Leadership and followership have been an issue of contention over the course of time. Moreover, some individuals think that they ought to be in leadership to exude power and also to be on the right side of history. It is this that has made many individuals strives to be on top and be the number one to be able to exert the power and influence that they perceive leadership to bring with it (Brown, 68). However, leadership cannot be in existence in an organization without the presence of followers. Much studies and descriptions attributed leadership with characteristics, qualities, and values attached to bad or good leadership (Robbins, 15). There is, however, one factor that is constant, and that is that there is not a single individual that would be existent as a leader without the followers. Just as it is imperative to have air and water for human survival, there is a need to have leaders and followers in an organization to ensure its continued thriving (Kellerman, 84). It is also difficult to determine which is more important between leadership and followership in an organization since they are all integral parts of the whole structure or system. Robbins asserts that leadership is the ability to influence a group towards the achievement of a particular goal (Robbins, 14).
The leaders challenge the status quo, create visions for the future and also inspire the organization. A follower cannot split from the leader since they are the ions that shape up the style and also determine whether the leader achieves the objectives or otherwise. They may be defined as an individual who can be influenced to achieve goals. It is, therefore; clear that a leader must be the one that exudes the traits and also has the desire to follow since they are not always in front but during execution the followers lead the way (Brown, 68). It is this that leads to the interaction between the leaders and followers that creates the relationship between the two and is the building block of the leader-follower relations. Therefore, the leader-follower relations are imperative for the thriving of an organization.
The leader-follower relationships have evolved over time to facilitate with the critical information of sharing and also coordinating groups of people that are in action and also to ensure efficiency at such settings. Humans develop and also adapt some complex cooperative behaviors over time that have also been adapted and drawn up in terms of leadership and followership (Price and Mark). The leader-follower relations evolved over time through a process of reciprocal that led to the developments of positive benefits to both the leader and the followers (Shamir, Pillai, Bligh, and Uhl-Bien, 187). It is this has inspired voluntary leadership and followership within individuals. In as much the leader-follower relations first came from the need to have systems and also structures for sharing of responsibilities and also the need for solving problems, they fast became some firm of exchange relationship where the followers compensate the leaders for a given services that would have been difficult to run together as individuals. It means that the leaders played a role towards the followers while the followers reciprocated by playing their role towards the leaders leading to a form of relationship between the two (Price and Mark).
The leaders incur costs in providing followers with the public goods that they govern or watch over while in return the followers incur the costs of providing the leaders with the prestige and power that they exude over them. The leader-follower relations are therefore meant to be more reciprocal in that one gives to receive and vice-versa, and it also results in a form of mutual benefit to the parties which becomes motivating for the followers and also the leaders (Price and Mark). It means that the leadership and followership are individual parts of a whole that cannot function without the other and therefore there is a need for the cooperation and good relationship between the two. If there is an imbalance in the cost-benefit analysis between the leaders and followers, then the system may be dysfunctional or unproductive (Shamir, Pillai, Bligh, and Uhl-Bien, 187). It happens in organizations where the leader does not see, to play their part at exuding the benefits to the followers who are the employees and as a result, the employees may also show noncommittal through defiance or resistance and also a lack of motivation to benefit the leaders through playing their part.
Application in companies
In the majority of organizations in the contemporary society is beginning to build strong leadership strategies that encourage the inclusion of employees and leaders in the decision-making processes. Having the leaders and the followers play a part in the decision process leads to a feeling of mutual commitment and also fosters the leader-follower relations within such an organization (Kellerman, 84-85). For example, the recent past there have been organizations that had to make decisions on the model to take to tackle the economic crisis that rocked some of the industries. As a strategy to foster the relationship between the leadership and the followers some organizations called upon the employees to discuss and some even explained the possible outcome and the need to take some rampant decision such as downsizing the number of staff. If the leaders made the decision without involving the employees, they would feel targeted and also de-motivate those that had to be laid off. Some organizations also called upon the workers to decide on the criterion that was transparent and also all inclusive on those to be laid off instead of the leaders exercising their power. It made them take the loss of colleagues with more positivity as they understood the need for such decisions. Involving the employees in decision making is a great tool to ensure that they remain positive and also that they stay committed to the success of the organization as they played a part in such a decision (Shamir, Pillai, Bligh, and Uhl-Bien, 188).
Organizations have also adopted mechanisms that foster increase the interaction and exposure between the leaders and followers through team building activities, monthly dinners and also breakfast interactions that are all inclusive (Robbins, 27-28). The exposure of an individual to another increases the liking between the two because they feel familiar and hence presumed to be safe and comforting. It is the interaction at personal levels way from the pressures of the work environment that fosters the healthy relationships between the managers and the employees thus fostering and also cementing the relationship between the two parties. As a result of the interactions, there is increased commitment and also a healthy relationship that leads to productivity and ultimate growth of the organization.
A majority of companies and organizations base the productivity ad success of a particular leader or manager of a department depending on the collective performance of the unit. There is also some awarding done for the entire department with the head included, and it is this that further necessitates the manager or leader to have a good relationship with the members of such a department or segment of the entity. It makes them see the need of working collaboratively since their success and the ultimate success of the department depends on their individual working and also on the collaborative working to the attainment of the set goals. It makes it difficult for the leader to remain de-touched from the employees since they determine his or her success and hence there are the increased leader-follower relations in such a setup (Kellerman, 88). Leaders that maintain the best relationship with their followers are bound to be the most productive and fruitful. Moreover, the leaders as they expect the members to achieve so as they may achieve as well may have incentives for them by having internal rewarding systems so as to motivate the employees to play their role. They may also organize for departmental team buildings and also provide feedback amongst themselves to grow one another. Such a leader may also represent the employees at another level ensuring that their needs are met, such as pay rise and also ensure the working conditions in their department are good. It is the cost that he has to pay to motivate the employees to in turn repay by working harder to ensure that they surpass the departmental goals to make the leader proud as well.
The leader-follower relations requires that there be a frequent interaction that leads to the shared understanding and also the mutual respect that results to the attainment of the set goals (Kellerman, 89). There is a need that the leader-follower relationship is fostered in every organization, and also, there be some form of mutual commitment and effort as well the input of both ideas and responsibility. There is a need to value the opinions, ideas as well as the responsibility for each party. It is this that the organizations and all setups that involve leaders and followers (Kellerman, 90). It is also necessary that organizations realize that; without followers there would be no leaders, and therefore, the need to ensure that both parties are kept within the same range of respect and also their benefits match one another. Organizations that offer too many advantages to the leaders at the expense of the followers may lead to lower productivity since it disconnects the two that must work together for the benefit of the organization as a whole (Shamir, Pillai, Bligh, and Uhl-Bien, 210). Therefore, the benefits of the employees need to be within the range of the organizational or rather they need to be fair by the level of work and input they make towards the organization’s achievement of its goals. It is not enough to highly remunerate and offer benefits to the organizational leaders if the employees are not content since the success of the leaders is highly dependent on the commitment and motivation of the followers who are the employees. It is the employees that determine how far, when and how the leader will reach individual goals and hence, the need to consider them as well. It is also evident that the leader-follower relations are imperative for the thriving of an organization and also to its success and therefore needs to be safeguarded and fostered at all levels.