Followership and Leadership in Medium-Sized Enterprises in the Republic of Bulgaria

Followership and Leadership in Medium-Sized Enterprises in the Republic of Bulgaria

Silvena Dencheva Yordanova (Varna University of Management, Bulgaria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5784-5.ch014


Good leaders need followers. Without great followers, leaders would become schizophrenics sitting in their offices talking to themselves. Can a person be defined as good leader if he does not have any people to believe in him, to follow his example, to trust him? Followership is a process when the person has the capacity and willingness to follow the leader when having some target. In other words, being a good follower means having the skills, the abilities, and the desire to follow the leader in achieving the goals. The chapter aims to define what is followership, how it is related to leadership, especially in business organizations such as medium-sized enterprises. Thus, followership can be perceived as a mutual process in which the leaders and followers interact, help each other to reach the aims on individual and organizational level. The importance of followership to the leader will be analyzed followed by author's recommendations for the future and a conclusion.
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Background With Literature Review On Followership And Leadership

Followership has been perceived as a passive part of the relationship between leader and manager. Our main research hypothesis is that:”Followers are active and they retain in the organization if satisfied with the relationship with their leader”. In this regard, the chapter presents followership as new approach to leadership, types of followers and its importance for the leader.

The chapter is organized in the following way. At first, we conduct literature review on the topic of followership. We present its evolution as an approach historically. After that we present its main characteristics and types of followers. The hypothesis is tested in a survey conducted among IT companies and the factors that retain followers in the organization. Leadership can be defined as influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect mutual purposes. Mutual purposes are coming from the common enterprise as leaders and followers do together leadership. The followership comes from the word follow. In this regard, Ford and Harting (2015) perceived that it has passive meaning, such as being a follower is related to subordinate to the leader. The word followership is associated with negative meaning as with passivity and dependence (Hoption, 2014). They have been referred to as “drab powerless masses” (Burns, 1978) and “sheep” (Dixon & Westbrook, 2003) as cited by Hoption, (2014). In her study she suggested that followers in organizations acknowledge negative stereotypes as part of their identities. Given the empirical studies linking selfesteem, self-efficacy, and positive affect to work performance, as well as evidence for stereotype-threat (Hoption, 2014), awareness of and identification with negative follower stereotypes likely impedes effectiveness. Therefore, followership education should work towards countering negative follower stereotypes and preparing students to excel in follower roles (Hoption, 2014).

The origins of followership are linked to religion as it can be seen from Table 1.

Table 1.
Institutions with followership orientation
Traditional Institutions of FollowershipFollowership FoundationConsequences of a Void in Followership
ReligionDiscipleship and stewardship, service to othersThe religious beliefs would not spread and the institution would collapse.
MilitaryAdherence to Chain of Command and following ordersAuthority would not prevail, orders could be questioned and discipline would dissipate.
PoliticsParty LoyaltyPolitical ideologies and strongholds would be eroded and crumble.
SportsThe team above selfTeams would not excel only individualism would exist.

Source: Blackshear, P. (2004).

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