Top 3 Posts of 2015


Wondering what you have been reading this year on Leadership Archways? Here are the top 3 posts from 2015!

1.) 5 strategies that will improve your verbal communication skills.

2.) What is Organizational Behavior and Why Does it Matter?

3.) Followership: Why is it important for Leadership?

As we round out the year, it is important to look back on what has happened in 2015. The past year has been defined by historic farewells and debuts, as well as scandals and feel-good success stories. Here are just a few of the stories that made a huge impression on the public’s consciousness in 2015.

In the news, we have had a crazy year from the Charlie Hebdo Attack in Paris to fall of Greece’s economy, and Jared from Subway going to jail.

In the technology sector there was Excel 2013’s Flash Fill, Apple Watch, New Horizons’ Pluto pics, and October 21 (“Back to the Future” fans? Anyone?)

When looking at pop culture, there was the transformation of Bruce to Caitlyn, “50 Shades of Grey”, and “Saturday Night Live” turned 40.

Overall 2015 has been a exciting year and I know I am looking forward to what is ahead in 2016!




Distinguishing between Leadership and Management

Wheel and compass square

I just finished a conversation about the differences and similarities between leaders and managers. During the discussion, I brought up an analogy I have used in the past to describe them: A manager is the wheel of the ship and the leader is the compass, both are needed in order to get the ship in the right direction. Inspired by this discussion, I collected the concepts and comparisons of leadership versus management from the leadership literature.

Leadership is defined formally as the process by which an individual influences other in ways that help group and organizational goals (Greenberg, 2005; Yukl, 2012). From this definition, it may seem that leaders and managers are quite similar. Indeed, the two terms have often been used interchangeably. However, this is misleading insofar as they are conceptually distinct (Weathersby, 1999). The primary function of a leader is to create the essential purpose of the organization and the strategy for attaining it. By contrast, the job of a manager is to implement that vision. Managers are responsible for achieving that end and taking the steps necessary to make the leader’s vision a reality. The reason for the confusion is that the distinction between establishing a mission and implementing it is often blurred in practice.

That being said, many leadership scholars (e.g., Bass & Stogdill, 1990; Greenberg, 2005; Hickman, 1992; Kotter, 1988; Mintzber, 2003; Rost, 1993; Yukl, 2012) view leading and managing as distinct processes but they do not assume that managers and leaders have to be different people.  With this research in mind, I have outlined goals of and processes performed specifically by managers versus leaders (Kotter, 1990).

Leadership seeks to produce organizational change by:

1.) Developing a vision of the future and strategies for making necessary changes

2.) Communicating and explaining the vision.

3.) Motivating and inspiring people to attain the vision.

Management seeks to produce predictability and order by:

1.) Setting operational goals, establishing actions plans with timetables, and allocating resources.

2.) Organizing and staffing (establishing structure, assigning people to jobs).

3.) Monitoring results and solving problems.

Now that you have a better understand of some of the processes, it is important to note that management and leadership both involve deciding what needs to be done, creating networks of relationships to do it, and working to ensure it happens. However the two processes have some incompatible elements; strong leadership can disrupt order and efficiency, and strong management can discourage risk taking and innovation. Both processes are necessary for the success of an organization. For instance using strong management can create bureaucracy without purpose, and only using strong leadership can create change that is impractical. The relative importance of the two processes and the best way to integrate them truly depends on the situation at the time and the needs of the organization.


Bass, B. M., & Stogdill, R. M. (1990). Handbook of leadership. Theory, Research & Managerial Applications, 3.

Greenberg, J. (2005). Managing behavior in organizations. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Hickman, C. (1992).  Mind of a manager soul of a leader. University of Texas Press.


Kotter, J. P. (1988). The leadership factor (Vol. 10). New York: Free Press.

Kotter, J. P. (1990). Force for change: How leadership differs from management. New York: Free Press.

