The Value of Followership

**As I progress through my doctoral program I will be placing some of my work on here. Please feel free to engage with me in the learning process to seek greater depth in understanding of leadership, scripture, and life.

The relationship between leaders and followers has often had a lopsided focus, honing in on the leader part of the relationship. However, as in any relationship, in order to be healthy and functional, it is necessary for both parties to be engaged, necessary, and appreciated. Only through mutual understanding can the leader-follower relationship thrive to its fullest potential, which is why we must not disregard the importance of followership as a fundamental attribute of effective leadership.

The oversight of understanding followership is “due in large part to confusion and misunderstanding about what followership constructs are and how they relate to leadership.” (Fairhurst, 2012, p.1044) This confusion is a result of misunderstanding leadership and not realizing it is a “process that is co-created in social and relational interactions between people.” (Fairhurst, 2012, p. 1044) This oversight has led to, at best, disenfranchised followers, and at worst, great atrocities.

To overcome such an oversight it will require a long hard look at the leader-follower construct and realize “the significance of following for leadership means that our understanding of leadership is incomplete without an understanding of followership.” (Uhl-Bien,2014, p. 84) A realization of acknowledging the importance of understanding followers is long overdue. (Kellerman, 2007, p. 86) And the followers know it.

Followers, to some degree or another, possess leadership qualities, aspirations, and talents, but for whatever reason find themselves in a follower position, whether by choice or circumstances. Whatever the case, followers are not automatons, and many of them have sharp minds. “Increasingly, followers think for themselves as free agents, not as dependent underlings. And they act accordingly, often withholding support from bad leaders, throwing their weight behind the good ones, and sometimes claiming commanding voices for those lower down in the social or organizational hierarchy.” (Kellerman, p.86)


Fairhurst, G. T., & Uhl-Bien, M. (2012). Organizational Discourse Analysis (ODA): Examining Leadership as a Relational Process. The Leadership Quarterly, 23(6), 1043–1062.

Kellerman, B. (2007). What Every Leader Needs to Know About Followers. Harvard Business Review, 85(12), 84–91.

Uhl-Bien, M., Riggio, R. E., Lowe, K. B., & Carsten, M. K. (2014). Followership theory: A Review and Research Agenda. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(1), 83–104.

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