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Followership and Leadership in Healthcare


This paper aims to identify patterns of the followership styles and their relation to the leadership styles with a particular emphasis on the healthcare sector. The analysis is based on a review of scholarly articles on the interaction between followership and leadership in healthcare. The results reveal that there are different forms of followership type with the primary model encompassing “alienated,” “passive,” “conformist,” and “exemplary” followers. Further, the results show that the most prevalent leadership styles are the thought, courageous, inspirational, and servant leaders. Followership and leadership need to interact positively for the benefit of healthcare administration for the ultimate delivery of quality services. Furthemore, the paper will focus on the followership and leadership assessment and how the respect followers can improve on the areas that need adjustment. It will entail a five-year development plan that indicates how leaders and followers can work of their respective abilities using different approaches.

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Leaders make decisions within organizations and cause others to support and implement the resolutions. Leaders utilize rewards, binding force, and interpretations of culture to obtain the collaboration of others. Leadership in its highest form develops a common understanding with followers and changes their primary ways of thinking. This paper seeks to create a comprehensive list of desirable followership styles and traits. It also highlights the leadership styles and qualities specific to the healthcare administration field and role. The description further involves a discussion of the importance of each of the styles and traits to success, especially in the healthcare administration field and role. Principally, followership and leadership are important in healthcare since they facilitate the delivery of quality and safe services to the patients.

Relationship between Followership and Leadership Styles and Their Traits

Followership is the capacity for subjects to meritoriously obey the instructions and back the determination of a leader to make the best use of a structured organization. Stewart (2019) states that followership does not depict any form of negativity, but people generally associate it with undesirable and patronizing words like weak, passive, and compliant. Leadership entails the power to influence people in the desired direction. A leader has to exercise the mandate through different ways that define their role in ensuring the organization attains the intended objectives.

Followership has further been described into different variations such as “bystanders”, “isolates”, “activists”, “participants”, and “diehard” or ‘resource’, ‘partner’, ‘implementer’, and ‘individualistic’ (Bjugstad et al., 2006). However, according to Stewart (2019), the main typology of followership involves the ‘alienated’ follower who is independent, proficient, and a critical thinker. Secondly, the “passive” follower is judged to lack ambition and novelty and is therefore inclined to be highly reliant and under-enthusiastic in performing their mandate (Gardam, 2020). Thirdly, the “conformist” follower seeks to satisfy the leader’s desires by praising the ruler’s decisions and actively implementing them. However, they do not analytically participate in formulating the decisions or their mode of implementation. Lastly, “exemplary” followers have the potency to question the leadership, and they are innovative and independent; hence highly critical to the success of any organization (Bjugstad et al., 2006; Thornton, 2013). They can easily interact with other associates and present themselves reliably to all they associate with.

Leadership is perceived to be of more excellent value than followership because it effectively coordinates activities to accomplish the objectives. Varpio and Teunissen (2020) state that in rewarding leaders, followers are generally forgotten despite their active role in making the success. That’s why there has been little consideration for followership compared to leadership. In general, people feel uncomfortable using the term ‘followers’ hence the low level of research on the topic. Therefore, effective leadership ought to let lose the optimum potential of the followers to propel them to reach greater heights and go farther than they formerly thought (Gnambs, 2017). Such leadership is founded on the belief that people, groups, and even countries hold undiscovered capacities and unexploited wealth.

In general, influential leaders can be summed up into four main types: 1. Thought leaders seek to tie together the power of thinking to realize change by actively stretching the followers to visualize new potentials. 2. Courageous leaders come out strongly to chase their vision irrespective of any risks or opposition. They strongly believe in their purpose/mission, values, and long-term goals/vision. 3. Servant leaders come out as individuals who sincerely care for others. Bjugstad et al. (2006), manifest this character by removing the blockades and impediments that hold others from attaining their unlimited potential. They make every effort to craft an environment where their followers can do their finest work leading to better results.