Mintzberg, H. (2003). The manager’s job: Folklore and fact. London: Routledge.

Rost, J. C. (1993). Leadership development in the new millennium. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 1(1), 91-110.

Weathersby, G. B. (1999). Leadership vs management. Management Review, p. 5

Yukl, G. (2012). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). New York: Prentice Hall.


Followership: Why is it important for Leadership?

Friends Playing on the Beach Trinidad and Tobago

Do you know when you are leading? The answer is by your followers. We have long known that followers are essential to leadership. Yet despite the abundance of investigations into leadership in organizational studies (Yukl, 2012), little attention has been paid to followership until recently (Baker, 2007; Bligh, 2011; Carsten, Uhl-Bien, West, Patera, & McGregor, 2010; Kelley, 2008; Sy, 2010). Furthermore, when followers have been considered, they are thought of generally as recipients of a leader’s influence. As the study of followers as a key component of the leadership process, through their enactment of followership, has been largely missed in the leadership literature (Uhl-Bien, Riggio, Lowe, & Carsten, 2014), I have put the definition and the constructs of followership theory below.


Followership theory is the study of the nature and impact of followers and following in the leadership process (Uhl-Bien, Riggio, Lowe, & Carsten, 2014). This means that the construct of followership includes:

  • A follower role (i.e., a position in relation to leaders)
  • Following behaviors (i.e., behaviors in relation to leaders)
  • Outcomes associated with the leadership process (i.e., performance)

If adopting a constructionist (process) approach, it also involves consideration of the co-constructed nature of the leadership process.

In addition to understanding the definition it is also important to establish clear boundaries for the study of followership (Bacharach, 1989; Cronbach & Meehl, 1955). Followership is the characteristics, behaviors and processes of individuals acting in relation to leaders. It is not general employee behavior. This means that the term follower is not the same as employee. For a construct to qualify as followership it must be conceptualized and operationalized in relation to leaders or the leadership
process and/or in contexts in which individuals identify themselves in follower positions (e.g., subordinates) or as having follower identities (Collinson, 2006; DeRue & Ashford, 2010).

Followership Constructs:

• Followership characteristics: characteristics that impact how one defines and enacts followership. Examples may include role orientations, motivations, intellectual and analytical abilities, affect, and social constructions of followers and/or individuals
identified as engaging in following behaviors.

• Followership behaviors: behaviors enacted from the standpoint of a follower role or in the act of following. Examples include the multiple expressions of overt followership including obeying, deferring, voicing, resisting, advising, etc.

• Followership outcomes: outcomes of followership characteristics and behaviors that may occur at the individual, relationship and work-unit levels. Examples include leader reactions to followers, such as burnout or contempt, follower advancement or dismissal, whether leaders trust and seek advice from followers, and how followership contributes to the leadership process, i.e., leadership and organizational outcomes.


Bacharach, S. B. (1989). Organizational theories: Some criteria for evaluation. The Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 496–515.

Baker, S. D. (2007). Followership: Theoretical foundation for a contemporary construct. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 14(1), 50–60.

Bligh, M. (2011). Followership and follower-centered approaches. In A. Bryman, D. Collinson, K. Grint, B. Jackson, & M. Uhl-Bien (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Leadership (pp. 425–436). London: Sage.

Carsten, M. K., Uhl-Bien, M., West, B. J., Patera, J. L., & McGregor, R. (2010). Exploring social constructs of followership: A qualitative study. The Leadership Quarterly, 21(3), 543–562.

Collinson, D. (2006). Rethinking followership: A post-structuralist analysis of follower identities. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(2), 179–189

Cronbach, L. J., & Meehl, P. E. (1955). Construct validity in psychological tests. Psychological bulletin, 52(4), 281–302.

