Annotated Selective Bibliography
(In chronological order of publication
* Robert Greenleaf, Servant Leadership (1977) The book by a long-term executive of a major American corporation provided a new paradigm for the evaluation of effective leadership with a compelling alternative to leading with power primarily for the desires and benefit of the leader. He describes how skillful following produces the results for which leaders want to claim the credit. He declares that ultimately the truly best leaders accept and fill the leadership role to serve the followers, rather than to expect or demand that the followers serve the desires and welfare of the leader. Though it is not written from a Christian perspective, some Christians adapt its basic principles and define its terms to fit an altruistic Christian framework for leadership and followership.
* James MacGregor Burns, Leadership (1978) One of the first comprehensive (500 page) textbooks on leadership, he begins immediately in the prologue titled “the Crisis of Leadership” by declaring that “one of the most serious failures” in the field is the bifurcation of leadership and followership. He urges that “the roles of leader and followers be united conceptually . . .” That unification supports his assertion that leadership is influence and “many persons are leaders and followers at the same time.” The book is focused on the work of leading, but throughout he accepts the distinct nature, importance, and diverse manifestations of followership, making him one of the first to recognize the interdependence of following and leading.
* Eugene Habecker, The Other Side of Leadership (1987) He introduces a multifaceted understanding and practice of leading with Christian values in various kinds of organizations and situations. But in the process, he develops his belief that to lead well you must be a follower of Christ and also a follower of the people you lead, sincerely attending to the needs and contributions of the followers.
* Robert Kelley, In Praise of Followers (Harvard Business Review (66(6), 141-148, 1988) The initial transformative article that explained the significance and power of followership and the necessity of recognizing, studying, and developing the followership role as the powerful and equally important counterpart of leadership.
* David McKenna, Power to Follow Grace to Lead (1989) With the title and the perspective of the whole book he creatively reversed the common assumptions that leading is about exercising power over people and following is about demonstrating grace in relation to that power. “Leaders, whether secular or Christian are not loners. They must have followers . . .” He explicates the leadership paradox. “Leadership and servanthood are biblical concepts in creative tension—neither one can be exploited, neither one can be denied.”
* Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader (1989) A classic that demystifies leadership as a natural result of life-long determined personal development that constantly improves vision—the ability to see relationships that matter and change things to improve the quality of human life. He describes the key functions that characterize the leadership role and asserts that everyone is capable of learning to lead for outcomes that are good for human society.
* Robert Kelley, The Power of Followership (1992) The book developed the core concepts of his groundbreaking article (1988) into the conceptual foundation of the field of followership research and practice. He applied the concepts in a variety of organizational examples to make a compelling case for the ultimate power of the followers on whom the leaders depend. He describes the paradoxical and highly varied types of followership that make it difficult to recognize, study, evaluate, and enhance effective followership.
* Joseph Rost, Leadership for the Twenty-First Century (1993) His comprehensive scholarship traces the development of the thesis that an authentic collaborative leadership process is the most successful model of leadership, and that it requires a dynamic relationship of influences between followers and leaders who intend real changes for mutual purposes. He describes the important distinctions between authority (that is contractual or legal and involves superordinates and subordinates) and power (that is relational and involves control by rewards and punishments). Either form can be coercive or not and both depend on the followers’ willingness to participate. He describes the reality of a new paradigm of leaders and followers engaging in leadership together, which he predicts will become the dominant pattern. Rost is still highly respected for his precise and detailed language and logic about collaborative leadership.
* Ira Chaleff, The Courageous Follower: Standing up To and For Our Leaders (1995) The book is grounded in the insights that must be learned from the moral failure of the followers who allowed and empowered Hitler to lead Germany into historic atrocities. He makes the case that great and admirable leadership depends on the wisdom of courageous followership that informs and—when necessary--challenges leadership decisions and actions. Morally wise and courageous followership implements leadership visions and plans. So, when necessary, such followers must refuse to implement “morally repugnant” perspectives, visions, policies, plans, characterizations, corporate cultures, or directives of morally untrustworthy leaders. Wise and courageous followers will not approve or support a leadership role or authority for any person who is morally or otherwise unfit for leadership responsibility and influence.
* Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom (2001) This comprehensive masterpiece of biblical scholarship on the past, present and future reality and relevance of the Kingdom of God was originally published in 1959 by Zondervan and is currently published by BMH books available online. It continues to be the uniquely comprehensive and understandable exposition and application of the Kingdom of God from the Old and New Testaments. Its thorough index of subjects and sources makes it convenient to find and examine any aspect of the earthly or heavenly expressions of the Kingdom. It clarifies the wide range of implications that Jesus was assuming and referencing when he repeatedly told his followers to make the Kingdom of God their top priority in every part of life.
* Sviatoslav Seteroff, Beyond Leadership to Followership: Learning to lead from where you are (2003) Short, concise, logical, and well organized. Mostly about business settings, it assumes the priority of the leadership functions of initiating and deciding as skills that can be learned and exercised by people with a followership identity and/or position in the organization. Describes the reality that the work of leading can be done in any part of an organization by people who have no formal authority to lead, but who can provide significant effective leadership benefits. It is a quick first book to explore interdependent followership and leadership.
* Randy Alcorn, Heaven (2004) The error of thinking of heaven as some version of an ethereal realm of singing endless praise songs to worship God prevents Christians from understanding what Jesus means when he tells them to “make the Kingdom of God your highest priority” on earth right now. Alcorn brings logical consistency and practical relevance to the meaning and implications of what Scripture says about the life of Jesus-followers in the New Earth that will exist without the effects of sin and the curse. Under the rule of its King, Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God will include a new earth on which to worship and glorify God by learning and serving together in organized “satisfying and enriching work.” He courageously and creatively reminds and explains that the Bible describes life on the New Earth in the Kingdom as active and effective engagement with everyone else who is there and with all creation for all time. We will begin that new life with the knowledge and skills we developed as fallen followers on the earth under the curse. So, the closer we come to that kingdom ideal now, the better it will be for us now and in the life to come. Alcorn bravely addresses hundreds of questions about what the next life in the Kingdom will really be like, from work, travel, sleep, sex, music, and languages, to organizations and nations with equally valued followers and leaders.
* Tom Atchison, Followership: A Practical Guide to Aligning Leaders and Followers (2004) The first three words are “Leaders have followers.” The context is healthcare, but the author also has military experience, and he uses both settings to provide valuable insights into leading and following in the context of formal positional authority. His consistent distinction between a “titled executive” and a leader exemplifies his rigorous conceptual discipline. This thorough development of the interdependent nature of leading and following is set in the context of the healthcare field, but it is easily adapted to any situation involving highly qualified professionals such as education, social services, certain government agencies, science, technology, and many others. He explains the critical importance of informal personal or relational authority in formal hierarchical systems, where large professional egos often collide on matters of life and death.
* Barbara Kellerman, Bad Leadership: What it is, How it happens, and Why it matters, (2004). Extensively detailed case studies of failed leadership and the failed followership that enabled it to exercise power, authority, and influence to do harm instead of good. She describes cases ranging from bad leadership that was fully aware and deliberate to careless and negligent. She provides deep understanding of the powerful--but typically ignored--role of followership in each case of bad leadership. She shines light on the dark reality of followers who are willing and even eager to do the evil bidding of obviously evil leaders. She identifies and develops seven generic types of bad leadership and their enabling patterns of followership. She closes with suggestions about how those who care can make a positive difference.
* Jean Lipman-Blumen, The Allure of Toxic Leaders (2005) She describes the real cause of the toxic leadership that causes so much human loss, degradation, and suffering in the world. The fault lies within the followers who choose, trust, and support toxic leaders. Toxic leaders obtain power (to meet their own unhealthy needs) by playing on certain fears, insecurities, and needs felt by potential followers and blaming some external conditions or persons as the real cause of what the followers are feeling or fearing. Toxic leaders claim that only by following them can that hated “enemy” be eliminated. Toxic followers depend on a toxic external rescuer who can lead them to a better place if they will believe, support, and empower that leader. The toxic leader uses false or misleading assertions, rationalizations, and other control techniques to reassure the followers that they are healthy, important, and successful if and because they believe and follow that leader. This book provides a powerful and compelling confirmation that followers do in fact determine who leads, an explanation of the declining authority of factual truth and basic morality in leadership, and the increasing prevalence and power of toxic leadership supported by toxic followership. Electronic media make this process happen faster and with stronger emotions, typically negative avoidance rather than positive achievement.
