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Today’s climate demands individuals who are flexible, creative, and able to empower others to be

flexible and creative. With the nursing shortage, managed care, higher patient acuity, fewer resources,
highly diverse demographics, and outside influences, nurses need to be more effective leaders than ever
as they manage patients in various settings. But what is an effective leader without effective followers?
This is also a time when nurses need to be effective followers, knowing who to follow, when to follow,
how to follow, and how to use the follower role most powerfully. Because most of us are followers more
often than we are leaders, the art of followership is a concept that needs to be explored in any
contemporary discussion of leadership and management.]

Burns (2003) viewed leadership as “a master discipline that illuminates some of the toughest problems
of human needs and social change” (p. 3). Others suggest that leadership is about having a vision and
getting people to follow, using the art of persuasion. Then there are some who equate leadership with
management and use the words interchangeably. Bennis and Nanus (1985) described the phenomenon
of leadership as well studied, with each interpretation providing a sliver of insight but none providing a
holistic and adequate explanation. Sashkin and Sashkin (2003) took a rather simplistic, but helpful,
perspective on leadership, stating that leadership that matters is the critical factor that makes a
difference in people’s lives and organizations’ success. Many experts have described leadership as
encompassing the leader’s personality, the leader’s behavior, the talents of the followers, and the
situational context in which leadership takes place. These experts also tend to agree that leadership can
be learned. Knowing that leaders are not necessarily born but made, therefore, is an important concept
when one considers that all nurses must be looked to as leaders in and for the profession

Nursing’s focus today is on delivering quality and cost-effective patient care rather than on accomplishing
a list of nursing tasks. This focus requires that nurses fulfill both leadership and follower roles effectively.
This chapter will explore the concepts of leadership and followership and discuss how nurses can
improve their abilities to lead and follow.