Comparison of Followership and Servant Leadership

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About this sample


Words: 409 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

Words: 409|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022


Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Defining Followership and Servant Leadership
  3. Common Traits and Values
  4. Responsibilities
  5. Distinguishing Characteristics
  6. Conclusion


In contemporary organizational discourse, the roles of followership and servant leadership have garnered significant attention due to their vital contributions to effective team dynamics and organizational success. This essay aims to perfoma a compare and contrast analysis of followership and servant leadership, delineating their definitions, common traits, values, responsibilities, and distinguishing characteristics. By examining these concepts comprehensively, we can discern the interplay between followership and servant leadership within organizational settings, thus shedding light on their respective roles and impacts.

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Defining Followership and Servant Leadership

To embark on our exploration, it is imperative to elucidate the fundamental concepts of followership and servant leadership. Followership, as posited by the Civil Air Patrol, encompasses the pursuit of specific goals while upholding respect for authority, fostering a positive attitude, demonstrating integrity, and exercising self-discipline. Conversely, servant leadership, as articulated by Robert K. Greenleaf, epitomizes a paradigm wherein leaders prioritize serving others before assuming leadership roles. This ethos emanates from an innate desire to serve, culminating in a conscious choice to lead.

To augment our understanding of followership and servant leadership, it is imperative to explore their historical antecedents and theoretical underpinnings. Followership, often overshadowed by the limelight of leadership, has emerged as a burgeoning field of inquiry in recent decades, owing to its pivotal role in organizational dynamics and team effectiveness. Scholars such as Robert Kelley and Barbara Kellerman have contributed seminal works that illuminate the multifaceted nature of followership, debunking prevailing myths and stereotypes surrounding the passive role of followers.

Similarly, the concept of servant leadership traces its roots to ancient philosophies and religious teachings, predicated on the notion of servant hood as a noble virtue. Robert K. Greenleaf's seminal essay, "The Servant as Leader," served as a catalyst for redefining leadership paradigms, emphasizing the intrinsic value of serving others as the cornerstone of effective leadership. Subsequent research by scholars such as Larry Spears and James C. Hunter has further elucidated the tenets of servant leadership, delineating its core principles and practical applications across diverse organizational contexts.

Moreover, the intersectionality of followership and servant leadership underscores the symbiotic relationship between leaders and followers within organizational ecosystems. While conventional wisdom often dichotomizes leadership and followership as discrete entities, emerging research suggests a more nuanced understanding wherein leaders and followers coalesce in a dynamic interplay of influence and collaboration. This paradigm shift necessitates a reevaluation of traditional hierarchical structures, fostering a culture of shared leadership wherein individuals collectively contribute to organizational goals and aspirations.

Common Traits and Values

Both followership and servant leadership espouse a plethora of shared traits and values that underpin their ethos and guide their actions. Among these, respect, selflessness, honesty, commitment, and trustworthiness stand as stalwart pillars. Additionally, both followers and servant leaders exhibit qualities of active listening and critical thinking, enabling them to engage thoughtfully in collaborative endeavors and navigate complex challenges adeptly. Moreover, a proactive and flexible approach to problem-solving permeates the modus operandi of both followership and servant leadership, underscoring their adaptability and resilience in dynamic environments.


While followers and servant leaders share commonalities in their ethical and moral fabric, their respective roles entail distinct sets of responsibilities. Followers, albeit integral to the organizational hierarchy, bear fewer burdens of leadership compared to their counterparts. They are not obligated to possess the same level of foresight, awareness, or supervisory prowess as servant leaders. Instead, followers primarily focus on executing tasks and supporting the overarching mission under the guidance and direction of leaders.

Conversely, the mantle of servant leadership is characterized by a multifaceted and demanding array of responsibilities. Servant leaders are not only tasked with achieving organizational objectives but also fostering a nurturing environment wherein the growth and well-being of their subordinates are paramount. This entails cultivating a close-knit relationship imbued with trust, respect, and humility, thereby fostering a culture of collaboration and empowerment. Moreover, servant leaders assume a mentorship role, providing guidance, mentorship, and support to facilitate the personal and professional development of their followers.

Distinguishing Characteristics

While followership and servant leadership share overlapping traits and values, their distinguishing characteristics lie in the depth and scope of their respective roles. Followers operate within predefined parameters, adhering to directives and guidelines set forth by leaders. Their primary focus revolves around task execution and operational efficiency, with minimal involvement in decision-making processes or strategic initiatives.

On the contrary, servant leadership transcends traditional hierarchical boundaries, embodying a paradigm shift wherein leaders prioritize the needs and welfare of their followers above all else. Servant leaders leverage empathy, patience, and wisdom to nurture a culture of inclusivity and empowerment, thereby fostering a conducive environment for growth and innovation. Moreover, servant leaders serve as catalysts for organizational change, championing initiatives that prioritize social responsibility, ethical conduct, and community engagement.

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In summation, followership and servant leadership represent two pivotal paradigms that shape organizational dynamics and leadership efficacy. While followership underscores the importance of collaborative engagement and operational efficiency, servant leadership epitomizes a holistic approach wherein leaders prioritize the well-being and development of their followers. By elucidating the definitions, common traits, values, responsibilities, and distinguishing characteristics of followership and servant leadership, this essay has sought to engender a deeper appreciation for the intricate interplay between leaders and followers within organizational settings. As we navigate the complexities of the modern workplace, embracing the ethos of followership and servant leadership can foster a culture of trust, empowerment, and collective achievement, thereby propelling organizations towards sustainable success and social impact.


  1. Kelley, R. E. (2008). Followership: How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders. Harvard Business Press.
  2. Greenleaf, R. K. (2002). Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. Paulist Press.
  3. Spears, L. C. (Ed.). (1998). Insights on Leadership: Service, Stewardship, Spirit, and Servant-Leadership. John Wiley & Sons.
  4. Hunter, J. C. (2004). The World’s Most Powerful Leadership Principle: How to Become a Servant Leader. Crown Business.
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Prof. Linda Burke

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Comparison of Followership and Servant Leadership. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“Comparison of Followership and Servant Leadership.” GradesFixer, 10 Feb. 2022,
Comparison of Followership and Servant Leadership. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
Comparison of Followership and Servant Leadership [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Feb 10 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from:
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