Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 31(3) September 2018 : 61-70.doi:10.12927/cjnl.2018.25676
Nursing Research

Refocusing Nursing’s Lens on Followership

Sarah Lopez and Michelle Freeman


The nursing profession has long acknowledged the importance of leadership and like many other professions has been criticized as "leader-centric." The role of leadership is to influence followers towards a common goal. Leaders, therefore, must have a clear understanding of followership, including the factors that promote followers' effectiveness and engagement. They must be able to identify following and non-following behaviours, and they must practice leadership styles that support effective followership. Although nurse authors in the 1980s and early 1990s advocated for the inclusion of followership in nursing education and practice, the role has received little attention. Currently, it is not included in standards and guidelines, and there are few nursing research studies on this topic. Our understanding of leadership is incomplete without also understanding followership; without the following role, there is no leadership role. The purpose of this article is to focus the lens on followership, clarify what it is, outline the different styles, explain the importance of the role to nursing and offer recommendations that guide its integration into the nursing profession.



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