The Organizational Development Muse

Dr. Mark L. Vincent's Blog

5 questions with . . . .Jim Galvin

Posted by Mark L. Vincent on Aug 30, 2013 6:31:00 AM


jim galvin, design group international, 5 questions with, emerging leadersWelcome to our occasional series of interviews, "5 Questions With..."

Jim Galvin is an organizational consultant specializing in strategy, effectiveness, and change. He is relentlessly focused on releasing the potential of leaders and organizations.

His client list spans a wide variety of organizations including foundations, associations, universities, agencies, ministries, congregations, denominations, and businesses.

Jim's most recent book "I've got your back" tackles the emergence of younger leaders. We ask him five questions:

1. Do the 5 levels of followership you discuss correspond to the 5 levels of leadership? Are they really mirror images of each other or does the analogy break down in some way?


Jim Collins developed the concept of Level 5 Leadership. In his model, level 1 is a highly capable individual, level 2 is a contributing team member, level 3 is a competent manager, level 4 is an effective leader, and level 5 is  an executive who builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical combination of personal humility and a tenacious will. The five levels of followership I describe is a slightly different approach. Level 5 leadership describes good performance at different levels of responsibility, the five levels of followership differentiate those who are following poorly from those who are following well, no matter what level of responsibility you may have. The five levels of followership flow out of the Parable of the Minas (Luke 19). It only makes sense that some people are following the leader better than others. I’ve just attempted to put a number to it.


Level of Followership 

 Parable of the Ten Servants in Luke 19

 Leader-Follower Dynamic


First servant invested the mina and earned 10 more (v. 16)

Someone who is following well, helping other followers, helping the leader lead, sense of oneness with the leader


Second servant invested the mina and earned 5 more (v. 18)

Someone who is following well, helping other followers, and supportive of the leader, sense of teamwork with the leader


Any servant could have deposited the money to earn interest on it (v. 23)

Someone who is doing the minimum required, mere compliance, a sheep, sense of following the leader


Third servant returned the mina after hiding it (v. 20)

Someone who is not fulfilling responsibilities, falling behind, a slacker, sense of distance from the leader


Enemies were rounded up to be killed (v. 27)

Someone who is undercutting or resisting, making things worse, sense of antagonism toward the leader


2. It  seems that the thickness of the leadership-followership coin might be determined by the type of authority a leader holds and how the leader chooses to exercise it. How do you help leaders and followers flesh this out and choose appropriate strategies?

 Authority is an interesting issue. First of all, there is a difference between legal authority and organizational authority. When the government passes laws then we have to obey those laws or face a possible penalty. It’s the law. But in other settings, we can lead with or without organizational authority. This authority is socially constructed. So, an executive of a large company can use his or her power and authority of the position to get things done. A director of an all-volunteer organization however, can’t make anybody do anything. Leading with authority is easier than leading without authority. It also requires a more skillful leader to be effective without organizational authority. In either case the followers still have to follow well, whether the leader wields power over followers or not. In either case, the leaders have to know how to help the followers to follow well. The leader has to find out what the followers need and provide that for them.


3. Is it appropriate to say that leader-follower is becoming more fluid? How do you help organizations navigate among these fluid roles?

Leadership and followership are becoming more fluid in many contexts. Some of this is due to the differences between the Builder generation and the generations that have followed them. Millennials don’t appreciate a top-down, controlling leadership style for example. Some of this is a result of increasing use of technology that gives more people access to information that used to be known only to those at the top. Years ago, if the boss had all the information, then he called the shots and people went along with it. Today, many more people lower down in an organization know what’s going on.


4. In "I've got your back" one of the main characters, Jack, provides counsel to young leaders trying to make their way by learning to become excellent followers. Are Jack's life experiences and wisdom that he dispenses modeled after yours in any way?

Hah! I never served in the military or as a missionary. I wanted to create a character to dispel the common notion that one has to lead one way in business and another way in church. Good leadership that is focused on what followers need to follow well works in every context. There is no “Christian leadership style.” So Jack’s experience bridges both worlds. Originally, I wrote about a dozen chapters on the theology of leadership. There is not much written on that topic. I attempted to connect recent leadership research with Biblical insights on leading people. I gained a lot of insight in my research and in trying to bring these two fields together. While other people with doctorates in leadership were telling me that this was the best synthesis of the two they had ever seen, it was not effectively impacting the thinking of people in frontline supervisory positions. I realized that I had made the classic mistake of writing to my peers instead of to my target audience: younger and emerging leaders. So I went back to the manuscript, selected the top five most important concepts related to theology of leadership, and wrote the back half of the book, which is titled “A Concise Theology of Leadership and Followership.” After that, I worked on creating a story of four twenty-somethings who for some reason wanted to learn about these concepts that would then change their life. So, it would be fair to say that I came at the whole thing backwards.

5. Where does someone get hold of your book?

At this link: I've Got Your Back: Biblical Principles for Leading and Following Well.






emell vee, whorled viewz, design group international

Topics: process design, process consulting, emerging leaders, organizational development consulting, leadership development, Mark L. Vincent, Design Group International


Posts by Tag

See all

Subscribe to the Mark's blog


Looking for something that isn't here? It might be in our publication archives or written by another consultant.