When researching leadership studies and the overall leadership process, it is safe to say that leaders and followers are the building blocks of leadership. One can assume that just as a follower needs someone to lead them, a leader can’t lead without followers. However, in most leadership studies and research, the results and information are usually leader centered. Heller and Van Til define leadership as an action more readily defined through the eyes of a follower. “While individuals may look to a leader to frame, and concretize their reality, they may also react against, reject, or change the reality thus defined. The leader must lead, and do it well to retain leadership, the follower must follow, and do it well to retain followership.”1 At a very basic level, followers can make or break leadership. Only they can choose to be led, and the way that is initiated guides the duration of subjective leadership circumstances. We will explore the various levels of leadership and what role followers play in the leadership process. Leadership is typically very glorified in our culture. Many times you will hear young children say they want to be the “line leader” or “take names” while the teacher is out of the room. At such an early age, the idea of power in leadership seems to form in young minds. It is seen as a positive thing to be, to lead and take charge of things in your own way. There is a great amount of money spent by various businesses and organizations to send their employees to leadership summits and other leader capacity building trainings to make their organization more effective. However, because of this stigma there are some leaders who would be better off as followers. In the journal article written by Grayson & Speckhart, titled “The Leader Follower Relationship,” they explore some of the issues involved with classifying leaders and followers. “As a result of this glorification of leadership, many who strive to be leaders would actually make better followers, as well as be more satisfied in the followership role. Perhaps they would be content to be followers if it were seen as a more noble position. We have consulted with numerous leaders who, when honest with themselves, do not wish to be in a leadership role and long for the days when they were the individual contributor, the salesperson or the engineer.”2 In other words, because it is considered more favorable to be a leader, most people will attempt to be leaders. The fact that everyone is not the best fit for leadership positions is what causes the breakdown of the organizational system. Leadership requires creativity and innovation, but if everyone is trying to be innovative then no one is following through with the actions it takes to make changes. The writers of “The Leader Follower Relationship” further explain the problems that improper leadership and followership create. “For everyone to try and lead or to innovate is a waste of resources. Innovation requires a significant commitment of time, energy and money. Most individuals and organizations would be best served by letting others, with more capabilities and resources, lead. Those municipalities dedicated to innovation only end up wasting scarce resources. It makes far more sense for those municipalities who have the financial resources and who can hire the “best and the brightest” to provide innovation for other municipalities to follow when appropriate.”3 It might be most necessary to explore the different facets of followership. Since people find it nobler to be a leader than a follower and this connotation over time hurts workforce productivity, the most reasonable idea would be to redefine the follower relationship and express it terms of the power of followership. As we know, one cannot be a leader without followers or even have followers until they have made a distinct choice to follow the leader in question. As a leader, you must appeal to those you expect to follow in some way to...
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