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INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP ASSOCIATION'S FOLLOWERSHIP COMMUNITY OF LEARNING where those with curiosity about followership and leader-follower relations can explore these subjects in whatever depth they choose through study groups, relevant news and events, research, shared projects and resource links.


Registered users can enter information directly and make collaborative decisions about what this site contains and how it functions. Anyone may browse but those who wish to participate by posting and editing information should contact one of the administrators, Ira Chaleff or Elisabeth Higgins Null, for a special invite key (password). Please note that membership in the International Leadership Association (ILA) is encouraged, but not required, to participate in our learning community. Learn more about ILA. Join ILA.




Press "Edit Page" (above) to post here. Please

consult "GUIDELINES" (sidebar) before posting for the first time.





Current News: Milgram Experiments Revisited


Carey, Benedict "Mind: Decades Later, Still Asking: Would I Pull That Switch?" New York Times, July 1, 2008

Two new papers illustrate the continuing power of Stanley Milgram’s shock experiments — and the diverse interpretations they still inspire.


New Online Articles  Posted


Gilbert, Jillian and Sergio Matviuk "The Symbiotic Nature of the Leader-Follower relationship and Its Impact on Organizational Effectiveness,Academic Leadership: The Online Journal, Vol. 6, #4, 2008


"Social Technology and the Biology of Leadership,"   TechExecSociety, September 9, 2008

In the introduction to "The Art of Followership" Warren Bennis tells us that "Generously supported researchers are even now using functional magnetic resonance imaging to explore how leaders and followers think. The best of that work will be a worthy addition to the insights offered by this volume." This article is a useful example of what he meant. The only flaw I see in this stimulating article is that the authors describe only the neurological effects flowing from the leader to his or her followers. I'd venture that future experiements will show the flow from followers to leaders playing an equally dynamic role. Of course, such findings may further beg the question "who is leading and who is following?" But certainly within formal leader-follower constructs it is useful to study and acknowledge the two-way influences-- Ira Chaleff


Mäkelä, Liisa, Pregnancy and leader-follower dyadic relationships: a research agenda, Equal Opportunities International

(Barmarick Publications), Vol. 24, 2005, pp; 50-72

Women are, in increasing numbers, participating in the labour market and are an important part of an organisation’s human resource pool. Nevertheless, women still face inappropriate treatment at work. One cause of this is family-related issues. In particular, pregnancy and  child birth present special challenges for working women. Discrimination towards pregnant women is commonplace in work settings. Problems are often related to individual work  relationships, for example, the one between the pregnant follower and her manager. It is important to understand problems that impact on women in working life that can disturb their job satisfaction, their performance and willingness to give their best for the organisation. Therefore, for the benefit of both employer and employee, existing practices in leader follower relationships during pregnancy are worth studying in more depth. In leadership studies, the Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) theory is focused on dyadic leader-follower relationships and is thus used here to understand this phenomenon. In the present article, the literature on pregnancy and work as well as on LMX is re viewed. On the basis of these reviews, a future research agenda is offered. The author's list of publications indicates that she has presented several papers, since this published article, that deal with the same topic.


Audio-Visual Materials Posted


Archived windows media file of a Webinar presentation by Barbara Kellerman on \"Followership\" given Feb 27, 2008 for the International Leadership Association.


 Bibliographies Posted


A bibliography on followership compiled in 2005 by Glenda Armstrong for the Air University Library of the Maxwell Airforce Base in Maxwell, Alabama can be found on our new MILITARY page.



A bibliography, "Dixon Followership Articles," authored by Gene Dixon, has been posted on its own page under bibliographies. Other focused bibliographies are welcome.


Annotated List of Articles on Followership for Government Workers


GovLeaders.org is a site founded in 2002 by Don Jacobson, a career Foreign Service Officer, and is designed for government workers. It recommends key articles on followership for those working in government positions. The recommendations are annotated and are supplemented by more annotated lists, in a sidebar, of books on leader-follower relations of interest to civil servants.





