The Mary Parker Follett Network

Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. - MPF

I just discovered Follett and wrote a short article about her for the Conscious Leadership Guild, published here:

Views: 84

Comment by Matthew Shapiro on October 14, 2021 at 10:02pm

It looks like one must join the Guild in order to read the article, no?

Comment by John Renesch on October 15, 2021 at 2:38pm

Matthews, my apologies if that is the case. Here is a copy of the article:


Mary Parker Follett: Underappreciated Visionary

By John Renesch

For Conscious Leadership Guild


It isn’t often that I feel shocked when learning about a visionary business person I have never heard of, especially at my age, but I was recently. Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933) died four years before I was born yet I only recently learned she pioneered the fields of management and leadership, a field I have specialized in for decades. Warren Bennis, the late leadership guru and a cherished colleague of mine, said of her (according to Wikipedia):

Just about everything written today about leadership and organizations comes from Mary Parker Follett's writings and lectures.

A big part of my surprise when learning about Follett was that I had considered Bennis the godfather of leadership wisdom much like I had considered Peter Drucker the godfather of management theory, at least here in the U.S.A. After learning of Follett I discovered that Drucker had called her “the brightest star in the management firmament” (according to a June 2021 issue of Time magazine). She’s also referred to as the “Mother of Modern Management.”

According to some, Follett coined the term “transformational leadership.” Here is an excerpt from a 1991 scholastic paper1: “…writings and lectures by Mary Parker Follett from as early as 1927 that contained references to transformational leadership.”

Along with shock and surprise I eventually felt anger at the way accomplished women were (and still are) almost invisible despite their enormous contributions to our society. Here two of my heroes, Bennis and Drucker, who were admittedly standing on Follett’s shoulders yet even with their acknowledgement she remained “the forgotten business guru2.” Drucker lamented that she had “become a nonperson.”

As I conclude this short editorial I’m left wanting to acknowledge this woman’s contribution to the field of leadership in some way – a way not yet clear to me.


                                                                    * * * * * * *


  1. The Social Construction of Leadership: From Theory to Praxis, by Edith A. Rusch, presented at the annual Conference on Research on Women and Education (San Jose, CA) November 1991
  2.   “There Is a Better Way to Use Power at Work. This Forgotten Business Guru Has the Secrets,”

 Time magazine, June 15, 2021

Comment by Matthew Shapiro on October 16, 2021 at 8:15pm

Thank you for posting it here, John.


You need to be a member of The Mary Parker Follett Network to add comments!

Join The Mary Parker Follett Network

© 2024   Created by Matthew Shapiro.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service