When ‘good’ leadership backfires: Dynamics of the leader/follower relation

Katja Einola, Mats Alvesson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


This paper contributes to the understanding of relational aspects of leadership and followership. Our in-depth empirical study of the leader/follower relation uncovers how and why assigning team members into ‘leader’ and ‘follower’ positions may sometimes be a double-edged sword and lead to unintended consequences undermining both the team’s potential and member satisfaction. We report on a multi-voiced story of one team that at first looked like a well-performing one with effective, ‘good’ leadership and satisfied team members. However, a closer investigation revealed frictional understandings, unresponsiveness and dynamics of immaturization as the followers overly relied on the elected leader. Leadership seen as ‘good’ may indeed backfire and encourage satisfied, trustful followers to relax and focus on limited roles. Our study further shows the need to conduct rich empirical studies that capture views of all parties in a relation.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalOrganization Studies
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 11.11.2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • followership
  • immaturization
  • leadership
  • process study
  • relational leadership
  • shared meanings
  • teams

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Leading for growth and well-being


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