The Follower

Building effective followers.


•Max Weber: Leaders do not lead as much as they think they do and followers are never as passive as one might imagine.

•Charismatic leaders appear in times of trouble and their followers exhibit a “devotion born out of distress.”

•The state of mind of the followers is a powerful ingredient in explaining emergence of the charismatic leader.

•Followers=Leaders & leaders=Followers

The Leader’s Companion, Thomas Wren


Should there be a high degree of structure between leaders and followers?...with a clear hierarchy of authority with emphasis on detailed assignments & task specifications?

Should leadership be less formal, less structured, with leaders making the goals clear and then letting constituents help determine the ways of proceeding?

Atmosphere of tight control vs. autonomy, individual responsibility, and freedom of growth?

Pre vs. Post Industrial Era


•Distinct role between leader and follower

•Hierarchy of command

•More passive role of follower

•Elites separate masses

•Unproductive unless directed by others


•Leaders are not managers

•Followers are not subordinates

•Leaders & followers can be anyone

•Leaders & Followers are not equal

•Multiple leadership relationships= shared roles of L & F

Followship Style

SHEEP: passive & uncritical, lacks initiative and sense of responsibility

YES PEOPLE: similar, livelier but unenterprising; dependent on leader for inspiration, can be aggressive but also servile. Bosses weak in judgment and self-confidence tend to like them and form alliances with them

ALIENATED FOLLOWERS: critical and independent in thinking but passive in carrying out their role; were turned off at some point; can be disgruntled; don’t openly oppose leader

SURVIVORS: “Better safe than sorry”

Followers in the New Paradigm

1. Effectiveness of follower depends on activity level…high to low…

2. There is an exchange of leading & following in the same organizational structure

3. People can be leaders in some organizations and followers in others.

4. Followers do not do “followership”, they do leadership…as do leaders. Tasks are different, leadership relationship is same.

effective followers: what do they look like?

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