The world is not made up simply of leaders and followers. The roles have always shifted (Baker et al., 2011), and overlapped (Kellerman, 2008), in one’s working life. This has not changed, but jobs have. Boundaryless careers, job insecurity and slack labor markets erode old certainties, and workers’ chances for advancement have been stymied or delayed. The question is no longer only what makes leaders and followers different, but what we can do to make followers more satisfied with their role. If we think of the impact that leadership and leader-member exchange have on motivation, performance and wellbeing (e.g. Nielsen et al., 2008 - for transformational leadership; Harris et al., 2011 - for LMX), it can readily be imagined that the extent to which followers are satisfied with their role can also impact these dimensions.
The project’s ultimate goal is to gain a better understanding of followership by focusing on followers’ perceived satisfaction with their role in the relationship with the leader. This dimension, called SF, is not just the satisfaction of being a follower.
Two specific goals will be pursued:
1) Investigating SF antecedents: Control variables linked to the relationship (e.g. duration of relationship, etc.); implicit theories of followership and leadership; personal variables.
2) Investigating SF outcomes: Motivation-related dimensions (work engagement, motivation to lead and to follow), as well as variables concerning health impairment (e.g. emotional exhaustion).
To achieve these goals, we will carry out a longitudinal study with three surveys (T1-antecedents; T2-SF; T3-outcomes). The study will use dyads of followers and leaders.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were chosen for the study, as the success of such organizations may hinge on followership that is satisfied. This is in line with Stoner’s findings (1987) that the experience, knowledge, and skills of both owners and workers are the true source of small firms’ vitality.
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