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Organizational
Ethics
A Practical
Approach,
Second Edition
by
Craig E.
Johnson
Chapter #9
Followership Ethics
2
The Growing Power of Followers
 Ignoring followers is shortsighted.
 The old adage is true: There can be no
leaders without followers.
 Followers have a choice whether or not to
follow a particular leader, to maintain the
status quo or to work for change, to obey
commands or to object, to draw attention to
wrongdoing or to keep silent.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
3
The Ethical Challenges of Followership
 The Challenge of Obligation

All followers have obligations to their leaders
as well as to the institutions that provide them
with paychecks, retirement plans, friendships,
prestige, training, fulfilling work, and other
benefits.
Determining minimal responsibilities is easier
than deciding how far follower obligations
should extend.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
4
The Ethical Challenges of Followership
 The Challenge of Obedience

Followers must routinely obey orders and
directives, even the ones they don’t like.
Deciding when to disobey is the challenge.
There’s no doubt that following authority can
drive followers to engage in illegal and
immoral activities in which they would never
participate on their own.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
5
The Ethical Challenges of Followership
 The Challenge of Cynicism
It’s easy for followers to become cynical.
Cynicism acts like acid, reducing commitment
levels, destroying trust, cutting off
communication, and lowering organizational
performance.
Followers must walk a fine line between healthy
skepticism, which prevents them from being
exploited, and unhealthy cynicism, which
undermines their efforts and those of the group
as a whole.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
6
The Ethical Challenges of Followership
 The Challenge of Dissent

Followers frequently take issue with policies,
procedures, orders, working conditions, pay,
benefits, values, and other factors.
Followers can’t make the changes
themselves, so they must express their
disagreement to those who can.
They have to determine when to speak up and
when to keep silent.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
7
The Ethical Challenges of Followership
 The Challenge of Bad News

Telling our bosses what they don’t want to
hear can incur their wrath, bring penalties, and
seriously damage our standing in the
organization.
Researchers report that subordinates routinely
keep negative information from their superiors,
including feedback about leader behaviors that
could be undermining the group’s success.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
8
Meeting the Moral Demands of
Followership: Principles and Strategies
 To be an ethical, effective follower, you will
need to:

overcome unhealthy motivations,
act in an exemplary manner,
engage with leaders,
demonstrate courage and support,
learn how to manage and lead up, and
determine when to bring organizational
misconduct to the attention of outsiders.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
9
Overcoming Unhealthy Motivations
 All too often, followers seek leaders for the
wrong reasons.
 Toxic followership makes toxic leadership
possible.
 View leadership as responsibility to be shared
by a variety of group members.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
10
Servant (Exemplary) Followership
 Business professor, consultant, and author
Robert Kelley believes that servant
followership is more important than servant
leadership.
 Kelley uses the term exemplary to describe
ideal servant followers. The best followers
score high in two dimensions: independent,
critical thinking and active engagement.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
11
Servant (Exemplary) Followership
 Passive followers demonstrate little original
thought or commitment.
 Conformist followers are more enthusiastic than
their passive coworkers but still depend on
leaders to tell them what to do.
 Alienated followers are highly independent
thinkers who are only minimally committed to
their roles and organizations.
 Pragmatic followers fall in the middle of the
independent thinking and engagement continua.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
12
Servant (Exemplary) Followership
 Kelley outlines five behavior patterns that you
need to adopt if you hope to become an
exemplary follower:

1. Leading yourself
2. Commit and focus
3. Develop competence and credibility
4. Use your courageous conscience
5. Disagree agreeably
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
13
Engaged Followership
 Kellerman believes that some level of follower
engagement is always superior to not being
engaged at all. Based on this premise, she
places followers into these categories:

1. Isolates
2. Bystanders
3. Participants
4. Activists
5. Diehards
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
14
Courageous Followership
 Government and business consultant Ira
Chaleff identifies five types of follower
courage:

1. The courage to assume responsibility
2. The courage to serve
3. The courage to challenge
4. The courage to participate in transformation
5. The courage to leave
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
15
Authentic Followership
 Proponents of Authentic Leadership Theory
(ALT) believe that authenticity is the key to
ethical followership, just as it is for ethical
leadership.
 Followers can also take steps to become
more authentic on their own. In particular,
they need to develop psychological
ownership, foster trust, and practice
transparency.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
16
Managing Up/Leading Up
 Knowing how to work effectively with leaders
is key to ethical followership.
 As followers, we need to recognize the
pressures our superiors face, their strengths
and weaknesses, and their preferred working
styles.
 We also need to understand our own
strengths and weaknesses and preferred
working styles.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
17
Managing Up/Leading Up
 Managing up is working well with bosses to
get daily tasks done,
 Leading up is about exceeding expectations
and bringing added value.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
18
Whistle-Blowing
 Whistle-blowers are organizational members who
decide to remain in the organization but take their
concerns about abuses (for example, bid rigging,
bribery, unsafe products, substandard working
conditions) to outsiders in the hope of correcting
the problem.
 They often begin by expressing their dissent
through organizational channels but end up
making problems public when their concerns are
ignored.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
19
Whistle-Blowing
 All the favorable publicity given to famous
whistle-blowers could give the impression that
going public with concerns is easy and
rewarding.
 Even successful whistle-blowers pay a steep
price for speaking up.
 They will likely be abandoned by coworkers,
criticized or humiliated by superiors, denied
promotions, relegated to meaningless positions,
cut off from neighbors, and on and on.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
20
Whistle-Blowing
 In light of the risks, blowing the whistle on
organizational wrongdoing takes a great deal
of courage.
 Whistle-blowers must also engage in careful
ethical reasoning.
 When the whistle blows, everyone in the
organization suffers.
Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach, 2e by Craig E. Johnson © 2012 SAGE Publications Inc.
Chapter 9
Followership Ethics
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Short Answer
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Describe the behaviors of an exemplary
follower.
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2.
Name and describe the ethical challenges faced
by followers.
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,
3.
Contrast managing up with leading up.
4.
Identify the five strategies that can keep you from becoming
a toxic follower.
5.
Identify the components of psychological ownership.
6.
What are effective strategies for leading up?
7
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what three factors should whistle-blowers consider before
going public with their
concerns?
Essay
8.
what morar charenge is the toughest for you to meet as
a fb[ower? why?
9.
How can you build your courage as a follower?
10.
‘,t ‘ ‘tr.
Do you think that the power of foilowers is growing? why
or why not?
Develop a strategy for becoming a more authentic
l
foilower.
12′
Deverop a strategy for managing up or reading up in your
organization
13.
How can you avoid becoming a toxic
follower?-
;
r
What advic.e would you give someone thinking about blowing
the whistle on
organizational mi sbehavi or?
14′
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