Finally, inspirational leaders are characterized by their prospect to support change by the supremacy of their zealous pledge to accepted wisdom and ideals. They can engage their gift and use the power of words to stir up confidence make stronger convictions that inspire others to act. They have positive attitudes that build solid emotional relations with people. In research by Varpio & Teunissen (2020), it is stated that inspirational leaders prefer to use words such as freedom, justice, pride, honor, respect, and love that bring people together and inspire hope. Their encouraging conduct shapes the self-confidence of their followers and provokes their unswerving commitment. Inspirational leaders can easily explain the importance of their preferred course of action in urgent situations and detail the actionable steps people need to embrace.

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Followership and Leadership Expectations in Healthcare Administration

Leadership is a crucial element in attaining organizational objectives, particularly in healthcare. Healthcare administration involves various operations through different people, systems, and other resources. Garcia (2017) argues that administrations across different sectors call for effective leadership to attain the preferred result of high-quality and safe care. Skilled leadership inspires productivity, quality care, innovation, and creating a culture in which the followers tend to be more supported, empowered, and motivated. The outstanding traits of followership in healthcare administration are the ‘alienated’ follower and servant leadership. The preference for the alienated follower is supported by their capacity to act independently, proficiently, and be critical in analyzing situations. Such attributes will help the follower to ensure they provide the best possible care to the patients. On the other hand, servant leadership is preferred because it is founded on caring for others who mainly involve the patients requiring critical care.

The present-day healthcare environment presents complex challenges, such as globalization, shifting population demographics, tricky economic considerations, uneven government policies, and informational and medical technologies changes. The difficulties require the healthcare administration to implement constant reforms due to factors both within and out of its control. The situation further calls for effective leadership and followership. Varpio & Teunissen (2020) state that the players in the medical realm must balance their interests to produce a leader or follower distinctiveness from moment to moment. Such strewn leadership practices lead to reduced errors, infection, and mortality, better patient experience, improved staff morale, and abridged staff absenteeism and job-related stress (Blanken, 2021; Allen et al., 2018). In addition, through effective leadership, the followers, including those in non-formal positions, such as medical trainees, learn essential qualities required of them throughout their careers and cultivate a leadership character.

Furthermore, healthcare leadership is informed by evidence-based practices (EBP) that support change and upgraded patient outcomes. It is expected that the followership and leadership in healthcare will involve creating multi-disciplinary teams that provide better healthcare delivery systems (Stewart, 2019). In light of the constant changes in healthcare, the practitioners are expected to learn new competencies that are needed in transforming healthcare delivery. Competent and compassionate leadership can be attained by simply certifying that the roles are performed well and upcoming practitioners are supported in growing the career. Better leadership can be facilitated by finding opportunities to enhance the clinical skills and general knowledge of people who provide healthcare services. Schattke and Marion-Jetten (2021) indicate that such can be facilitated through basic training provided by arranging workshops and seminars, using training manuals, or deploying online training to show the commitment to the profession across the organizational local, and international settings.

Followership and Leadership Assessment

It is important for individuals to evaluate to understand their followership and leadership abilities. In a healthcare setting, various operations require personnel to follow an expert and the guidelines given during and off duty. It is important to comprehend and work together with supervisors on different occasions (Malakyan, 2014). Similarly, one can lead others to perform a given task or be the head of the department responsible for managing crucial activities within the hospital. Therefore, a person should evaluate personal strengths and areas worth improvement to be a good follower and a manager.

Followership Strengths


I am always committed to ensuring that all the directives given by the administration are executed in the intended order to enhance the safety and quality of the services. Working in a health care unit is very demanding from all directions, which requires an assurance to the leader that all duties will be managed accordingly. Whenever I commit to doing a given task, I give it my best for optimal outcomes.

