Followers Follow Up

Repeatedly in recent years I’ve pointed out that leaders are getting weaker and followers – others – are getting stronger. The culture is now such, and the technology is now such, that there’s no bucking a wind blowing from below.

The case of Brian Williams is a case in point. It was assumed at first that his apologizing, sort of, for the errors of his ways would suffice. But it did not. Whereas previously he got away with shading the truth, or telling an outright lie, depending on how you look at it, this time others were so offended by his transgression that they refused to let up. The story caught on, Williams was repeatedly ridiculed, including relentlessly on social media, and so in short order he had no choice but to capitulate.

But so, tellingly, did NBC. Network executives had zero interest in pushing Williams from his perch. Williams was a cash cow, doing as well by the news division as by himself. But the situation became impossible. Leaders with vast reserves of power, authority, and influence were obliged to succumb to followers without. No more, and no less, than a sign of the times.

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