Followership: The Other Side of Leadership

  • 21st Sep'21
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The world has seen and heard so much about leaders and their leadership. However, rarely, it appears that enough has been said or written about followership. Followership can be defined as the follower of a leader who represents a specific skill that decisively makes leadership effective. Therefore, it can be aptly described as the other side of leadership where it completes a leader or cover for their lack of talent and skill in a specific field. After all, effective leadership is essential for any organization to thrive and grow and carry its vision.

Not always, even the best leaders and their team can carry out the vision and meet the goals. However, researches have shown that every organization possesses many resources to potentially identify their next leader to carry out the vision when the current leader cannot. But in all of this, does anyone wonder about the followers? They just keep getting overlooked and underappreciated in the grand scheme of things that continue to take place within an organization. So, let’s highlight the importance of followership that subtly gets referred to as the other side of leadership as it must be a part of the next-generation learning.




What is Followership?

Followership is characterized by individual or small groups of people who actively work towards accomplishing the organization’s goals. These individuals and groups work independently on their accountability and ownerships with the risk involved to complete a necessary task. It can be seen as a thankless job, where the followers don’t seek anything in return for their services. Rather the followers take great pride and personal satisfaction in embracing the followership like learning about entrepreneurship in middle school and doing the work they do selflessly for the organizations. The common reason that can be attributed to the followers who embrace followership are:


  • They believe in team participation and enjoy contributing to the team.

  • They are keen learners who try to learn about leadership roles they might get offered in the future.

  • They prioritize the success of the organization the most.


Types of Followers

When it comes to followership, you must know that it consists of different types of followers that can be categorized under two specific metrics:


  • Active versus passive followers.

  • Independent Critical thinkers versus dependent uncritical thinkers.


Based on the two specific metrics, below are the following types of followers:





As the name suggests, these people are known for surviving abilities who can adapt and conform to their situations.



Sheep are the passive followers who mostly carry out the order without putting their thinking in a situation. These people also lack a strong sense of responsibility.


Yes Man/Woman

They somewhere fall in between the active and passive people and are seen as active followers. However, they are heavily dependent on leaders and proactively agree to anything the leader would say.


Alienated Followers

Now, these are independent followers who sometimes carry out tasks reluctantly because of their critical thinking abilities. They often can be found dissatisfied with the overall decision made by the leaders of the organization. As a result, most of the alienated followers are unable to embrace the followership completely.


Effective Followers

These people are independent critical thinkers with influencing power who can carry out the task successfully without the help of leaders. In other words, they make for an ideal independent employee who can add great value to the organization.


Conclusion: Followership Must Be Valued

Followership must be valued at all costs as it is important to a leader’s success. Also, followers aren’t just a role as some followers can potentially excel and become excellent leaders if given a chance by the organization. Hence, identifying and developing followers with potential is equally important as grooming future leaders within the organization. The more people understand the importance of followership, the more their mind will open upto better thinking.


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*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.

About the author:

Sunny Samanta, OpenGrowth Content Team

A lone wolf by definition, a writer by heart, and a lost star with ambitions to light up the dark both inside and around me, sometimes by immersing myself into books or video games or traveling with a backpack to an uncertain destination believing that life is all about the choices we make and we don't.

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