Effective Listening

As a follower, in most cases, I take orders from the supervisor. Healthcare entails complex details that require an individual to be very keen and have the good listening ability. To be able to understand and put into action the directives, I ensure I take my time to listen effectively to the instructions. It is essential to ensure the required procedures are followed accordingly without any mistake that can risk a patient’s wellbeing.

Correct Judgment

Followership entails following directions and orders issued by the administration. It requires an individual to be careful and only execute moral instructions. I have a good judgment ability to distinguish between unethical practices and the right actions (De Zilwa, 2016). The capability enables me to work on the appropriate acts. Deciding on what to do after directives is significant in the health sector because it enhances quality and safety.

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Ego Management

Working amongst people and following directives needs a strong sense of understanding oneself. Healthcare requires corporation and engagement with other staff members. I can manage my ego to enhance the ability to fit and collaborate effectively with my supervisor at work. I have significant interpersonal skills that enable me to relate with people, which contributes to the success of the task. Character management is a vital aspect of my development in the field of healthcare administration.

Areas that Require Improvement in Followership


Courage is an essential element that a follower should possess as the main trait. It enables individuals to confront the leader about issues that might be off the work. I feel scared most of the time, and I find it challenging to challenge my supervisor (Gobble, 2017). Improving this aspect would make it easier for me to correct minor mistakes unintentionally by the supervisor. Having courage would also facilitate my ability to participate effectively in different areas of health care administration.


As a follower, one should have the necessary skills to perform the required tasks. Sometimes I find it challenging to undertake some duties delegated because I lack experience and knowledge on how to handle them. Improving my competence would hence my ability to play the roles in every position I hold in the administration. Therefore, to become a good devotee, I should have arrays of competencies in the field.

Leadership Strengths


A leader must show followers what to do, and to achieve this, it requires self-confidence. Leading by example is necessary in healthcare administration, in most cases, critical decisions are needed, and it is through self-assurance that other workers will believe in the option taken (Kumar, 2013). I am an assertive person, making it easier to instill courage amongst practitioners to enhance their output within the unit.

Excellent Communication Skills

Healthcare is sensitive since it deals with issues of patients’ lives that are vital. Therefore it requires fluent and direct communication when issuing orders. I can communicate effectively to people, making it easier to give directives in a simple, understandable term. The precise and detailed statement is useful in enabling health workers to remember the directions provided before commencing their duties.

Mentoring Ability

Like any other worker, health professionals require strong mentorship to enable them to overcome challenges they face in the work setting. I have the ability to connect and advise members on different problems they are encountering, which can hinder their productivity (Brumm & Drury, 2013). The guidance is helpful, especially for the new staff that joins the team to adapt to the environment quickly and at ease without taking a long duration.

Situation Awareness

I have the capability of understanding the happenings within the environment. This aspect is significant in comprehending what is going on amongst members that can affect or improve the delivery of services in the facility (West et al., 2014). Situational awareness prepares leaders to react if things are not in order, and immediate intervention is needed to improve the condition. The ability enables one to anticipate the actions of the physician; thus, immediate counter-measure is taken.

Areas that need Improvement in Leadership


Self-reflection is significant for an individual to have an insight into oneself. As a leader, it’s appropriate to have the ability to evaluate and recognize patterns of events. Reflecting allows for connecting areas that performed well and those that require improvement, thus making it easier to develop ways of overcoming the challenges. Reviewing personal behavior is critical in enhancing interpersonal development.

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Inability to Delegate Duty

In a healthcare facility, there are various tasks that should be performed within the stipulated time frame. Sometimes it is not easy to trust team members with some technical duties. Doing things alone may be cumbersome; thus, a leader should understand when to allow followers to manage other work (De Brún et al., 2019). Improving this aspect would allow all members to feel a sense of belonging and boost their trust. It also helps others to develop and become good leaders in the future.

