Followers and the Co-construction of Leadership

Susanne Kean, Elaine Haycock-Stuart, Sarah Baggaley, Maggie Carson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output


This study aimed to (1) identify how leadership is perceived and experienced by community nurses, and (2) examine the interaction between recent policy and leadership development in community nursing in the United Kingdom (UK).


Leadership is a 'hot topic' yet little is known about leadership in community nursing. Traditionally, the study of leadership is viewed from a leader-centric perspective in which the discussion of followership and its impact on leadership in theory and research is noticeable absent.


A qualitative study using individual interviews (n = 31) and three focus groups (n = 13) was conducted.


'Following' is a complex process with a socially co-constructed view of leaders undertaken in a variety of ways through 'doing following''standing by' or 'resisting following'. Followers do not necessarily fit into one category but may move between categories depending on the situation. Future research into leadership requires consideration of leadership and followership as interdependent concepts.


Successful leadership is dependent on the actions of many within organizations. Followers play an active role in leadership.

Implications for nursing management

Failure to consider differences amongst followers denies the impact followers have on the success (or failure) of the leadership process and ultimately on an organization's ability to achieve goals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-516
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • focus groups
  • followership
  • individual interviews
  • leadership
  • qualitative research
  • social constructionism


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