Is leadership enough to run a project?


The importance of followership



By Dr. Angelica Larios

Mexico City, Mexico


Leadership is a concept that has gained focus in the last decades; most people are intrigued by the features that leaders possess and want to develop leaders to accomplish goals and grow companies and institutions. Project managers have been equaled to leaders in the project management arena, and there is a significant focus on developing their soft skills and leadership to improve the results of each project and deliver benefits for business purposes.

Project management is a crucial element in every organization. It is a process that helps the team to work together and achieve the desired results. The project leader is responsible for leading and guiding the team to reach their goal. However, leadership does not always produce desired results, and there are times when followership plays a significant role in project management.

We study great leaders, executives, and project managers from the past and present and spend vast amounts of time and money looking for leaders to hire and trying to cultivate leadership in our employees. There is no discussion against this argument of trying to find the best of the best in such enthusiasm. Leaders are greatly valued. But in the search so zealously for better leaders, we tend to lose sight of the people these leaders will lead.

However, it is often forgotten that the leadership comes together with a group of followers willing to follow the leader for the common goal and benefit. In other words, leadership alone cannot exist because it is a condition of leadership to have a counterpart. Leadership is an essential aspect of project management, but it cannot be effective without followership. The followership provides support and guidance to the leader, which ultimately helps them achieve their goals.

Who is the follower?

A follower is someone who supports or follows the lead of another person. A leader leads, and a follower follows. Leaders are responsible for making decisions and providing direction for their team members to follow. A follower’s job is to support the leader through their work by following instructions, completing tasks, and reporting back on progress.

A follower is someone who supports a leader or an authority figure. Followership in project management is the process of following and supporting the leader to achieve a goal. Followership can be seen as a complement to leadership, where it provides support for the leader and helps them make decisions.

However, it results that most of the time, follower and leader, are roles everybody plays. Whether in an organization, institution, company, project, or even in our social or familiar environments, none is the leader all the time; most of us play as followers in one or multiple areas. So is a complementary leadership role, what followership is meant to be.

So, as we understand and discuss the vital importance of playing a good follower role as part of a complementary relationship with leadership, it is interesting that several authors have already studied different types of followers.

We can be aware of these types and try to be the best follower we can be according to each situation we face. But also, if we are lucky enough to be in charge of a project and be called a project manager or project leader, we have to identify which type of followers we have and think of mechanisms to make them give the best.


To read entire article, click here

How to cite this work: Larios, A. (2022). Is leadership enough to run a project? The importance of followership, PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue VIII, August.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/pmwj120-Aug2022-Larios-the-importance-of-followership.pdf

About the Author

Angelica Larios, DSL, MBA, PMP

Mexico City, Mexico


Angelica Larios, DSL, MBA, PMP, is a project manager with more than 20 years of experience in implementing software projects related to business intelligence, planning and budgeting, and financial consolidation solutions based on software applications to support the business decision process. She is the owner of ALACONTEC, an I.T. consulting company founded in Latin America. She has held several professional positions in private and public organizations, such as the Health Ministry in Mexico as an I.T. director and a business manager for several Mexican firms.

She holds a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the National University of Mexico (UNAM), in addition to her studies in project management and her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification, which have helped her to consolidate her career and have a better understanding of what businesses and projects need nowadays. She is a doctor in strategic leadership at Regent University, VA; she has been a volunteer since 2007, starting in the local Mexico chapter, being Past President, and in several positions within PMI (CMAG, VBAC, EMAG) that support the PMI Global Operations. Angelica has been elected as a member of BOD of the ILA (International Leadership Association) (2021-2024).

Angelica can be contacted at angelica.larios@gmail.com

To view other works by Angelica Larios, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/angelica-larios/