with the knowledge and expertise needed to
address the realities of leadership in today's dynamic
banking and business environment. The program's faculty
members have in-depth experience working directly with
leading companies and policy makers around the world.
Kanengieter, for example, has worked with both NASA
and International Space Station crews on building and
enhancing leadership in team-based environments.
Lessons for everyone
"A lot of professionals don't associate leadership with their
jobs," Kanengieter says. "What I would say is leadership is
happening all the time regardless of what profession you're
in-whether you're a Space Shuttle commander or a team
leader in the branch of a bank, let alone the president.
Leadership is always happening."
Just as important, he adds, is that leadership "doesn't just
reside in a person. Leadership is also an action."
Kanengieter suggests viewing leadership as a dynamic
system that encompasses a group of people working to
achieve a particular goal. Any team member within that
ABA BANKING JOURNAL | JULY/AUGUST 2017
system can provide elements of leadership. "Even the most
junior members of a team can be leaders," he says.
This latter point-that anyone can meaningfully contribute
to a team's leadership-speaks to what Kanengieter calls
"followership." While most teams still need and rely on
someone in charge-where the buck stops-the contributions
of other team members are important in the achievement
of a goal.
"[There are] thousands and thousands of books on leadership,
but very few on the concept of followership," says Kanengieter.
He breaks leadership and teams into various components
that include the designated leader and active followers, team
members who support and help make the designated leader
powerful. "The active follower questions and challenges the
View leadership as a dynamic
system that encompasses a group
of people working to achieve a
particular goal. Any team member
within that system can provide
elements of leadership.