Followership vs. Servant Leadership

Subject: Management
Pages: 2
Words: 570
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Bachelor

Leaders have to consider the impact that their behavior and decisions have on both the organization and its people. Hence, ensuring that the followers work in an environment that supports their performance and professional development is essential. From this viewpoint, servant leadership is similar to followership because a leader’s focus is on others. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the overlap between servant leadership and followership since both concepts imply focusing on others and showing respect and integrity.

Followership is the concept that explains the relationship between employees and managers or army leaders and soldiers where the subordinates follow the orders of their authority. According to Gryzhynski (n.d.), followership is “reaching a specific goal while exercising respect for authority, a positive attitude, integrity, and self-discipline” (p. 1). This means that followers’ main goal is to adhere to the orders made by an authority and reach the goals that their leaders develop. Positive traits such as respect and dignitary are essential for followership. After all, these characteristics mean that these individuals do something because they value authority and competency.

The servant approach allows leaders to exercise their authority to benefit both the organization and the subordinates. The idea of servant leadership may be traced back to the Bible, ancient Chinese philosophy, and Indian Arthashastra (Barden, 2017). Hence, it is not a new concept, and the approach was adapted from these ancient texts by modern business and army leaders to help organizations achieve success. According to Barden (2017), servant leader helps their subordinates reach their highest performance potential. Instead of viewing the employees as people who work for the leader, they aim to help these individuals. With this approach, others become a priority for the leader, and they use their authority and expertise to ensure that each individual can perform to their potential (Williams et al., 2017). Moreover, even the name of this method implies that the purpose of a servant leader is to serve.

Followers and leaders form a system, one cannot exist without the other, but in the case of servant leadership, the method has many similarities to the concept of followership. Leaders have to understand their impact on their followership and their development, which in the case of an army means that leaders should know that they affect how soldiers interact with each other and how they approach task completion. In this sense, servant leadership is similar to followership because the leader assumes the role of a follower for their soldiers. They assess the needs of the followers and try to do something that will help them perform better. In comparison, followership in its lessees implies adhering to the leader’s recommendations and doing what they require. However, the difference is that leaders have the authority and power to give orders, while followers do not. Servant leadership, by definition, means following the subordinates’ needs and ensuring that they reach their full potential, which is why it is very similar to followership.

In summary, this paper compared and contrasted the essential characteristics of followership and servant leadership. Followership means completing the tasks while showing respect for the leader’s authority and demonstrating the best qualities of the individual, which means that followers agree to serve their leaders. Similarly, servant leadership implies that individuals use their power and authority to ensure that their followers can reach the maximum of their potential, which can be viewed as serving the needs of followers.


Barden, E. (2017). The call for servant leadership and the need for followership. Web.

Gurczynski, C. P. L. (n.d.). Servant leadership compared to followership. Web.

Williams, W.A., Brandon, R.-S., Hayek, M., Haden, S.P. & Atinc, G. (2017). Servant leadership and followership creativity: The influence of workplace spirituality and political skill. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 38(2), 178-193. Web.