Picture of a military meeting

Cambridge Festival: Leadership and Followership – Rise of the follower

What is the Cambridge Festival?

The interdisciplinary Cambridge Festival is a mixture of on online, on-demand and in-person events covering all aspects of the world-leading research happening at Cambridge

When is the Cambridge Festival?

The Cambridge Festival in 2024 will take place between 13 March and the 28 March.

Leadership is a dynamic, evolving set of behaviours and mindsets, transforming, and responding to its surroundings. A traditional one-directional view has shifted to recognize leadership as a dialogue between leaders and followers, with the follower’s role just as crucial for success and impact. In this event we are going to the heart of institutional leadership to examine the leadership and followership dynamic within the Armed Forces. Taking a cross-service perspective we will understand how, in one of the most challenging leadership environments imaginable, we can see a progressive and future-focused approach take shape. What can we learn from this environment to impact on positive leadership across all areas of society?

Leadership is a continually evolving set of behaviours, mindsets and habits, dynamically engaging with the world around it. We have moved beyond the perception of leadership as one-directional and top-down, and recognise its true nature as a dialogue between those who fulfil leadership roles, and those who align with or oppose them: in other words, those who are in followership roles. Far from a passive function, the role of follower is as significant as any other role in creating success, impact and transformation across contexts.
To unravel the evolution of the leader–follower dynamic and glimpse into its future, we need to take a long view as to how the dynamic has evolved over time. Very few leadership contexts can provide a continuous space in which to examine the roles of leader and follower as that of the Armed Forces. Amid complex terrains, it is essential that a clear, realistic and useful perspective on leadership is held – with an honest acknowledgement of where influence, power and authority lies.

Beyond a long-term perspective, this context also creates an opportunity to examine leadership in one of its rawest and most vital forms. If successful leadership and followership behaviours are discovered here, surely we can learn how to lead better in other spaces?

In the social, economic and community spaces we inhabit, we know that the relationships we build are evolving into complex, polarised landscapes. A genuine understanding and acknowledgment of the intertwined roles driving transformation and change could be the key to navigating the shared challenges we have ahead of us.

Event details

Time: 17:30-19:00
Date: Tuesday 26 March 2024
Cost: Free of charge


Other event

We are also running another event during the Cambridge Festival:

Leadership and followership: Shaping opinion