Ambiguity Advantage, a blog by David John Wilkinson (aka "PlatotheFish") has posted a series on followership. The first entry, "Theoretical theory and practical, pragmatic, practice" (05/14/08) looks at theory and the theoretical from the perspective of "a company owner" interested in staff training.The second entry, "Leaders and followership; the reality" acknowledges that the concept of followership "is starting to make the move from the academic journals and conferences to operational thinking" and that "a number of organisations have seized on the wording and developed their own (often less considered and more manipulative) versions of the term." With that in mind, the author reviews some of the central academic literature. He discusses and compares typologies of followership by Barabara Kellerman (06/24/08), Robert Kelley (06/23/08), Abraham Zaleznik (07/02/08) and Ira Chaleff (07/21/08) and also critiques models of followership (06/20/08). In his discussion of Ira Chaleff's typology, he makes the first public acknowledgement of  "The Followership Exchange," referring to it as "rather useful wiki." Chaleff's response to Wilkinson's discussion, originally posted as a comment, is also posted as a main entry. (07/22/08)


"Are Followers About To Get Their Due?" is an online forum (07/03/08), now closed, authored by James Heskett at Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge. Barbara Kellerman's Followership and the query she addresses, "where good leaders would be without good followers"  serve as the initial talking point. There are 77 comments to Heskett's introductory article and he summarizes their range and breadth.


"Follow You Will You Follow Me" is an entry on the blog, Molly.com (April 21, 2008) that discusses the meaning and usage of "follower" among those who use Twitter, the communications tool for quick text messages. As the blog's author, Molly E. Holzschlag, says:"The simple Twitter interface tells us who is “follower” to our Twitters. You can compare this with who you are “following” and a finely tuned interface will tell you who follows you, leaving all of us confused as to whether leading or following bears more persuasion." Alexander Zoltai posts a comment containing a brief biography of articles on followership. Holzschlag is a well-known Web standards advocate, instructor, author, and Group Lead for the Web Standards Project (WaSP). Among her thirty-plus books is the The Zen of CSS Design, co-authored with Dave Shea.


Simplicity at the Other Side of Complexity, a blog byPrasad Kurian, has an entry that discusses the different roles leaders often assume when they are in a position of followership.






Riggio, Ronald E. (Editor), Ira Chaleff (Editor), Jean Lipman-Blumen (Editor), The Art of Followership: How Great Followers Create Great Leaders and Organizations Jossey-Bass, 2008



The Art of Followership (selected for the Warren Bennis Series) examines the multiple roles followers play and their often complex relationship to leaders. Inspired by the first national conference on followership (conducted by The Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College and the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at Claremont), it contains contributions from many who attended and others from a host of disciplinesranging from philosophy, psychology and management, to education. The book explores the practice and research that promote positive followership. Contributors discuss new models of followership and fresh perspectives on the contributions that followers make to groups, organizations, societies, and leaders.


Kellerman, Barabara Followership: How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders. Harvard Business Press, 2008




Barbara Kellerman, James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, has taught the first course on followership at university level. In her latest book, Followership, readers can appreciate the ways in which those with relatively fewer sources of power, authority, and influence are consequential even as they are getting bolder and more strategic. As Kellerman makes crystal clear, to fixate on leaders at the expense of followers is to do so at our peril.



Parker, James F. Do the Right Thing: How Dedicated Employees Create Loyal Customers and Large Profits. Philadelphia: Wharton School Publishing, 2007


James F. Parker, former Southwest Airlines CEO, tells how after 9/11, Southwest made three pivotal decisions: no layoffs, no pay cuts, and no-hassle refunds for any customer wanting them. The result, according to Parker, was that Southwest remained profitable and its revenue passenger miles for 4Q01 held steady while the rest of its industry nearly collapsed. These pivotal decisions grew naturally from Southwest's culture of mutual respect and trust. Parker offers deeply personal insights into that culture, revealing how those same principles are used by other people and organizations. While not a study of followership per se, Parker shows how leadership decisions can help create a community of effective, committed, and outspoken followers.





Anders, George, "Management Leaders Turn New Attention To Followers." Theory and Practice, Wall Street Journal. December 24, 2007; Page B3 There is a WSJ forum related to this article that discusses the question: "Who's more crucial to a company's success, top management or lower-level employees.
Baker, Susan D. "Followership: the theoretical foundation of a contemporary construct." Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies,14, no.1:50-60 August, 2007 This article explores the theoretical foundations of followership in the years preceding the seminal work of Robert Kelley in 1988. A version may be accessed free (with brief registration) at the following link: http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-33343234_ITM

Bennis, Warren "Followership,"  National Association of Litho Clubs, 2008

"Perhaps the ultimate irony is that the follower willing to speak out shows precisely the kind of initiative that leadership is made of."


