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). However, Rost (2008) argued that this kind of perspective of followership, in fact, stems from the industrial view of leadership that dichotomizes two separate processes, which in turn results in no interactions between leadership and followership. In the end, this might lead to underestimate or, even worse, disdain the importance of followership in today’s society. In order to avoid this issue, Rost (2008) defined followership as “collaborative leadership [that] is an influence relationship among leaders and collaborators who intend significant changes that reflect their mutual interests” (p. 57).
Cox et al. (2010) defined followership as a “priori choice (self-conscious) of the individual in the context of his or her relationship to the nominal leader. Issues of authority and rank play little or no role in such a choice.