The Leader-Follower Relationship

The Leader-Follower Relationship

Length: 1467 words (4.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Leadership is studied and analysed so that the effective practices can be taught and applied in today’s organizations. The concept of leadership has been expanded to discuss the follower’s role in the leader-follower relationship. While leading is often considered an active role, following can have a negative connotation, especially when seen as a passive, subordinate position. However, following can be a choice, and the difference between the leader and follower is the activities, rather than abilities (Wren, p.201). An organization possesses effective followers is just as important for success as having effective leaders. Hersey and Blanchard describe this relationship as dynamic and use Situational Leadership (R) as a model for the leader’s to improve the performance of their followers. Manz and Sims describe a historical view of leader types which has evolved to view the superleader as the most effective type for our current culture. The role of the superleader is to empower followers to become self-leaders themselves. The Situational Leadership model may contain the word “Leadership”, but it is mostly about effective management practices and does not address developing the role of the follower.
There is a difference between managing and leading. In Managerial Roles, H. Mintzberg describes 10 roles, grouped under the categories of interpersonal, informational and decision roles, that a manager should posses. An effective leader should have those skills as well, in addition to having an overall vision, clearly communicating those goals and motivating their followers to work towards it (Wren, p.378). Leadership is also about directing change. Without change, leadership is only management of the status quo (MacNeil, Cavanagh, Silcox, p.6). There is nothing wrong with begin a successful manager, just as there is much value to be an effective follower.
The role of the follower and subordinate is very different in terms of ability and choice. Subordinates are considered passive, lacking in initiative and responsibility. The image of sheep comes to mind, where as followers are more active, and engage in more critical thinking (Wren, p.195). Robert Kelley further describes the effective followers have good self-management skills, abilities and motivation, which are exactly the same qualities apparent in effective leaders. That relationship between leader and follower is defined by the role they play, since an effective follower has the skills to switch positions with the leader.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Leader-Follower Relationship." 18 Aug 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Relationship Between Leader And Follower Relationship Essay

- Introduction This chapter will focus on the literature review of the research. The main gist is to examine the in-depth dynamic interactions between leader and follower relationship, and how the accord can be a contributory factor in affecting work conditions and environment whether it is positively or negatively. The probe into the secondary literature or research can further provide a deeper understanding of this vital connection between the involved parties. By delving into the intricacies of each component, one can learn an intellectual acuity the relevancy of each constituent and its roles in the development of this essential relationship....   [tags: Leadership, Scientific method, Fred Fiedler, Skill]

Research Papers
927 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on The Leader-Follower Relationship

- Leadership is studied and analysed so that the effective practices can be taught and applied in today’s organizations. The concept of leadership has been expanded to discuss the follower’s role in the leader-follower relationship. While leading is often considered an active role, following can have a negative connotation, especially when seen as a passive, subordinate position. However, following can be a choice, and the difference between the leader and follower is the activities, rather than abilities (Wren, p.201)....   [tags: leadership, motivation theories]

Free Essays
1467 words (4.2 pages)

The Leader Follower Relationship Between Leaders And Followers And The Context

- Barbara Kellerman is a unique theorist – she was one of the first theorists to focus the bulk of her research on something overlooked by other researchers: followers. Kellerman (2005) sees leadership in a way few others do: as a relationship that exists between leaders and followers and the context in which that relationship operates. By that logic followership must be an extension of leadership, rather than a result of it. Kellerman’s theories examine followers not as subordinates, but as co-participants in leadership (Ekundayo, Damhoeri, & Ekundayo, 2010)....   [tags: Leadership, Management, Leader]

Research Papers
1032 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on Description of a Servant Leader Mindset

- The orientation of a leader comes from an entirely different place from that of one who identifies their orientation as a “servant leader mindset” (SLM) I contend from here it is transformative, evolved. While servant leadership is a timeless concept, the phrase “servant leadership” was coined by (Robert K. Greenleaf 1970). With an emphasis on “following” it is the oldest of leadership change dating back to the 4th century B.C. (Brewer, 2010) “servant leadership” coined by Robert Greenleaf in 1970, but has its’ roots firmly planted in classical antiquity....   [tags: leaders, leadership, servant leader]

Research Papers
639 words (1.8 pages)

Leadership in Healthcare Management Essay

- According to McConell (2012), the difference in a leader and a follower determines the success of a person regarding leadership. This chapter helps explain the content of qualities and proficiency for healthcare managers to be effective. Once again, effective management skills or certain qualifications enhance a healthcare organization environment. Healthcare managers and supervisors must have the capacity to handle challenges while the organization objectives and regulations may change over a period of time....   [tags: follower, leader, leadership styles]

Research Papers
1344 words (3.8 pages)

Essay about What Makes A Good Follower?

