Followership and leadership are essential elements within an organization that depend on and affect each other. Since leaders can influence people, a follower’s ethical responsibilities are based on the manager’s character. Wang et al. imply that ethical leaders can reduce followers’ unethical behavior by being role models (450). Consequently, Stern suggests that under a good chief, followers are meant to accept orders and work towards accomplishing tasks and goals in an instructed manner (60). On the other hand, when deeming that the manager’s certain decisions are morally inappropriate, followers are responsible for changing the situation, as “working well for a tyrant is unethical” (Stern 60). Furthermore, for a follower to hold a leader accountable, the organization that they work in must have specific policies. In particular, to prevent employees from acting unethically, employers should implement rewards, sanctions, and punishments to control those both in managerial and subordinate positions (Wang et al. 464). Leadership and followership are interconnected, and while the former should inspire and facilitate performance at the workplace, the latter should be attentive when supervisors abuse power.
At my first place of employment, I have witnessed an example of how followers have affected leaders and organizational outcomes. I remember that when I was hired by that company, the firm had been encountering some troubles concerning employee performance. Shortly before I began my work, the organization had hired a new manager who was an experienced man but with a background in another industry. Therefore, the manager could not gain the followers’ trust and correctly identify issues. Nevertheless, one of the employees from a basic position but with a long history of working in the company had volunteered to assist the manager in learning the firm’s specific aspects. As a result, with the follower’s help, the manager started implementing changes and leading the organization.
Stern, Julian. “Do You Follow? Understanding Followership before Leadership.” Management in Education, vol. 35, no. 1, 2021, pp. 58-61.
Wang, Zhen, et al. “Not All Followers Socially Learn from Ethical Leaders: The Roles of Followers’ Moral Identity and Leader Identification in the Ethical Leadership Process.” Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 170, no. 3, 2021, pp. 449-469.