Chapter 3. Three Perspectives on Followership

Jon P. Howell

María J. Méndez

Several important forces are operating in organizations today that cause people to assume a followership role. These forces can be viewed as responses to an implied exchange with the leader (for example, exchanging loyalty for security or performance for rewards) or to a lack of willingness or capability to assume a leadership role.[18] In this chapter, we hope to contribute to the understanding of this important role by offering three perspectives on followership. Each perspective reflects a somewhat different role orientation on the part of the follower. We believe that the three perspectives offer value to researchers and organizational practitioners in several ways. First, they may help organize the gradually expanding research literature on followership by clarifying the different roles followers play in organizations. Followers may work closely or at a distance from their leaders, with varying amounts of interaction and independence in determining their own actions. The perspectives described here reflect different leader-follower relationships found in the literature and in organizations. Second, the three perspectives described here may clarify why some followers have trouble adjusting to new leaders and may help followers prepare for their roles vis-à-vis specific leaders. A leader's expectations for a follower may not match the follower's initial perceptions of his or her role, creating dissonance ...

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