The British Broadcast Corporation’s (BBC) science-fiction television show Doctor Who is one of Sci-Fi’s most popular IPs in entertainment history. Spanning 60 years, the show follows the titular Doctor, an alien who travels the universe with human followers, known as Companions, as they solve problems caused by alien races for the people of Earth and beyond.

Recently, Pennsylvania Western University professor Dr. Kimberly Yost wrote a book on the lessons of leadership learned from the actions of The Doctor’s companions. The book, Courageous Companions: Followership in Doctor Who, is available online through publisher Emerald Publishing Limited.

Yost, an assistant professor of management for PennWest’s Department of Business, Economics, and Communication and based at PennWest's California campus, said the book came from the different personalities each Companion brings to their role as they stand alongside The Doctor.

“Just as there is no single type of leader, there is no single type of follower,” Yost said. “Each of the Companions have their unique purpose in what and how they help the Doctor meet his goal, whether the goal is defending Earth or traveling through time.”

Yost’s book covered some of the different styles the Doctor’s Companions, who each bring their own style to balance out the Doctor’s decision-making. Such lessons translate well to the real world, Yost said.

“We’re talking about the co-construction of leadership. Leaders don’t just lead in a vacuum unless they are very awful leaders,” she said. “It’s the followers who help co-construct the vision, purpose, missions and process by which leadership is practiced. So, it’s important for the followers to be there and help the leaders implement the collective vision, much like the followers help The doctor make it through their incarnations.”

Yost notes that, whether it’s in a science fiction IP or in the corporate world, the concept of courageous followers is critical to success.

“Leadership is leadership. The context is not that important. You are not going to necessarily lead differently in a nonprofit organization versus a for-profit corporation,” she said. “It’s the courageous followers, the ones who step up and work with the leaders and speak truth to power, like the Companions do, that help make a difference in these organizations.”