Restorative behavior by followers can restore damaged relationships and lost value caused by leadership incompetence.
Leadership involves a dynamic relationship between leader and follower to which both parties contribute. The study of “followership,” focuses on the vital role that followers play in the leader-follower relationship and, consequently, the role that followers play in the success of the organization. For example, poor followership, such as blindly following an incompetent or unethical leader, can be as damaging to an organization as poor leadership.
Two scholars of African leadership and followership offer a unique perspective on the role of followership when dealing with “bad” leaders a perspective based on the concept of restorative behavior.
Restorative behavior refers to the actions and reactions of followers attempting to restore relationships whose values have been damaged by the negative actions of their leaders. Effective relationships between an organizational leader and his or her followers lead to value creation for the organization; this value is lost when the relationship is undermined by the leader.
The research of Baniyelme Zoogah of Xavier University’s Williams College of Business and James Abugre of the University of Ghana Business School focused on poor leadership in terms of incompetence, defined as the inability to influence followers through effective communication and engagement. Specifically, incompetent leaders fail to involve followers in decision-making, fail to communicate with transparency and fail to ask for information or to act on information and suggestions offered by followers.
Through a series of surveys conducted with groups and dyads of supervisors and followers, Zoogah and Abugre found that:
This research was based in Africa, which at the national level has a history of restorative behaviour in response to leadership incompetence or malfeasance. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa may be the most famous example of the application of restorative behaviour, but it is not the only one.
This research reveals the effectiveness of restorative behaviour at the organisational level and implies certain steps organisations can take to encourage restorative behaviour by followers, including:
Baniyelme D. Zoogah’s profile at LinkedIn
James B. Abugre’s profile at University of Ghana Business School
Restorative followership in Africa: Antecedents, moderators, and consequences. Baniyelme D. Zoogah and James B. Abugre. Africa Journal of Management (July 2020).
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