Followership Essay

1733 words - 7 pages


Followership 1
Definition of topic 3
Business Case: Why is followership an important concept for leaders? 3
Past and current tends 6
An example related to a specific company 8

Definition of topic
The concept of followership has existed for decades, but only in relatively recent times has the idea received more attention. The dictionary definition of the word “followership” is “the capacity or willingness to support a leader”. In his 1988 book, The Power of Followership, noted followership scholar Robert E. Kelly found this to be lacking.
He described followership as “people who act with intelligence, independence, courage and a strong sense of ethics”. This more accurately describes the most preferred characteristics of a good follower. The meaning of what it is to be a follower has evolved over the years. It has changed from a “do what you are told and do not question” to a much more participatory environment in many, but not all, organizations.

Business Case: Why is followership an important concept for leaders?
Followership is an important concept for leaders to understand because without a solid base of followers, a leader is nothing. Followers are people who support and obey the wishes of a leader. Even if an organization has the greatest leader in the history of leaders, the organization can still fail without the development of its members. Followers are the individuals who make the organization function. Identifying and improving their skills will help bolster the organization. The continuing push for efficiency in all aspects of business is another valuable aspect of the importance of followership (Kelley). When people work together more efficiently, it saves time and money. It has also been discovered that the people who end up being the best leaders are those who were great followers. (Reicher) This realization that leadership and followership are tightly intertwined is changing the nature of training these concepts
The study in to the area of followership has been overshadowed by leadership for many years, and continues to lack in research studies to examine this important topic. This may be partly the fault of our culture. “Follower” has had a negative connotation in sayings like “always a leader, never a follower”. Leaders are looked upon as an elite class, while followers are viewed as people who did not achieve. Leadership has become romanticized by popular culture, leaving little research and attention to followership (Meindl). This focus on leadership has left a deficit in the development of good followership skills in employees.
This has begun to change for a number of reasons. The employee’s access to data related to the business and other information has exploded. The leader no longer is the ultimate source of reliable information (Alcorn). The internet has allowed employees to discover information about their own organization and also to research other...

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