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Followership and Servant Leadership


As a relatively new concept, servant leadership poses numerous challenges for modern leaders seeking the best management approach. This style is often critiqued for being too similar to followership. While it has some identical core characteristics, understanding what is different is essential in shaping one’s approach to an organization. This essay compares and contrasts servant leadership and followership in an attempt to highlight their importance.

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When comparing and contrasting the two concepts, addressing their definitions is essential. Servant leaders are characterized by their traits and goals like “listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community” (Leadership, n.d., p. 2). Thus, a servant leader has a particular set of qualities and intentions that target the balance between the pursuit of the goal and the personal development of the followers.

On the other hand, followership is defined as the foundation of group work, and the followers are the primary recipients of one’s leadership. A model developed by Kelley has emphasized: “independent critical thinking and active participation” as two dimensions of the effectiveness of a follower (Corrothers, 2009, p. 6). Consequently, the role of a follower dynamic significantly relies on one’s guidance and analytical skills.

Comparing and Contrasting

Both similarities and differences can be found between the two notions. For instance, followers and leaders have to be critical thinkers. Independence is another identical characteristic: followers need to be “self-reliant in implementing organizational goals,” while managers have to be autonomous to maintain the authority (Corrothers, 2009, p. 8). The third similarity is emotional intelligence since the followers are cooperation-oriented and leaders need to be “healing, listening, and empathetic” (Leadership, n.d., p. 2). Nonetheless, followers are intrinsic and self-focused, unlike servant leaders who aim to facilitate the growth of others. Additionally, followers act as passive recipients of guidance that the manager actively provides (Leadership, n.d). As opposed to the long-term vision of the organizer, task-oriented followers lack conceptualization.


In conclusion, despite numerous commonalities between servant leadership and followership, they serve different goals. A follower acts as a part of the community and focuses on internal growth to reach the team’s goal, while the manager is motivated to sustain the growth of the followers externally. However, the similarities like prioritizing the group’s dynamic make servant guidance a valuable style that contributes to better teamwork.


Corrothers, E. (2009). Say no to “Yes Men”: Followership in the modern military. Air Command and Staff College Air University.

US Army Sergeants Major Academy. (n.d.). Leadership [Class reading]. US Army Sergeants Major Academy.

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