Professor Laurent M. Lapierre of the Telfer School of Management is the co-editor of a new book, Followership, What Is It and Why Do People Follow? (with Melissa K. Carsten of Winthrop University, USA). This work offers a collection of chapters written by thought leaders on this increasingly popular topic.
The term "follower" has traditionally been given negative connotations (images of sheep, "yes people," or mindless subservience come to mind). However, organizations can't have true leadership without some form of followership. Managers who have no followers are NOT leaders. Followers support those they consider their leaders. They enable leaders to exist.
With organizations much more reliant on followers now than in the past, particularly followers who show independent thought and constructively challenge their leaders, it is an especially opportune time to see followership in a different light. The follower role has truly evolved over time, just as the distinctions between followers and "non-followers" have become more visible and important. While leadership development receives the lion's share of attention in business education and a great many other fields of human endeavour, followership is integral to leadership and goes to the heart of how employees can gain the leadership they need from their superiors.