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Leader-Follower Relationship

Working with Other Followers

While examining the leader-follower relationship it is important to bear in mind that the dynamics are much more complex than those between two individuals. There are usually at least several followers who are close to the leader, and the interaction […]

Followers as Leaders

In different situations, at different times, we are all followers or leaders. The best way to learn to lead is to work closely with a capable leader. But whether or not the leader is a positive role model, to the […]


Leadership surveys show that trust is the single most important factor on which followers evaluate a leader. The reverse is equally true although the word “reliability” is often substituted when speaking of followers. Reliability is a composite of trust and […]

When the Leader isn’t an Equal

A different challenge exists when a leader isn’t as qualified for the role as a follower or, in a sense, isn’t the follower’s equal. There are many circumstances in which this can occur: organizational politics, discrimination, diversity values and policies, […]

Finding Equal Footing with the Leader

To look a leader in the eye and credibly deliver unpalatable observations or sharply differing opinions requires an internal sense of equal worth. Metaphorically, a pygmy cannot look a giant in the eye. Followers usually cannot match up to a […]

Differences in Elevation

Overcoming the sometimes very large differences in position within an organization can be a challenge in establishing a true relationship with a leader. Though we may work closely with the leader, the difference in the relative status or elevation of […]

Mature Relationships

Oddly enough, one of the challenges followers often face is helping leaders develop tolerance, decency and, in a sense, maturity. All humans struggle with the need to grow up, to accept that the rest of the world is not here […]

Balance Through Relationship

In different situations, different qualities are most needed and productive—courage, diplomacy, consistency, firmness—all are virtues which have their place. But any virtue taken to an extreme and used in the wrong situation can become a vice: Courage becomes recklessness, diplomacy […]

Courage of the Follower

Courage is the great balancer of power in relationships. An individual who is not afraid to speak and act on the truth as she perceives it, despite external inequities in a relationship, is a force to be reckoned with. Courage […]

Value of the Follower

Follower is not a term of weakness, but the condition that permits leadership to exist and gives it strength. Dynamic followers recognize their own aspirations in the leader’s vision. They follow their own light, which the leader intensifies. They give […]

Power in the Leader-Follower Relationship

Wherever an organization lies on the spectrum from “hierarchical” to “shared” leadership, there is always some power vested in the leaders and some in the followers. In shared leadership, the power is more balanced although one faction may accumulate power […]

Loyalty of a Follower

In the past, when relationships were more stable and lifelong social contracts were the norm, loyalty was unquestioningly given—to the clan, to the feudal lord, to the sole employer. Unquestioning loyalty is, of course, fraught with moral peril. Today, relationships […]

Who Does a Follower Serve?

“Follower” is not synonymous with “subordinate.” A subordinate reports to an individual of higher rank and may in practice be a supporter, an antagonist, or indifferent. A follower shares a common purpose with the leader, believes in what the organization […]

The Paradox of Followership

We are responsible. Whether we lead or follow, we are responsible for our own actions and we share responsibility for the actions of those whom we can influence. All important social accomplishments require complex group effort and, therefore, leadership and […]

The Common Purpose and Core Values

Any organization is a triad consisting of leaders and followers joined in a common purpose. The purpose is the atomic glue that binds us. It gives meaning to our activities. Followers and leaders both orbit around the purpose; followers do […]

The Dynamics of the Leader-Follower Relationship

I used to have aspirations to work closely with prominent leaders but found that when I was actually with them I would clutch, become tongue-tied, or engage more in flattery than dialogue. In doing this, I wasted whatever opportunity there […]