Good day to all Suara Anak Marudu bloggers and readers. After a while being in the siber world communicating predominantly with our locals of Kota Marudu (particularly our very own Kimaragangs); I noticed that among the most talked and discussed subject matter is that of the issue of leadership – and it is therefore, I feel obliged to share several of the academic research findings – particularly those of findings based on the hypothesis contented by Robert E. Kelly, one of the prominent scholar in the field of leadership – however, and interestingly, his hypothesis does not confined within the subject of leadership alone – but, to the extent that, even followers are also being regarded as leader in their own right. I owe you all an apology, as I could not provide a translation in our official language (Bahasa Malaysia) – none of my intention to show off.
To Sanguru, congratulation for your timely move in initiating the establishment of this blog; which indeed would be the most profound and insightful medium of communication and discussion. And, of course, by initiating this move, you’ve played a role as a leader in you own right as well – and simultaneously imparting your leadership qualities to the mass– and hopefully, it would be in turn, nurture us to become quality followers and leaders as well.
p/s Sorry for this lengthy article.
Followership is Leadership
Leadership is not one-dimensional; leadership is system thinking in multiple dimensions. In terms of systems thinking, the inclusion of organizational performers (followers) in the leadership process complements the notion that leaders are only responsible for about 20% of the work that is completed in an organization (Kelley, 1992). There are different styles of followers and mainly the exemplary follower provides for a self-leadership style from within the follower themselves (Kelley, 1992). The exemplary follower style can be enhanced through Leader-Exemplary Follower Exchanges (LEFX). This paper introduces a model for exploring the cycle of Leadership-Exemplary Followership Exchanges.
Leadership is the combination of tangible skills and personality to motivate people to accomplish goals. The focus of leadership is to direct organizational performers to accomplish organizational goals in an effective and timely manner. The characteristics of leadership include goals and values. As stated by Burns (1978), leadership is “. . . inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and the motivations – the wants and needs, the aspirations and expectations- of both leader and followers” (p. 19).
Organizations exist in every form of society and are prevalent in the basic day-to-day operations of life (Kelley, 1992) and definitions of organizations vary in many ways. Barnard (1938) defined an organization as “[a] system of consciously coordinated activities or forces of two or more persons” (p. 81). The combination of two or more persons working together implies the leader-follower scheme exists and, as with leadership styles, followers’ exhibit styles of followership. Kelley (1992) defined followership styles as “exemplary. . .alienated . . . conformist. . . pragmatist . . . and passive” (p. 97). These styles constitute the basis of the Kelley followership model and relate the followership styles to individual personality attributes in terms of thinking and acting in organizations. Individual thinking attributes are (a) independent critical, (b) dependent critical, (c) active, or (d) passive. These thinking attributes, like the styles of followership and leadership, give dimension to the philosophical notion of followership.
Exemplary Followership Banutu-Gomez (2004) stated that “To succeed, leaders must teach their followers not only how to lead: leadership, but more importantly, how to be a good follower: followership” (p. 143). Schaubroeck and Lam (2002) stated, “Regardless of work unit individualism/collectivism, supervisors were more likely to form trusting, high-commitment [relationships] with subordinates who were similar to them in personality” (p. 1132). This statement supports Johnson’s (2003) conclusion that “. . . followership modality variation . . . revealed that followers generally reflect modality that corresponds with the leaders’ style and behavior” (p. 110). Johnson’s conclusion and Banutu-Gomez’s contention that leaders must teach their followers to be good followers, displays a connection to Kelley’s (1992) notion that exemplary followership can be taught. To develop exemplary followership, leaders must educate organizational performers to become exemplary followers by demonstrating the exemplary followership attributes as developed by Kelley.
The following 15 attributes define exemplary followership. Exemplary followers, according to Kelley (1992),
1. Think for themselves 2. Go above and beyond the job 3. Support the team and the leader 4. Focus on the goal 5. Do an exceptional job on critical path activities related to the goal 6. Take initiative on increasing their value to the organization 7. Realize they add value by being who they are, their experiences and ideals 8. Structure their daily work and day-to-day activities 9. See clearly how their job relates to the enterprise 10. Put themselves on the critical path toward accomplishment 11. Make sure the tasks they are to perform are on the critical path 12. Review their progress daily or weekly 13. Increase their scope of critical path activities 14. Develop additional expertise 15. Champion new ideas. (pp. 126-166) Relationships and Culture
Building relationships while identifying with the leader of an organization and their vision is essential to good followership. Jehn and Bezrukova (2003) contended that followership is a people oriented behavior, and this behavior builds relationships between leaders and other followers, providing an environment that promotes all organizational members to focus on a common goal. Jehn and Bezrukova suggested that good followers may be a catalyst for change in an organization as followership “Inspires others to follow toward a common goal; creates enthusiasm and desire to excel; fully engages others; builds confidence; moves the organization ahead as one entity rather than separate parts” (p. 728).
As relationships are important between leaders and followers, the quality of these relationships are equally important factors in developing an organizational culture of followers who maintain the characteristics that promote good followership. Werlin (2002) contended that good followership relationships must build on motivation rather than control, and that instilling values into followers is essential to developing a culture of trust and good relationships. The balance of power between leader and follower; however, must be maintained in order to provide a culture of openness that promotes self-engagement.
