Understanding Followership: The Other Side of Leadership

Understanding Followership: The Other Side of Leadership
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2023-03-09
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Understanding Followership: The Other Side of Leadership
Unit 2Transcript: Understanding Followership: The Other Side of Leadership
Unit 3Workbook: Understanding Followership: The Other Side of Leadership
Unit 4Recording: Understanding Followership: The Other Side of Leadership

The idea of being a follower may conjure thoughts of sheep being herded, blindly obeying what is being asked of them. However, effective followers are required for there to be effective leaders. This webinar explores how followership and leadership must exist together and are complementary for organizations to be truly successful.

This session’s instructor is Ed Pallas, the District Commander of the Montgomery County Department of Police (MCP) in Maryland. He’s served the MCP for 27 years where he’s been assigned to different roles including the Director of the Training & Education Division and the Major Crimes Division, and the leader of the Crisis Negotiation Team.

Specifics of Ed’s discussion include:

  • Our implicit bias about the F word – follower – and the need to reframe how we see it because the best followers make the best leaders.
  • Comparing the training law enforcement provides at the entry level and training upon promotion to a supervisor role.
  • How leadership and followership are the two sides of the same coin and are thus highly intertwined.
  • Understanding leadership in terms of the ability to influence, engage and prepare followers for leadership roles.
  • The false dichotomy of leadership vs. followership when these are not mutually exclusive conditions, and an individual can be both at the same time.
  • Bernard Bass’ concept of Pathological Followership
    • How blind obedience and absence of critical thinking can be harmful to the follower, the leader, and even the organization.
    • The types of people who are vulnerable to pathological followership.
    • The importance of healthy and ethical forms of followership where followers are empowered and encouraged to critically evaluate the actions of their leaders and make informed decisions.
    • Examples of how pathological leadership and blind obedience led to different levels of harm as seen in a medical error, the death of 900 cult followers, and genocide in Nazi Germany.
    • The Milgram Experiments that revealed how far people are willing to obey instructions to harm other people.
    • A caution to leaders to be careful in their asks and demands of their followers so as to not encourage blind obedience.
  • The different models of followership to consider when aiming to become an effective follower
    • The four top qualities of good leaders – honest, forward-looking, inspiring, and competent – and how these same parameters apply to followers.
    • The different types of followers according to Barbara Kellerman as it relates to their level of engagement and participation.
    • The concept of courageous followership that emphasizes an active, strategic, and ethical approach, and its five dimensions in terms of the courage to assume responsibility, serve, challenge, participate in transformation, and take moral action.
    • The five styles of followers and the area in the quadrant they fall into based on their critical thinking ability and engagement.
    • How to turn all the other styles of followers into exemplary followers by practicing psychological safety in the workplace where people are encouraged to speak up and make mistakes without the fear of rejection, ridicule, or reprimand.

Questions from the webinar attendees are about:

  • Turning a yes person into a more critical-thinking exemplary follower.
  • Getting people to understand that it entails a good follower to become a good leader.
  • Important followership traits to carry on in leadership.
  • How the best followers tend to be great team members.
  • Being a good follower to, and in spite of, a bad leader.



Other Webinars with this Presenter


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Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “The Presenter’s enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge were AWESOME. Please schedule this for 1 hr and 30 minutes and people will definitely not leave or be bored. Thanks!!!” — Vivian
  • “The entire topic was great. Understanding the benefits of followership and how to change your thinking around what the word implies.” — Lorraine
  • “The Kelley model was remarkable. I work in the social services field and could benefit from followership. One of the most valuable things I’ve learned was the toxic followership and how dangerous that could be in the workplace. I equated that to the power/control wheel model as well, because a charismatic BAD leader has a sort of power over their followers which in turn become a power/control cycle. The leader is aware of their power and misuses it. I want to learn more about becoming an exemplary follower.” — Desiree
  • “It showed so much more than what I thought a follower was, that it is not at all a bad thing. Most people are followers, and the breakdown of the different types of followers really explained a lot of what I see every day in the office.” — Eric
  • “The term “followership” was a new one for me and I think it was well explained. — Adarine
  • “I enjoy the topic and discussion of leadership and followership. I appreciated the vast amount of references the presenter provided for my own research.” — Michael
  • “I am new to my role as a supervisor and am finding my way. I appreciated hearing about the 5 dimensions of courageous followership, the different types of followers, and psychological safety! I also appreciate the book list!” — Caroline
  • “I learned so many valuable things. The most valuable thing I learned is followership is not the other “f” word. I anticipate watching the recording of this webinar again soon to reference all of the incredibly insightful information provided by Dr. Edward Pallas. Thank you!” — Jeanine


Additional Resources
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Thoughts on Leadership and Followership from Dr. Ed Pallas
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After the Webinar: Understanding Followership. Q&A with Dr. Ed Pallas
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