Followership Is As Important As Leadership

1595 words - 6 pages

A leader alone cannot accomplish a goal or vision by oneself. There is a built in assumption in our society that everybody should strive to be a leader. That’s where the fame and fortune are—with the leaders. “You can get a PhD in organizational leadership, but you can’t even get a bachelor’s in followership.” (Mercer) Why should an organization focus on followership as much as leadership?

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines followership as “the capacity or willingness to follow a leader”. Over the last several years, there’s been a huge interest in leadership. However, former HP Executive Vice President, Vyomesh Joshi, shared that the key to being a great leader is not about leadership but instead the real attribute is followership and that potential leaders should always ask themselves “Why would anyone want to follow me?” (Peterson)

There is a dynamic mutual benefit and support between the leader and the follower. Because of certain changes in culture and technology, followership is becoming more and more important. They both need each other. Leadership and followership cannot work without the other. In the late 20th century, Robert Kelley, Ira Challef and Rodger Adair reexamined leadership. Each of these scholars had focused their attention to the development and structure of followership in 3 different models.

Robert Kelley estimates that leaders on average contribute no more than 20% to the success of an organization, while so-called followers are responsible for the remaining 80%. (Bryne) His Followership Model describes the followers into five different categories: passive followers, conformist followers, alienated followers, pragmatist followers, and exemplary followers. These followers are required to see that their role is to follow and to show leadership. (Spalding) The passive followers, also known as sheep, needs the authority directed as well the motivation to do it. The conformist follower, also known as the yes people, look for the leader to show the vision, direct authority but has the motivation to do it. The Alienated followers will come up with every reason as to why the idea will not work. The pragmatic followers wait until all the pieces are in place and then dive in to do their part. They do just what is necessary and nothing more. The exemplary followers, also known as star followers, get actively involved and exercise critical thinking. However, they are not shy to challenge a decision if they feel that it is necessary.

The basic concept behind Ira Challef’s Courageous Followership model is that followers don’t serve leaders. Instead that followers and leaders serve a common purpose. This model is separated into 2 concepts, level of support of leadership and level of willingness to challenge the authority which are then divided into four quadrants: resource, individualist, implementer and partner. The resource type is only there to receive a paycheck by doing just what is necessary to get the job done....

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