Followership: An Important Partner of Leadership: A Path to Effective Followership

Martin (2008) affirmed that in an organizational setting, the imperative role of followers is to help leaders make informed decisions. He listed ten rules of good followership: (a) do not blame your boss for an unpopular decision or policy; (b) fight with your boss if necessary; (c) make the decision and run it past the boss; (d) accept responsibility whenever it is offered; (e) tell the truth and do not quibble; (f) do your homework; (g) know the weaknesses as well as the strengths while plans are being implemented; (h) keep your boss informed; (i) if you see a problem, fix it; and (j) put it more than an honest day’s work (p. 9). As a follower, it is not only to execute the tasks, but also to provide feedbacks to help leaders make proper decisions. After all, a follower is the person who knows the real situation and performs the assignments. Thus, it is important to empower followers to evaluate the process and make proper adjustments to fit the current situation, thereby executing better performance.
According to the idea of workforce performance, Blackshear (2004) suggested that a dynamic followership performance consists of five stages: employee, committed follower, engaged follower, effective follower, and exemplary follower. As this model suggests, followers turn from outsiders into insiders in an organization.  Continue reading »

Followership: An Important Partner of Leadership: Qualities of Good Followers continue

Followership: An Important Partner of Leadership: Qualities of Good FollowersTownsend and Gebhardt (2003) further differentiated between two types of followership: active and passive. The biggest difference is the empowerment of the decision-making process. Active followership grants more power and involvement to assist leaders to form the final decisions, whereas passive followership just obeys the orders passed by leaders. It is clear that active followership will contribute more benefits because of the collecting resources of brain tanks. Along with the idea of active and passive attitudes, Kelley (1988) ranked five followership patterns from sheep, to yes-people, to alienated followers, to survivors, to effective followers. Kelley (2008) further argued that understanding these five basic followership styles is important for leaders because it reflects both positive and negative behaviors of followers. However, he admitted that there is still a long way to go to understand followership more fully.
Echoing the notion of attitudes and behaviors of followership, Chaleff (2008) proposed that there are four types of followers: implementers, resources, partners, and individualists. Followers who are implementers are high support and low challenge, and they can effectively execute the tasks but rarely to challenge the norm. Followers who are resources are low support and low challenge, and they only do enough to retain their positions. Followers who are partners are high support and high challenge, and they have more responsibilities.  Continue reading »

Followership: An Important Partner of Leadership: Qualities of Good Followers

Frisina (2005) pointed out that in our current culture, follower has a passive and a blind connotation. However, from the perspective of effective followership, the role of followers should be viewed as positive because it reflects that followers actively engage in the work and provide critical and constructive feedback for leaders in order to make informed decisions. In fact, a number of scholars have argued that good leaders and followers share similar characteristics (Brown, 2003; Hollander, 1992; Latour & Rast, 2004). After all, this relationship is a two-way street. Latour and Rast (2004) noted that this connection in fact implies two dimensions of followership: competency and relationship. The former involves working effectively with others, embracing change, understanding what is expected, and seeing one’s self as a resource. The latter pertains to building trust, communicating courageously, identifying with the leader, and adopting the leader’s vision.
From the perspective of individuals’ role orientations, Howell and Mendez (2008) proposed that there are three active roles of followership: interactive, independent, and shifting. They believed these three roles contribute to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the leader-follower relationship. Continue reading »

Followership: An Important Partner of Leadership: Organizational Development

Followership: An Important Partner of Leadership: Understanding FollowershipFollowership is interactive” (p. 48). Indeed, “good followership is underpinned by human factor science” (Whitlock, 2013, p. 22). According to Whitlock (2013), the crux of followership is appropriate skills and behaviors for optimized performance, which contributes to upholding organizational development. Hence, followership is defined by Maroosis (2008) as a “discipline of competences and response-abilities” (p. 18), and he further explained that “response-ability is readiness” (p. 18). In this sense, Maroosis (2008) contended that good followership can be learned, and the most important function followers possess is to provide feedback. Continue reading »

Followership: An Important Partner of Leadership: Understanding Followership

The leader-follower relationship has been investigated from different approaches, involving evolutionary theory (van Vugt, 2006), technology (Hall & Densten, 2002), group performance (Kelly, Zrroff, Leybman, & Martin, 2011), community nursing (Kean, Haycock-Stuart, Baggaley, & Carson, 2011), and an African rthnic group (Hotep, 2010). Kean et al. (2011) identified two approaches on how to examine followership in the literature: individual attributes of followers and a context where followers perform effective followership. They urged more research should focus on the dynamic social construction of followership.
Rost (2008) has tried to untangle the concept between followers and followership. Generally speaking, the former is viewed as “the people who follow” (p. 54) and the latter is “the process people use to follow” (p. 54).  Continue reading »

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