Followership and leadership: Promoting unity in academia

Carl A. Osborne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


As we plan our future in the twenty-first century, many believe that we face more problems than ever before, including the rising cost of sustaining teaching, research, and service programs in a climate in which state support for higher education is declining. Some commonly held opinions blame leaders and thus propose solutions that are based on the premise that leaders who are perceived to be ineffective should be replaced by those who promise to correct the situation. Leadership is a frequently discussed term, whereas the concept of followership is generally ignored. Followership, however, has been an unidentified facet of leadership in veterinary academia. The present article examines the premise that the primary way to solve the expanding list of problems facing academia is by zealously seeking, teaching, and encouraging leadership. Organizations such as universities succeed or fail on the basis of how well followers follow in addition to how well leaders lead. The truth is that without followers there would be no leaders. Yet the train of followers is almost nonexistent in most educational settings. Striving to recruit and entertain the proper balance of followers and leaders should be one of the goals of every college of veterinary medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-352
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of veterinary medical education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011


  • follow
  • follower
  • followership
  • lead
  • leader
  • leadership


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