When ‘Good’ Leadership Backfires: Dynamics of the leader/follower relation

Katja Einola, Mats Alvesson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

This paper contributes to the understanding of relational aspects of leadership and followership. Our in-depth empirical study of the leader/follower relation uncovers how and why assigning team members into ‘leader’ and ‘follower’ positions may sometimes be a double-edged sword and lead to unintended consequences undermining both the team’s potential and member satisfaction. We report on a multi-voiced story of one team that at first looked like a well-performing one with effective, ‘good’ leadership and satisfied team members. However, a closer investigation revealed frictional understandings, unresponsiveness and dynamics of immaturization as the followers overly relied on the elected leader. Leadership seen as ‘good’ may indeed backfire and encourage satisfied, trustful followers to relax and focus on limited roles. Our study further shows the need to conduct rich empirical studies that capture views of all parties in a relation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-865
Number of pages21
JournalOrganization Studies
Volume42
Issue number6
Early online date11 Nov 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.

Keywords

  • followership
  • immaturization
  • leadership
  • process study
  • relational leadership
  • shared meanings
  • teams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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