 Grillo, Michael "The Social Psychology of Leadership and Followership in Symbolic Politics Theory: An Experimental Approach to Studying Why Individuals Follow Nationalist Elites," Paper presented at the annual

meeting of the ISA's 49th Annual Convention "Bridging Mational Divides," San Francisco, CA. (Mar. 26, 2008) .pdf

This paper asks what are the factors that prompt individuals to support the initiatives of chauvinistic nationalist leaders? I argue that both the ethnic conflict and nationalist literatures have not given sufficient attention to the individual level factors that would prompt ordinary people to follow nationalist leaders and eventually engage in violence for the sake of their group. But rather, the majority of the research from both the rationalist and ideational traditions have deduced the factors that drive individual and mass behavior from theoretical assumptions and evidence the centers only on the actions and rhetoric of elites. Thus, while scholars have adequately addressed how elites can mobilize mass populations, they have given little attention as to why elites are able to do to so. To address these empirical and theoretical gaps, I develop an approach that builds upon symbolic politics theory and insights from social psychology. I contend that hostile myths and symbols evoke an array of negative emotions that facilitates more rigid thinking and an openness to taking risks, and that individuals support elites who offer an outlet for these emotions because it fulfills basic psychological needs such as having a positive individual and collective sense self-esteem and a feeling of control over the current situation and the future. I test both my modified symbolic politics approach and its rational choice competitor with a laboratory experiment that utilizes 200 undergraduate subjects.


Haslam, S. Alexander and Michael J. Platow "The Link between Leadership and Followership: How Affirming Social Identity Translates Vision into Action," Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 27, No. 11, 1469-1479 (2001)


Two experiments test the hypothesis that support for leaders is enhanced when their decisions affirm a distinct social identity that is shared with followers. In Experiment 1, participants showed less support for a leader who favored ingroup members who were relatively sympathetic to an outgroup position than for one who favored ingroup members who opposed an outgroup position. This finding was replicated in Experiment 2, which also showed that this pattern extended to support for the leader’s novel plans. Although participants indicated that they supported a leader who behaved evenhandedly toward all ingroup members as much as one whose behavior was identity-affirming, they were unwilling to back up the evenhanded leader with written comments and arguments. These data suggest that leaders’ capacity to engender active followership is contingent on their ability to promote collective interests associated with a shared ingroup identity.


Kellerman, Barbara "What Every Leader Needs to Know About Followers," Harvard Business Review. December I, 2007


McCrimmon, Mitch "Can You Follow a Dead Leader?" (ezine article, n.d. )


Mertler, Craig A.; Steyer, Sheri; Petersen, George J. "Teachers' Perceptions of the Leadership/Followership Dialectic," Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, October 15-18, 1997)

Study examined whether 67 California and Ohio elementary and secondary school teachers understood the role and importance of followership in influencing school leadership. Teachers provided demographic data and completed the Teacher Sentiment Inventory, which assessed the extent to which their specific actions and characteristics reflected their understanding of followership. They ranked statements associated with particular actions or beliefs concerning the relationship between the teacher and the principal. Results indicated that teachers fell into one of three styles of followership: exemplary followers (with high levels of active engagement and independent thinking), pragmatist followers (who perform required tasks well but seldom venture beyond them), or conformist followers (with high active engagement but low independent thinking). None of the teachers were classified as alienated (independent thinking only) or passive (neither independent thinking nor actively engaged) followers. Both men and women scored high on independent thinking in their work. Female teachers reported higher levels of active engagement in the role of follower than did male teachers.


PALVEN, PETER "Social Sounds," website.n.d. Solomon Asch's famous experiments on conformity are a crucial element of understanding follower behavior and followership development. Social Sounds," a Swedish sound art installation, explores  the topic of conformity in social groups - both animal and human, and focuses on concepts of entrainment, conformity, and obedience. This article serves as the "framework" to larger exhibits, not documented here. In it, Palven explains, "Social Sounds is a metaphor for social behavior... how people conform to surrounding trends to fit in to an adjacent pattern, or similarly how frogs synchronize their singing to each other."


Siegel, Michael E. "D'var Toray, Ya Verah, Abraham as a Courageous Follower" September 2006 The model of Abraham as a courageous follower highlights and contrasts modern examples: the Civil Rights Movement, Nazi Germany, JFK, and the Iraq War.


Van Vugt, M., Hogan, R., & Kaiser, R. (2008). "Leadership, followership, and evolution: Some lessons from the past." American Psychologist, 63, 182-196. A full .pdf of this article may be found by clinking on Van Vugt and scrolling down his list of published works.




Here are some reviews of books related to Followership that appeared the April 2008 issue of T+D, a publication of the American Society for Training and Development:


Ketter, Paula "Art of Followership: How Great Followers Create Great Leaders and Organizations, The". T + D. Apr 2008.


Leigh, Pam "FOLLOWERS TAKE THE LEAD Followership: How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders" By Barbara Kellerman, (Harvard Business School Press, 336 pp.) T + D. Apr 2008.


Nancherla, Aparna "Do the Right Thing: How Dedicated Employees Create Loyal Customers and Large Profits". T + D. Apr 2008





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