Chapter 5. Followership: An Outmoded Concept

Joseph Rost

The theme of this chapter is that followership as a concept and practice is out of tune with the twenty-first-century paradigmatic revolution evolving as we witness the world changing dramatically. Followership is discordant with the dominant melody being played in our culture and the culture of many (not all) nations throughout the world.

Conceptually, this is the easiest part of the follower problem to solve in leadership studies. But practically, it remains a difficult language problem for leadership scholars and practitioners, as it fits with the traditional and dominant leadership model. Followership is the issue discussed in the first part of this chapter.

The tougher issue is the concept of followers. The second section of this chapter addresses the problematic use of the word followers. The concept of followers is at the root of the problem, however one might want to frame the issues. Followers, as a concept, present modern scholars and practitioners of leadership with difficulties that are not easily resolved. In an attempt to be helpful, I present some ideas that will, I hope, contribute to several resolutions of this issue.


I have stated my views on followership in my book Leadership for the Twenty-First Century quite clearly.[81] I have read or seen little that would make me want to change my thinking since the book was published. As a result, the argument in this first section is much the same as that ...

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