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Supervision and Followership Lessons


Past research on supervision has only concentrated on heads while ignoring the importance of followers. People who follow are a significant portion of the oversight equation and matter just as those serving as bosses. Persons in command cannot exist without followers since the two intertwine in a relationship. Without accurate leadership acumen, supervisors abused power, had unethical behaviors, and were selfish in the past. In effect, the static concept of leadership has produced unintended and unanticipated results in corporations. Changes were inevitable, calling for increased follower involvement since they are essential organizational change agents as oversight is not one-sided. Followers are also not the same and can act as diehards, bystanders, isolates, activists, and participants. For this reason, superiors should never treat employees the same, and leaders should understand that they execute duties to fulfill their self-interests.

Lessons Learned

There are notable lessons that the author articulates within the article. Kellerman (2008) stresses that bosses need followers and should strive to establish a viable relationship. Researchers criticize the model where those in power influence others while neglecting followership. As such, this calls for executives to comprehend their employees and how to influence them. Based on the article, assistants can hierarchically be categorized based on a continuum of low engagement to highly devoted or committed. Since individuals with less authority are inseparable, understanding them based on their involvement in institutions is crucial.

There are varying dynamics between subordinates and their commanders based on the level of action or inaction. Kellerman (2008) offers a novel typology that managers can capitalize on to appreciate and determine how junior workers are inherently distinct from one another based on the status of involvement. There are five types of followers: bystanders, isolates, diehards, participants, and activists. According to Kellerman (2008), an isolate is disconnected and passively supports managers with inaction. The bystander is a free rider but is not fully committed and acts to fulfill self-interests. A participant shows some level of engagement and can infuse money and time to achieve a noble result. An activist is highly involved and supports processes and people. An activist is ready to display and highlight opposition or support. On the other hand, a diehard is also committed and fully supports leaders. Diehards are passionate about an idea or a person and will give all to them.

Even though they lack authority, followers have influence and power. Due to technology and culture shifts, supporters can now challenge leaders. Their collective efforts influence institutions since they can capitalize on media to provide evidence against their employers. They can come together to highlight the shortcomings of their leaders. The changing manager-subordinate relationship calls for increased research in the area. As such, academics and practitioners should follow an expansive view regarding administration that sees workers and executives as indivisible ad inseparable.


Kellerman bases the emphasis on the subordinate level of engagement. It is the most significant facet in differentiating followership styles and, therefore, a powerful mechanism for controlling workers. Nonetheless, the involvement degree is the sole determinant of establishing the connection between inferiors and superiors. Dividing followers into various types allows managers to comprehend them through a novel lens of perception into how individuals can create organizational transformations. Understanding them makes it easier for managers to implement change. Furthermore, superiors should never ignore people who have less authority since they can make substantial differences in the world over time. Due to cultural and technological advancements, they have more control and can now impact their directors. They should also involve them in making decisions so that they can gain a significant level of support.


Kellerman, B. (2008). Followership: How followers are creating change and changing leaders. Harvard Business Review.

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