Followership and Leadership Development Plan

Methods of Cultivating Followership Strengths

Evaluation of Performance and Feedback

Just like leaders evaluate themselves best on their performance, followers should also take the same approach to understand their effectiveness. When cohorts comprehend their abilities in terms of self-management, credibility, and shifting between different responsibilities with ease, they will know their strengths and areas that require adjustments based on the Feedback they would likely obtain from the supervisor. Understanding themselves would prompt them to acquire the necessary skills to perfect their roles.

Honing Followership Abilities

This method allows followers to build on their skills which are important in developing followership strengths. Having adequate knowledge is essential because a follower can easily improve the actions by being able to disagree in an agreeable manner with the leader. The approach would reduce the notion that followership entails following directions and create a different perspective about cohorts based on their roles.

Methods of Cultivating Leadership Strengths

Self-directed Learning

Engaging in self-directed learning is an effective mechanism to establish and cultivate relevant strengths necessary for leadership growth. Through this approach, I will focus on new areas that I have limited knowledge and skills. It will also make it easier to identify necessary resources to enhance my development. Being that I would undergo the learning on my own, I will gain a wider perspective of leadership.

360-Degree Feedback

Feedback is an essential tool that enables leaders to utilize learning opportunities from the assignments. 360-degree Feedback allows an individual to have views from different people within the healthcare facility. Various messages can be used to inform the manager about the abilities and areas that require adjustment (Welch et al., 2014). All-round information would produce a clear picture of the leadership competencies, which is significant in identifying the needed skills to advance the strengths.

Five-Year Plan for Continuous Development of Followership Abilities

Period Plan Strengths Areas for improvement
Year 1 Developing work ethics to ensure I act in accordance with the healthcare moral behaviours Good judgement ability
Effective listening
Independent thinking
Year 2 Courage and effective communication that would allow me to express personal concerns that are necessary to achieve the work objectives Self-awareness
Clear communication
Developing courage
Year 3 learning from other leaders so that I can acquire relevant skills and knowledge to improve my competency Commitment
Building trust
Year 4 assessing my performance abilities through evaluating feedbacks from the colleagues and supervisor Self-management Embracing servant leadership
Year 5 self-learning to improve on the areas of weaknesses identified through the assessments Taking initiatives Distraction from objectives

Five-Year Plan for Continuous Development of leadership Abilities

Period Development plan Strengths Areas for Improvement
Year 1 Self-paced learning to understand key attributes of leadership Creativity Inconsistency
Year 2 Mentorship program to ensure I acquire relevant knowledge and experience about managing people Communication Excessive critical
Year 3 Job rotation to ensure I have the ability to manage at different level of management Strategy Lack of integrity
Year 4 Job shadowing to gather more required skills to enhance leadership competency Relationships Micromanaging workers
Year 5 Professional Certification to indicate the leadership qualification Visioning Unclear goals


The present-day operating environment constantly evolves, requiring people to adjust to the speed. Therefore, organizations need to cultivate appropriate followership and leadership cultures to survive and be successful in the current difficult times. Even as followership has not been widely studied due to its inferiority to leadership, it is required that organizations have the best followers who will be instrumental in driving success. Different models of followership can be adopted, particularly the “alienated,” “passive,” “conformist,” and “exemplary” followers. Leadership has attracted wide admiration because it carries the prospect of driving an organization to the ultimate success in achieving the outlined goals and objectives. Alienated follower and servant leadership are preferred in healthcare administration. The respective followership and leadership styles are critical in healthcare administration in ensuring that the many followers and the intricate systems and processes are effectively managed for the ultimate goal of providing quality and safe care for patients. Practicing successful healthcare administration requires a good balance between followers and leaders in enabling better healthcare in the social order.

Followership and leadership require a thorough individual assessment to determine the strengths and possible areas for improvement. Different methods such as 360-degree feedback and honing followership are significant in enabling a follower or a leader to understand the abilities. Developing a continuous development plan that contains all the aspects of management and servant leadership makes it easier to adjust and perfect each role. Comprehending and reflecting on practices facilitate the growth of a follower and a manager, which is essential for improving the operations within the healthcare facility.


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