DeRue, S., & Ashford, S. (2010). Who will lead and who will follow? A social process of leadership identity construction in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 35(4), 627–647

Kelley, R. E. (2008). Rethinking followership. In R. Riggio, I. Chaleff, & J. Lipman-Blumen (Eds.), The art of followership: How great followers create great leaders and organizations (pp. 5–16). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


Sy, T. (2010). What do you think of followers? Examining the content, structure, and consequences of implicit followership theories. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 113(2), 73–84.

Uhl-Bien, M., Riggio, R. E., Lowe, K. B., & Carsten, M. K. (2014). Followership theory: A review and research agenda. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(1), 83-104.

Yukl, G. (2012). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). New York: Prentice Hall.

The Future of Leadership


At the closing of the 23rd Kravis-de Roulet conference, Dr. Jay Conger, Institute Chair, of the Kravis Leadership Institute compared leaders to matryoshka, the Russian nesting dolls. This illustration stuck out to me because Leadership originally conceived of leaders as a sort of all-powerful super hero. Dr. Conger further explained that as the leadership field has grown, “we began to open the doll and look inside the leader”, noticing that within every leader there were multiple smaller dolls, each of which represented a new force that allows a leader to succeed or fail. With Dr. Conger’s talk in mind, I will present two important forces discussed at the conference that affect the future of leadership: context and followership.

Importance of context:

Leaders are traditionally seen as charismatic heroes, lone figures towering above their organizations. They are seen most in the military or business worlds – General George Patton, auto executive Henry Ford, computer guru Steve Jobs. But in reality, the success of a leader depends on the context or environment in which they work – that is to say, the deck they’ve been dealt. This applies even to heroes.

But as contexts (workplace, workers, the work itself) change as we move towards a knowledge-based economy, the “lone hero” isn’t always the most effective leader in this new world. A different type of leader has emerged as successful, especially when cross-agency and/or cross-sector challenges arise. In fact, the best leaders tend to share leadership vision in any large-scale change effort.

Harvard Business Professor John Kotter wrote the book Leading Change in the mid ‘90s centering on his observations of what leaders had in common. In particular, he described eight steps taken by leaders who successfully navigated change. These steps seem to be relevant to agency-centric environments as well as cross-agency environments when a transformation is afoot:

Step 1- Establish a sense of urgency
Step 2- Create a guiding coalition
Step 3- Develop a vision & strategy
Step 4- Communicate the change vision
Step 5- Empower employees for broad-based action
Step 6- Generate short-term wins
Step 7- Consolidate gains and produce more change
Step 8- Anchor new approaches in the culture

While these steps seemed to be common among successful leaders, how they were applied differed widely because the leaders faced different operating environments.

Importance of followers: 

It cannot be assumed that people will follow a leader. A follower has needs that must be satisfied by their leader, or they will cease to follow. When this happens, the follower becomes a leader – either leading themselves and others away from the organization or leading the organization in another direction. Organizations or businesses that take an honest and open look at this dynamic and focus on how to support both leaders and followers have the greatest chance of success.

Followership can be defined as the willingness to cooperate in working towards the accomplishment of the group mission, to demonstrate a high degree of teamwork, and to build cohesion among the group (Holden Leadership Center, 2014).

Sounds pretty similar to leadership, doesn’t it? Effective followership is an excellent building block to effective leadership. There are numerous sources to which one can turn to find helpful information on effective leadership, leadership practices, and becoming the best leader one can be. Fewer such sources exist to guide one to be an effective follower, although there are some. The following behaviors have been identified as those comprising effective followership (Holden Leadership Center):

  • Volunteering to handle tasks or help accomplish goals
  • Willingly accepting assignments
  • Exhibiting loyalty to the group
  • Voicing differences of opinions, but supporting the group’s decisions
  • Offering suggestions
  • Maintaining a positive attitude, even in confusing or trying times
  • Working effectively as a team member



Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change. Harvard Business Press.

Kravis-de Roulet Conference (2014). Future of Leadership. Claremont McKenna College. Hosted by Kravis Leadership Institute.

Holden Leadership Center (2014).