Followership is personal to us because we used to be bad at it (Marc worse than Samantha, but it impacted both of us). At a crucial time in our corporate careers, the realization that followership was important, meaningful, and developable had a profound impact. Because of this, we had a burning design to grow awareness of followership and have people acknowledge and appreciate its equal importance and value to leadership. This is not only true for careers. We also realized that it is only when all of us recognize the equal value of followership that we can have truly egalitarian organizations, where “leaders” aren’t lauded, they are just fulfilling a (valuable) role, the same as everyone. And that everyone takes on a leading role and a following role from time to time.
Fast forward a decade later, after we attended too many leadership conferences where followership was an afterthought or even a never-thought.
After a number of attempts, we realized the only way to bring the message of followership as an equal partner to leadership was to create more space for the idea. So, we decided to create a followship-focused conference. It was a huge effort, but in 2019 we hosted the first Global Followership Conference to build and develop momentum.
Over 130 people attended and it truly was global! We had people attend from China, Australia, Brazil, the UK, Indonesia, and more. They were an inspiring mix of academics, practitioners, thought leaders, trainers, consultants, personal interest, students, and those new to the concept.
With an interruption imposed by COVID, our hope is that this conference will be a like a snowball that keeps gaining momentum, profile, and people from all over the world.
And, our ultimate hope is that one day a followership-focused conference won’t be necessary - that every conference and everyone sees that followership and leadership are equal parts of a partnership, and both influence each other. You aren’t leading is no one is following.
Marc and Samantha Hurtwitz, Flip University
IRA CHALEFF | Author: Courageous Followership
Ira Chaleff is an author, speaker, workshop presenter and innovative thinker on the beneficial use of power between those who are leading and those who are following in any given situation. His ground-breaking book, The Courageous Follower: Standing Up To and For Our Leaders, has been published in multiple languages and is in use around the globe at educational, corporate, government and military organizations.
AUSTIN AGHO | Provost, Old Dominion University
Dr. Agho is an celebrated teacher, researcher and leader in health services administration. He is currently Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Old Dominion. Prior to that, Agho, who earned his doctorate in hospital and health administration in 1989 from the U. of Iowa, was appointed a dean at U. of Michigan-Flint in 2001. He took the same office in 2008 at IUPUI, a 30,000-student university ranked in the top 20 for its undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. His scholarly work includes a heavily cited 2009 research article on followership.
SHARNA FABIANO | Tango Artist and Followership Coach
Sharna is recognized internationally as a specialist in Argentine Tango. Throughout her teaching career, she has been an outspoken advocate for learning both leading and following roles independent of gender, a practice that cultivates greater empathy, inclusion, and creativity in social dance communities. She now channels her insights from the world of movement into followership-based coaching and training programs for the work place.
TIM HURSON | Author: Think Better & Never Be Closing
Tim, author of Think Better and Never Be Closing, served for 15 years as President of Manifest Communications. It was doing this work that allowed him to explore the unique synergy of combining the principles of creative thinking, marketing, and sales. Tim has guest lectured in business schools in the US, Canada, UK, Mexico, Chile, and Australia on the synergies between creativity, marketing, sales, and innovation. He is a TEDx presenter and speaks around the world to leaders of global corporations, entrepreneurs, and social marketing enterprises.
GINNY SANTOS | Chief Engagement Orchestrator
Ginny Santos is a political activist turned into a collaborative process geek, turned into Chief Engagement Orchestrator. She designs and facilitates in-person and virtual meetings of 8 to 800 participants, where people, technology and Creative Problem Solving come together to make collaboration easy, effective and empowering.
SAMANTHA & MARC HURWITZ | Co-authors & Partners
Sam and Marc wrote Leadership is Half the Story: A Fresh Look at Followership, Leadership, and Partnerships (U. Toronto Press). In it, they present an integrated model of leadership with followership, along with how that creates more generative partnerships. It’s what they have been teaching, consulting, speaking about, creating online courses, and living for the past 14 years.