* Michael Maccoby, The Leaders We Need: and What Makes us Follow Them, (2007) An increasingly complex web of specialized organizations and systems continues to require an increasing diversity of types of leadership, and each type of leadership needs various kinds of followership to be effective. Human society is not self-ordering, and as followers people choose and support leaders to have a major role in defining and sustaining an ordered world that supports human flourishing. After exploring various instances of leadership that need filling, he concludes with an extensive description of the President that America needs for the challenges of the increasingly disorderly world system that continues to emerge. The President must gain followers across increasingly partisan divides, followers who have a decreasing understanding of what is really needed to sustain the basic order for American or global human survival. The President must be both collaborative and decisive to “mobilize people for the common good.” Ineffective followership threatens the possibility of effective leadership.
* Barbara Kellerman, Followership (2008) This is a prescient and compelling case-based explanation from an expert on formal organizational leadership of how and why “this is the time of the follower.” In this book she brings to followership the kind of clarity that her book on Bad Leadership created for that harsh reality. Indeed, these two books inform each other. She explains the increasing recognition of the power of engaged, informed, activist followers, the kind that are increasingly the source of significant change in organizations in every sector of society, from the giant multi-national high-tech corporations to government and religion. “Just as there are good leaders and bad leaders . . . there are good followers and bad followers,” and all can be powerful. She explains that it is essential to understand and pay attention to both kinds of followers and leaders, because each one produces its own kind of results in its own way, for better or for worse. She makes it logically and pragmatically untenable to only value and develop leadership competence, as powerful followership redefines the organizational paradigm.
* Ronald Riggio, Ira Chaleff, and Jean Lipman-Blumen (Editors and contributors), The Art of Followership (2008) An exceptional and wonderfully readable compilation by outstanding authors, this book is a complete source for initiating and building an understanding of the field of followership. It provides a wealth of key principles and examples of followership as the essential and equally important counterpart of leadership for healthy and successful organizations. It is applicable for every size and kind of organization, including political, educational, governmental, for profit, nonprofit, secular, and religious.
* Bernard Bass, Bass and Stogdill’s Handbook of Leadership (1990 and 2008) This massive (1100 pages) compendium assembles key concepts from 7500 citations of research and synthesis focused in various ways on the principles and practice of organizational leadership. It includes hundreds of research-based insights on followers (or members, subordinates, etc.) and related concepts such as delegation and, in particular, the need for “more evidence on the impact of the training of leaders on followers.” (page 911)
* Rusty Ricketson, Follower First: Rethinking Leading in the Church (2009) “The Follower First philosophy defines following as willingly following the Lord Jesus Christ with all one’s heart, mind soul and strength in every circumstance regardless of organizational position.” It is solidly grounded in the appropriate concepts of leadership which he authentically integrates with the reality of the power and critical importance of actively engaged followership for a successful church. His term “follower first” means that everyone in a church is first of all a follower of Jesus, but everyone is also first a servant and follower in relation to other fellow believers. He beautifully describes a “following leader,” who does the work of leading with a follower’s heart and wisdom. That combination gives such a leader huge benefits from the wisdom of fellow followers plus their powerful and prayerful support and collaborative action. Necessary and compelling insights for pastors, church staff, church boards, volunteers, and members.
* R. Scott Rodin, The Steward Leader: Transforming People, Organizations, and Communities (2010) The kind of leader that wise and effective followers choose and support is not only competent for the presenting challenges, but also has the trustworthy integrity and anointed wisdom of a humble follower of Christ the King, a learner who leads with the transformed heart and mind of a faithful and godly steward of kingdom resources for the priorities of the Kingdom of God. This kind of person never leads for their own benefit or image, but for the benefit of everyone affected by the organization and for the glory of God. This book masterfully describes a truly God-anointed steward leader and explains how to distinguish such a leader from all the other types that are mostly based in leadership as personal ownership and usually for personal benefit. A godly steward leader demonstrates kingdom values, especially God’s love and sovereign vision for every person, starting with those in the household of faith. This book provides solid guidance for the effective following and leading that characterizes authentically transformed people and their organizations (including families and churches), and communities. It deserves its reputation as a continuing source of insight and inspiration.
* Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith, The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics (2011) Using research from a worldwide range of cases, these two skillful scholars explain the underlying reality that allows so many leaders in all kinds of organizational settings to deprive the majority of their followers for the benefit of themselves and the small minority of cronies who control and implement the corrupt systems of injustice. They use the examples to explain the process of gaining and maintaining systemic power that is visible as what is commonly called “politics” in every kind of formal organization, from governmental to corporate and religious. The basic pattern is consistent: The person at the top relies on “a small group of essentials, drawn from a small group of influential selectors, who are drawn from millions of interchangeable selectors.” The large group of selectors varies by the situation, so they may be voters, employees, customers, members, supporters of a mass movement, etc., or even prayerful donors of a religious denomination or ministry. From cruel dictators to wise and loving pastors, followers ultimately decide who leads them.
