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Relationship Between Leaders and Followers: A Brief Discussion

Many people make mistake to separate leaders and followers. I think that no matter what position one has within an organization, he/she is playing a follower’s role to support someone else. Great leaders of an organization are following the profitable goals of their stakeholders. For a survival business, followers need to be effective and supportive for their leaders to be successful. Nevertheless, followers are more effective if they consider themselves active and independent (Yukl, George, & Jones, 2010). Similarly, Cavell (2007) noted that good followers should proactively find what they should do to be effective to their leaders. Therefore, the role of the followership significantly contributes in the leadership process. Cavell (2007) suggested several identified traits of good followers such as honesty, loyalty, trustworthy, ethics, team player, high energy, listener, patience, and positive attitude.

It is more important in my opinion that how follower’s view of their leaders is. According to Yukl et al. (2010), leaders’ effectiveness implies leader competence and intentions in the view of the followers. Followers who are closed to their leaders are often the most susceptible to the crucibles of their failed leaders. Additionally, followers who are so committed to their leaders are the most disappointed people when they see their leaders fail. In this situation, followers reckon with the fact that they bet on the wrong horse (Kersten, 2009). Therefore, It is important to recognize that there is a tight interactive relationship between leaders and followers. With a participatory role, followers would be supportive and effective for their successful leaders. However, follower will produce a very long-term negative consequence for their failed leaders when they possess their committed role.

Followership is critical to leadership that is much more effective. However, promoting models of followership may open an ethical issue for discussion. “Sustained followership demands the continuing connection with and engagement of associates” (Goldman, 2011, p.10). While leaders need followers for the long-term, they are required to improve their communication skill and listening ability to moving from empowerment to authorship. That is why fairness is always an ethical key of discussion. According to Tyler, Dienhart, and Thomas (2008), employees within an organization understand that the policy and procedure are equally applied to all. They also notice that rule breaking will be punished and rule following will be rewarded (Tyler et al., 2008). Consequently, when the practice of the organization does not reflect this belief, fairness is an ethical issue that breaks the trusting and committing relationship of the followers towards their leaders.

The relationship between leaders and followers within an organizational region has many different characters to the relationship of leaders and followers across the region. In any international organization, the relationship between leaders and followers also is depending on cultural values. The technology in the 21st century makes almost everything virtually available through the Internet services. However, location, time, governance, and cultural disparity are still the factors that may affect international businesses. Followers from foreign country may misunderstand the behaviors of the leaders of the company from the original nation. Perceptions of followers from different countries could also be a factor to barrier the development of the leadership and followership relationship.



Cavell, D. (2007). Leadership or followership: One or both?. Leadership and Management. P. 142-144.

Goldman, N. (2011). Why followership is critical to much more effective leadership. Credit Union Journal. P. 10.

Kersten, E. (2009). The crucibles of followership. Rules of Engagement. The Conference Board Review. P. 70-71.

Tyler, T., Dienhart, J., & Thomas, T. (2008). The ethical commitment to compliance: Building value based cultures. California Management Review, 50(2), 31–51.

Yukl, G., George, J. M., & Jones, G. R. (2010). Leadership: Building sustainable organizations (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.) New York: Custom Publishing.

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