Toward a Theory of Followership

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unlike most of the leadership literature, which focuses on the leaders themselves, the point of departure in this paper is that the psychology of the followers is the key to understanding the leaders' influence. Followers' attraction to leaders is analyzed from three theoretical perspectives: (a) psychodynamic, according to which the leader represents a protective parental figure; (b) psycho-cognitive, in which the leader serves as a convenient explanation for a complex reality; and (c) social-psychological, in which the leader becomes a kind of narrative that grants meaning and strengthens social identity. The article illustrates how these perspectives can help in the choice of concepts and models of leadership and in examining their validity in predicting and explaining leaders' influence in various contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
JournalReview of General Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Attribution
  • Followers
  • Groups
  • Heterogeneity of followers
  • Identity
  • Meaning
  • Narrative
  • Projection
  • Psychological distance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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