‘Of the group’ and ‘for the group’: How followership is shaped by leaders' prototypicality and group identification

Niklas K. Steffens (First Author), Sebastian C. Schuh (Participant Author), Antonia Perez (Participant Author), S. Alexander Haslam (Participant Author), Rolf van Dick (Participant Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal

30 Citations (Web of Science)


Previous research has focused on the importance of leaders being seen to be of the group (i.e. to be prototypical of a group) but less on the impact of leaders’ own degree of identification with the group. Also, little is known about the combined impact of leader prototypicality and leader identification on followers’ responses. This paper reports two studies that address these lacunae. Study 1 shows experimentally that perceived leader identification and prototypicality interact to determine followers’ personal identification with leaders and their perceptions of leader charisma. Findings indicate that high identification can com- pensate for low prototypicality such that high-identified leaders are able to inspire followership when leaders are low prototyp- ical. Study 2 replicates these findings in the field by examining followers’ responses to workgroup leaders. In addition, results demonstrate that the aforementioned responses are more pronounced for highly identified followers. The present research ex- tends social identity theorizing by demonstrating that leaders’ inability to inspire followership derives as much from their failure to project a sense of ‘we’ and ‘us’ as part of their self-concept as from a failure to exemplify group-typical attributes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-190
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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Project name

Australian Research Council

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Indexed by

  • ABDC-A
  • Scopus
  • SSCI


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