- When coaching people there will be many obstacles people will have to go through, but at the end of the day it will be worth the time and effort. People who want to do a good job and represent their company while helping others achieve their goals in the process. “Great followers don’t make it about them. They are humble. They shine the light on the leader. They make their own boss look good—especially in front of his or her boss.” (Hyatt) This is an example of a worker who means business and will do whatever it takes to get things completed....   [tags: Management, Employment, Leadership, Coaching]

Research Papers
735 words (2.1 pages)

Essay about Sun Tzu: A Visionary Leader

- “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” (BAM, 2010, p.20) These words were first written down over 2,400 years ago by a Chinese general named Sun Tzu in his famous military strategy treatise known today as The Art of War. These words, in fact the entire book, are just as valid today as they were during Sun Tzu’s lifetime. He was one of the first truly visionary and ethical military leaders in the world. Despite the fact that there is not much known about Sun Tzu today other than his writings, in this essay, I intend to extract his essence from his treatise to prove he was a visionary leader....   [tags: chinese history, ethical leaders]

Research Papers
1950 words (5.6 pages)

Essay about The Leader As Mentor : Discipleship

- The Leader as Mentor Discipleship is the process of making disciples; students or followers of someone (Oxford Dictionaries, 2016). Although discipleship existed long before Jesus, the disciple-making process as expressed by Jesus is the most impactful example for Christianity. The following is an analysis of discipleship as it was applied to Jesus’ ministry, Jesus’ discipleship model in light of modern leadership theories, and a discussion of what can be gleaned from Jesus’ discipleship model. Levels of Discipleship Shown in Jesus’ Ministry Among the other things that Jesus did during His time on earth, He made disciples....   [tags: Leadership, Management, Gospel of Matthew]

Research Papers
1080 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on What Makes A Good Leader?

- Credibility Makes a Difference When it comes to leadership, credibility makes all the difference in relation to having a team of willing followers. Having a leader a person is willing to follow creates a positive environment to conduct the most possible productivity in an organization. Having a shared goal throughout an organization inspires individuals to want to participate and feel a purpose to their organization. Anyone can be a leader it is having the knowledge and ability to use the knowledge to lead people....   [tags: Leadership, Sociology, Management, Belief]

Research Papers
1565 words (4.5 pages)

Essay on Leader Models

- Introduction The purpose of this paper is to conduct a literature review of Hersey and Blanchard’s leadership theory and model. The researcher will provide a brief description of the major points of the situation leadership theory/model. Also, the researcher will highlight the efficacy of the theory/model in its approach to leadership. Finally, the researcher will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the theory/model. Major Points of the Situational Leadership Model According to Hambleton and Gumpert (1982) the Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Theory is used to help leaders influence the behavior of others to be effective in their interaction with others....   [tags: Management]

Research Papers
1447 words (4.1 pages)

