Followership & Leadership

Followership & Leadership – Working together for organizational structure

by Ben Armstrong

tug of warThe tipping point is upon us, I can only speak in regards the building and construction industry as to the changes in culture and how it’s going about achieving new goals and visions. People in positions of power (Managers v Leaders) are realising the need for collaborative consultation among subordinates in their organisations. The acknowledgement of intrinsic motivation that’s needed for an organisation to grow and succeed is on the rise. It may only take one or two national or global companies to make a drastic culture swing internally for a whole industry to follow.

Let’s look at the need for followers and leaders to work in harmony with each other, in my research most of what I have come across in papers, journals and books are followers versus leaders and not the position of what syncing the two looks like. Can this utopia exist?

Firstly, both parties need to have the awareness that they are in a relationship and that every decision made reveals they are in a bond with their social arrangements. They will also have an understanding that they need each other to exist, there are different types of leaders & followers but the fundamental values of this powerful relationship is the need for

  • Support & Understanding
  • Trust
  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Mutual vision or goal

Naysayers will go on about politically correctness and how it has taken over the workplaces, how they feel they can’t express themselves freely anymore so as to not offend anyone. The reality is, that workplace’s are in a culture swing to being a friendlier place to be, where we can all fit in without prejudice to colour, race, religion, size or sex. It’s within these co-operative workplaces that everyone gets their qualities supported, both leader and follower.

Once the forever evolving relationship of the follower and the leader has been established, it’s the constant effective communication that is integral to maintain flow. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channelled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. The partnership will have the recognition of each other’s skills and how to use them towards achieving the common goal, this same discourse will be used across the greater team also. Bennis best describes this:

The tools of great followership are not so different from those of leadership, including the ability to persuade. In fact, given that followers usually lack the power to order and insist, they are wise to acquire a quiver of diplomatic tools, including an expansive knowledge of the psychology of human behaviour and mastery of such neglected persuasive arts as rhetoric and acting. Bennis, Riggio (p.xxvi, 2008).

A great example of the combined efforts of leaders and followers is the company Vinomofo based in Melbourne Australia; the link below shares the employee’s views about their workplace and exploits the values mentioned above, .

This leads me back to my question of Can this utopia exist? Well Vinomofo is just one example of how it can and what it looks like for leaders and followers to be in a harmonious relationship. Maroosis states:

Both leader and follower are learning to follow what is called for; what needs to be said, learned, taught as dictated by the situation; the one pointing out to the other where the learning or teaching needs to go. This is a dynamic, educational relationship of give and take. Riggio (2008, p.45)

We know that by the values mentioned above with a few others thrown in, that these mutually respectful workplace’s can and do exist, the challenge we face as an industry is how can we get all organizations ‘on-board’. The key element to this is us, and by us, I mean we as a unit inside our workplaces, we need to reflect on our own work environments and makes steps to improve or instil the correct values and implore positive ethical processes to achieve the desired vision or outcomes.

The battle organisations will face is maintaining the optimum social workspace as we are humans and fallible, but it’s with this understanding from both leader and follower that resilience will arrive and the company values will kick in.

Ben Armstrong


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