Followership: An Essential Component of Leadership

Leadership is a word everyone is very familiar with, and it is a concept that is ingrained in officers’ minds from the time they enter the law enforcement profession. For many officers, leadership becomes even more important as they progress through the ranks, at which point many seek leadership training, read leadership books and papers, and listen to leadership lectures and chats. It seems that current and future law enforcement leaders are bombarded and preoccupied with the concept of leadership to the point that it becomes synonymous with success. It is clearly communicated that leadership matters and that great leadership will result in more motivated employees and, hence, better productivity and outcomes for their organizations. The truth is, leadership does matter, and a poor leader—or a good leader with poor leadership skills—can destroy an organization. Leadership is important at every level of an organization, especially at the top, where more significant and complex decisions are made. This is why so many organizations, both public and private, seemingly spend a lot of time and money making sure their executives, managers, and supervisors get the latest and most comprehensive leadership skills training possible. In fact, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, in 2013, U.S. organizations boosted leadership development spending by an average of 14 percent, totaling an estimated $15.5 billion. These figures are staggering, yet they reflect the culture many organizations have adopted: leadership centered.