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. The more they are engaged in the daily life of the organization, the more responsibility and important tasks they have. Their body, mind, and soul are completely integrated into the system of the organization. One survey study (Blanchard, Welbourne, Gilmore, & Bullock, 2009) indicated that two attributes of followership, critical thinking and active engagement, are associated with work outcomes. Most important, active engagement is positively associated with job satisfaction and organizational commitment, while independent critical thinking is negatively related to organizational commitment and job satisfaction.
Under the umbrella of effective followers proposed by Kelley (1988), Jaussi, Stefanovich, and Devlin (2008) called for followership for creativity. They proposed that there are four types of effective followers for creativity and innovation in organizations: creative catalysts, creative supporters, creative statics, and creative skeptics. Their framework is similar to that proposed by Chaleff’s (2008) four types of followers. The biggest difference is integrating the element of creativity into the followership attribute. These followers are different in their problem solving propensities, thinking styles, and preferences for structure. Having different styles has its strengths and weaknesses. Thus, Jaussi et al. (2008) provided several recommendations and encouraged followers to value and enhance creativity in order to facilitate innovation throughout the organization.