* Edward J. Murphy, The Power of Followership (2012) Combining 24 years as an Army Officer with an equally long and full career as an executive coach, the author explains what makes some people more effective than others. He provides the key principles and all the practical tools that enable highly effective followers to understand what the leader really needs, create a plan that anticipates everything that must be done, anticipate and resolve every risk and challenge, and make the desired condition happen. This is the practical handbook for highly effective followership that turns a leader’s vision into reality.
* Allen Hamlin Jr., Embracing Followership: How to Thrive in a Leader-Centric Culture, Kirkdale Press (2016) Following is a role--just as leading is a role--that you fill or play or contribute in organizations and relationships. It is something you do at times in some situations; it is not who or what you are all the time as a person in God’s image. This book can really help you understand and be effective in all the different functions of followership. And if the work of following is especially comfortable and you tend to think of yourself as a follower by nature, habit, personality, preference, or giftedness, then this is an especially valuable book for you. And if you are leading, it is also a great book for understanding, valuing, and enjoying the work of following, and appreciating those who follow with exceptional effectiveness. It provides practical guidance for anyone to become increasingly effective and joyful in their followership, but especially those who are gifted with a comfortable preference for the role, functions, and fulfilment of servant-followership in the Kingdom of God. This gift is especially important in a world that normally only values the position, power, status, titles, and rewards of leadership. The author warmly explains followership and leadership as the complementary relationship that forms the foundation of a healthy organization in which every member can contribute as an effective follower, including when they are leading.
* Tom E. Jones and Cullen D. Jones, Doers: The Vital Few Who Get Things Done (2016) Jones explains that Doers are the highly effective people who see clearly what needs to be done, avoid all distractions, eliminate every barrier, obviate every excuse, and find a way to get it done, while also respecting and serving people in the process. Doers are effective as a follower and/or as a leader, working alone or with whoever else is needed for success. Because they may challenge the status quo in the process, in unhealthy organizations they sometimes suffer for their successes. But Jones gives guidance to both the Doers and their organizations about how to adapt and rise to greatness. When he works with church groups, Jones reminds them of the clear scriptural mandate to be Doers of the Word, and not just hearers only. Provides lots of cases and specific actions to take and to avoid.
* Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Why do so many incompetent men become leaders?: And how to fix it. (Harvard Business Review Press, 2019) Incompetent leadership is everywhere, and most of these leaders are men. Chamorro-Premuzic provides compelling evidence that followers do in fact choose their leaders, and that their choices express who the followers are and what they really (often subconsciously) want. He asks and answers two powerful questions: Why is it so common and so easy for incompetent men to become leaders? And why is it so hard for competent people - especially competent women - to rise in corporate leadership hierarchies? Marshaling his decades of multi-cultural experience with solid research findings, Chamorro-Premuzic contends that men make up a majority of leaders, but they underperform when compared with female leaders. In fact, followers in most organizations see leadership potential in destructive personality traits, like overconfidence and narcissism. Thus, the traits that help someone get selected for a leadership role prevent great leadership once the person has the job. When competent women--and men who don't fit the stereotype--are unfairly or unwisely overlooked, the whole organization and those it serves all suffer the consequences. The result is a system of deeply flawed followership that rewards arrogance rather than humility; mistakes confidence for competence; and trusts loud aggression over rational expertise and wisdom. Chamorro-Premuzic describes what it really takes to lead well and how better systems and processes can help develop healthy and competent followers who put the right people in charge.
* Michael Linville and Mark Rennaker, Essentials of Followership: Rethinking the Leadership Paradigm with Purpose. (Kendall Hunt Publishing, 2022) The first comprehensive textbook on followership, it provides a solidly grounded and logically organized understanding of all the core concepts of followership as a field of theory and practice. The authors are professors at Indiana Wesleyan University and the content is presented without contradicting Christian values, but partly because it is the first such book in the field of followership, the authors overtly explain that “this book is not focused on issues of faith.” It presents the challenge of leader-centric bias, various typologies, the centrality of effectiveness, a focus on relationships, and key principles of followership.
Effective Following and Leading