Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Jessica C. Kimmel


Absael Antelo


Osman Özturgut


Norman St. Clair


Leaders and followers are equally important for organizational success and development. While leadership training is widely available, very few training sessions and courses are offered on cultivating follower skills. It is essential to educate and transform individuals to become effective followers. This study identifies the most important characteristics to be exhibited by individuals in the follower role as perceived by followership and leadership experts in the United States. The theoretical framework used for this study is 12 follower attributes proposed by Antelo, Henderson, and St. Clair (2010). Seven scholars were interviewed: Ira Chaleff, Dr. Joanne Ciulla, Dr. Gene Dixon, Dr. Barbara Kellerman, Dr. Rob Koonce, Dr. Jean Lipman-Blumen, and Dr. Ron Riggio. The grounded theory constructed as a result of the study reveals that (a) scarcity of followership courses in academic curricula can be explained by the negative stereotype of the term follower prevalent in the Western society, (b) follower skills can be taught, (c) followership should be taught every time leadership is taught at academic levels ranging from high school to post graduate, and (d) 17 follower attributes are suggested for the purpose of teaching individuals. A taxonomy of leadership theories with the follower component is developed to acknowledge the presence of followers in the leadership process. For the first time, the model of Leader–Follower Unity is proposed to portray an individual’s ability to act as a follower and a leader. The importance of teaching from a Leader-Follower Unity standpoint that integrates the roles of leaders and followers is addressed. An implementation of a Leader–Follower course that teaches the identified follower attributes is suggested.