3.7: Leadership and Followership in Sustainable Engineering

Marc Hurwitz

Workshop Introduction

Sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow, and sometimes we step away. While it is understood that we need to improve the leadership skills of engineering students, the same consideration hasn’t been given to followership. Half the partnership is missing, considered less important, underdeveloped, or ignored altogether.

In this session, we’ll consider questions such as: What does it mean to be a great follower? When should we follow? How do we help students develop or rethink their followership identity? What is the specific relevance of followership to sustainable engineering practice?

Presenter: Marc Hurwitz, PhD

Dr. MARC HURWICZ is co-author of the best-seller Leadership is Half the Story (University of Toronto, Rotman-Press) along with two other books on followership including the recent volume, Followership Education (New Direction for Student Leadership series). In 2019, he chaired the first Global Followership Conference, attended by 130 of the top researchers and educators in followership from around the world.

Marc teaches leadership, entrepreneurship, and consulting at the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship & Business. He holds graduate degrees in neuroscience, mathematics, physics, and business – all of which he has taught at the undergraduate level. Marc also has over 20 years of corporate and entrepreneurial experience including at the executive level and co-runs two businesses teaching leadership, followership, collaboration, decision-making, the neuroscience of work, and other critical interpersonal and intrapersonal skills.

Click the links below to learn more about Marc Hurwitz:


The content shown is a seminar recording presented by Marc Hurwitz with an accompanying powerpoint. The full Powerpoint presentation in the seminar can be found by clicking on the link below, which will take you to a google drive.

Key Takeaways

  • Leadership is creating and maintaining a framework for action, while Followership is about working within the given framework. Being a good follower means bringing good initiative to your framework.
  • Teaching followership helps you to create a concrete definition of leadership, prepares students to enter the workforce, and helps to become a better ally toward minority communities.
  • A mixture of leaders and followers is crucial for a working team. You should recognize when it’s your turn to lead or to follow effectively.
  • Identities are scripts that describe who you are and how you act during certain situations. You do two actions within your identity that help you shape it throughout your life
    • Identity Play – Process of experimenting with the script
    • Identity Work – Following the script
  • The C4 model answers the question of when to follow someone. The Four C’s include:
    • ┬áCommunity – Who will be part of our team?
    • Creative Inspiration – Who created the idea?
    • Capability – Who’s the most capable to complete this job?
    • Capacity – Who has immediate control?
  • Deciding which is the most important “C” for the specific task at hand is pivotal for deciding who should become the leader.