From forming our groups, to making decisions for the first rollover, this week has tested our capabilities as followers and leaders. Kelley (1988) emphasizes the importance of followers in achieving organizational success, arguing that whilst leaders are often credited for company performance, they would be nothing without effective followers. Thus we should not only look for effective leaders, but also effective followers to boost company performance. He stresses that characteristics of a follower and leader are inherent in us all, but are usually chosen depending on our role in a particular setting. Whilst many of us submit to a follower role, we often fulfil the role of a leader from time to time, just as managers would take on a follower role in an executive board meeting. In our MikesBikes team, many of us exhibit the qualities of an effective follower outlined by Kelley (1988); self-management, commitment, competence and focus, and courage, which surprisingly are some of the qualities found in effective leaders. This knowledge shows that despite being followers in many situations, we have the ability to become leaders, should the opportunity arise.
In contrast, according to Spreier, Fontaine & Malloy (2006) and Collins (2005), the right type of leadership is the key to organizational success. Collins (2005) claims “that the key ingredient that allows a company to become great is having a Level 5 leader: an executive in whom genuine personal humility blends with intense professional will” (p. 136). Quite similarly, Spreier et al. (2006) discuss high achievement drive as a contributing factor to leadership, identifying six leadership styles; directive, visionary, affiliative, participative, pacesetting, and coaching. They argue that “the most effective leaders are adept to all six leadership styles and use each when appropriate” (Spreier, Fontaine & Malloy, 2006, p. 77). Their key argument is that effective leadership drives an organization to success. With all this in mind, I wonder whether we as a group need to be effective followers to achieve organizational success, or whether having a team leader who exhibits Level 5 leadership qualities or the six leadership styles will be most helpful. I guess only time will tell.
Collins, J. (2005). Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve. (cover story). Harvard Business Review, 83(7/8), 136-146.
Kelley, R. E. (1988). In Praise of Followers. Harvard Business Review, 66(6), 142-148.
Spreier, S. W., Fontaine, M. H., & Malloy, R. L. (2006). LEADERSHIP RUN AMOK. Harvard Business Review, 84(6), 72-82.