A good relationship between followership to leadership requires that both leader and follower share elements of each (Schruijer & Vansina, 2002). Schruijer and Vansina contended that the characteristics of leaders and followers define the relationship that becomes followership and leadership. Wong (2003) contended that organizational cultures must involve and value all members of the organization, and that the characteristics of all members define the roles of leaders and followers. The identification and sharing of roles lead to LEFX.
Transformational Leadership and Followership Bass (1990) suggested the implementation of transformational leadership could change followers into leaders. Humphreys and Einstein (2004) contended that transformational leadership could motivate followers to be self-directing and increase follower performance. Changing followers to become self-motivated, self-directive and a leader from within is consistent with Kelley’s (1992) exemplary followership style. These examples from the literature fall short of explaining the perceptions these followers have of the change from the follower perspective, as the perspective is consistently from the leader’s point of view. Dvir, Eden, Avolio, and Shamir, (2002) longitudinal field study attempted to examine follower development as opposed to leader development in terms of followership, but the result of Dvir et al.’s study contended that transformational leadership improves a follower’s ability to think for themselves, thus continuing the theme that leadership makes the follower. However, exchanges of roles between leader and follower aid in the development of motivation and trust to form the LFX.
Leader Follower Roles
Townsend (2002) contended that the roles of leaders and followers change from that of follower to leader and back again, depending on the situation and demands of the organization. At times, followers can determine their faith in this role reversion, but other times, leadership must inspire the followers to be followers and eventually leaders (Jehn & Bezrukova, 2003). Jabnoun, Juma, and Rasasi (2005) found that charismatic leaders are able to instill a sense of purpose and vision in followers who will inspire the followers to identify with the leader. Identification with the leaders vision is essential to motivating and inspiring followers to lead.
Active Engagement Solovy (2005) stated, "Exemplary followers work beyond the expected to produce exemplary results" (p. 32). This statement provides an element of active engagement of exemplary followership, and a review of the literature (Dvir & Shamir, 2003; Johnson, 2003; Petrausch, 2002; Solovy, 2005) pertaining to followership and active engagement has yielded a connection between active engagement and followership. In a longitudinal study, Dvir and Shamir found that “collectivistic orientation, critical-independent approach, [to follower development] active engagement in the task, and self-efficacy, positively predicted transformational leadership among indirect followers” (p. 327).
Theories by Kelley (1992), Barnard (1938), and Chaleff (2003) implied that good followers actively engage and think for themselves. This supports the relationship between active engagement and followership in a way that complements the theories. The systems that support follower active engagement remain diverse in the developmental process, leader influence, individual performer character, learning, and the follower understanding of their role in an organization are key factors in developing a good followership mentality that supports active engagement. To implement change in an organization, the exemplary follower must understand transformational change and the role the follower has in transformation.
Both leadership philosophies of Kelley (1992) an Barnard (1938) emphasize teams as well as informal and formal organizations. Barnard’s philosophy contends that an organization “. . . is a system composed of the activities of human beings” (p. 77). This is in essence a team, and as stated by Barnard’s observation that cooperation is essential for an organization to function, suggests the notion of teamwork. This realization of cooperative systems is a germinal element of teaming and an integral part of followership. In comparison, Kelley (1992) embraced teaming as a component of followership. Followership promotes self-reliance among team members, and this self-reliance provides leaders with less need to lead and thus, develops followership (Kelley). A model for Leadership-Followership Exchanges
As long as there have been leaders, there have been followers, and leaders cannot accomplish what they do without followers (Kelley, 1992). Newell (2002) suggested that a growing trend in leadership is to inspire followership, and to this end, coaching and mentoring leaders to transform their followers into good followers is essential in today’s business environments. Managers must participate actively in the forming of good follower relationships (Vince, 2002) if managers are to benefit from the Leader-Follower Exchanges that promote sharing organizational goals consistent with enterprise wide vision and values. Figure 1 the Leadership-Exemplary Followership Exchange model illustrates the cycle of leadership-Exemplary Followership Exchanges based on relationships and culture, transformational leadership and followership, leader follower roles, active engagement, and development of exemplary followership as defined by Kelley (1992).
The concept developed by the LEFX model provides for a culture of organizational leadership that originates from the bottom up. Relationships developed between leaders and followers must be open to dialogue regarding the vision of the organization. Shared vision between leaders and followers will develop a culture of trust and lead to active engagement of followers. Leaders must educate follower to be exemplary followers and as such, provide followers with a sense of confidence that they have the knowledge to lead themselves as an active engaged member of the organization.
Banutu-Gomez’s (2004) contention that leaders must teach their followers to be good followers requires the development of concepts consistent with leader-follower exchanges that place leadership in the hands of the organizational followers. The model presented here illustrates the cycle of the Leadership-Exemplary Followership Exchanges based on relationships and culture, transformational leadership and followership, leader follower roles, active engagement, and development of exemplary followership. This cycle provides a path for leaders to develop exemplary followers within an organization through LEFX to develop organizations that can become self-directed and lead from the bottom up not the top down.