Evolution Of Robert Kelley’s Followership Theory

1915 words - 8 pages

Introduction
Order in the society is established and sustained through effective group communication. The most essential being group communication since societies always have a leader-follower dimension within different contexts. Understanding this dimension is key to unlocking cohesive coexistence in societies. Initially, research responded to the need for this understanding by focusing discourses on how people become effective leaders. Confucius, Plato, Lao Zi and Aristotle all discussed the making of a leader. However, recent evolutions in thinking and perception of societies have prompted scholars to focus on strategies and attitudes associated with followers of leaders (Kelley, 1992). Such studies are not only essential in aiding followers in their development, but also in facilitating effective group communication. There can be no leaders without followers; hence, leadership is in a constant dialectic with followership. Among the most significant contributors to the flip side is Robert E. Kelley in his theory of followership.
This paper will carry out exploration of Kelley’s followership theory inlcud9g its description, rationale for exploring the theory as pertains to practical import, theoretical import and intrinsic interest. Literature that support and challenge the theory will also be explored as well as critiques of the theory. The critiques will be explored as well, highlighting evidence supporting or disapproving them.
The origin of the followership theory by Kelley can be traced to religion. He reflected on how the followers of Jesus Christ changed the world and thus thought of the fundamental issues that make followership effective. The theory of followership was first published in the Harvard Business Review in 1988 (Kelly, 1988). From the seven pages article that was written at the time and it was then developed further into two groups, which were How to be a star a work (1998) and the power of followership (1992). In his works, Kelly does not present a concise definition of the term followership. However, it can be deduced that it followership means the role that an individual plays to show support for another individual who is their leader. Kelley’s theory uses a unique perception of the relationship between leaders and followers. It is often perceived that followers cannot be followers without leaders while Kelley sees that leaders cannot be leaders without their followers.
Theory
Leaders can also be followers at particular times in their lives. Managers in organizations are in charge of personnel while at the same time answering to CEOs. People become what they need to be in different organizations and different situations. Hence, rather than look at an individual using a rigid view where one is either a great leader or a sheep (follower), it is essential to view an individual as one with different traits which are ever present and make them a follower. Follower traits include that they are good at managing themselves,...

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