Following is a choice and even then it can range of minimally active to very active, and that range can change over time or due to situations. As John Gardner states, “They can be given subordinates, but they cannot be given a following. A following must be earned.” (Wren, p.186)
According to Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership model, the leader’s role is to adapt their behaviour or style in order to maintain their follower’s performance. This means the leader needs to be aware of the readiness level of the followers and adjust their responses accordingly to changes due to personal problems arising, new assigned tasks, or new goals established. There is a Situation Level (on a scale from S1 to S4) that coincides with the follower’s Readiness Level (rated from R1 to R4). Readiness is defined by ability (training and experience) and willingness (commitment and motivation). It should be noted that he updated version has replaced Readiness with the word Development. The Situation Level dictates the Leader Behaviors, which involve task ( giving direction) and relationship (amount of 2-way communication). At the start, the employee (R1) is new and needs lots of direction from the leader (S1). By the time they reach the S4 level, Delegating, the follower has more responsibility and decision making, so the leader can be more focussed on goal-setting and problem identification (Wren, p.210). There is two points of interest here. First, the goal-setting is still in the hands of the leader, and does not involve the followers. Second, there is a continuing managerial tone to the instructions as it focuses on what the person in charge does to “maximize the performance of subordinates”. The follower’s effectiveness will ultimately depend on the manner in which the leader applies the appropriate combinations of directive and supportive behaviour (Wren, p.210). It is assumed that the leader is still the source of knowledge and that the follower does not contribute as much to the organisation. While the followers may become more skilled and independent, they are not viewed as equals in this relationship, which is a contrast to Robert Kelley.
Effective followers do depend on effective leadership, but how has that relationship changed historically and what is a possible description of the ideal leader? Charles Manz and Henry Sims categorize leadership under four types: strong man, transactor, visionary hero and superleader. Successful leadership in organizations has changes over time (Wren, 214). These types are described by the dominant behaviours and methods. Each have strength, since they have been effective in situations and times, however, they do have limitations.
The strong man, transactor and visionary hero all place the leader at the top. They are the authority, have the knowledge, and acquire the compliance of their followers. In this relationship, the titles are synonymous by their actions: the leaders are active by “leading” and the followers are passive by “following”. Each characteristic have some advantages and have worked depending on the situation, but each have a significant weakness based on how they treat their followers. The strong man leads by command and keeps the followers in line through intimidation or punishment for failure. When strength and confidence are valued, this is the ideal type. As women entered the workplace and assume manager positions, the type of dominant behavior is not so favoured. Putting the fear into employees is not a reason for skilled worker to stay, especially if their work is more appreciated elsewhere. To promote effort and loyalty, the transactor motivates using rewards. The power of the transactor is to reward their followers for their efforts and compliance. However, the motivation of the employees may falter should the external incentives aren’t deemed worthwhile. The more effective followers may want more from their career to motivate them, and want to share in an organisations grander vision. The visionary hero may offer that vision. They inspire by charisma and encourages the followers to share the leader’s dream. Relying too much on the vision and not being willing to be flexible can undo this leader’s efforts. In all these cases, the leader-follower relationship is very one directional (Wren, 214-216)
The fourth type described, the superleader, differs from the earlier types because it ‘s main task is to empower the followers with the skills so they can lead themselves. Instead of always being the primary source of wisdom and decision making, the superleader will shift the relationship so that the power will be shared with the follower (Wren, p.217). This is more in line with Roberts Kelley’s view the leader-follower relationship. At the start, the superleader provides the majority of the motivation, encouragement and direction. Through teaching goal-setting, shifting responsibilities and challenging each follower to reach their potential of excellence (Wren, p.218). The superleader title can be a bit misleading because it is not the image of mythical hero possessing incredible powers, instead they are super because they unleash the potential of their followers (Wren, p.214). The Situation Leadership doesn’t appear to train follower in such depth.
As previously stated, Robert Kelley suggests that the leader-follower relationship needs to be redefined to be seen as equals. More focus should be placed into training and cultivating effective followers, not just on the leaders, since their desired qualities are practically the same. He also suggests performance evaluations and feedback. The most significant proposal Kelley makes is for organisations to encourage followership in their structure (Wren, p.203). He recommends variations in leadership structure, such as smaller leaderless group, so that the all members carry equal responsibilities. Understanding the differences in role of the leader and follower are experienced with rotating or temporary leadership. Ideally, followers learn what its like to be in the shoes of the leader, plus followers learn how they can compensate for ineffective leadership (Wren, p.203). There is trial and error in these experiments, however, the experience learned can empower the followers and motivate them, which is consistent with the superleader type. Superleaders must allow room for mistakes or even to encourage risk-taking (Wren, p.219).

Need to develop Effective followers and what....?

Works Cited

Hersey , Blanchard, Johnson (2007) Management of Organisational Behavior. Retrieved from,.
MacNeil, Cavanagh & Silcox (2003) Beyond Instructional Leadership: Towards Pedagogic Leadership. Paper presented at 2003 Annual Australian conference for the Australian association for Research in Education: Aukland
Mintzberg, H. (1973) Managerial Roles. Adapted from The Nature of Managerial Work. Reprinted by permission of Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers 2010.
Wren, J. (1995) The Leader’s Companion: Insights on Leadership through the Ages. New York: The Free Press
Return to