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Follow the Leader: A Critical Analysis of Leadership, Followership and Wellbeing in Policing

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posted on 22.07.2020, 12:53 by Keith A. Floyd
This research investigates the extent to which police leadership would benefit from consideration of the concept of ‘followership’. The research approach is influenced by Critical Leadership Studies (CLS) principles of challenging assumptions about asymmetrical power dynamics and leader-centric leadership styles. The research question asks how an appreciation of followership theory could contribute to the development of police leadership, in turn improving follower wellbeing. Four research aims informed the research approach. 1) Examination of police leadership through a CLS lens from the perspective of followers. 2) Analysis of the leader follower relationship. 3) Provision of an evidence base informing the development of leadership models to meet current policing challenges whilst satisfying the wellbeing needs of followers. 4) Analysis of the factors which effect leadership, followership and wellbeing. A mixed–method approach was designed to answer the research question and satisfy the research aims. Research method one featured quantitative analysis of a national online questionnaire, producing data on leadership style, followership typology and the relationship between leaders and followers. Research method two involved analysis of qualitative data from the questionnaire and a series of interviews conducted with practitioners and academics; expanding on the questionnaire findings whilst further exploring the individual, organisational, external and theoretical factors which influence the leader follower relationship in contemporary policing. The unique contribution of the study is the provision of the ‘Ideal Follower Leadership’ theoretical framework which reveals the most important factors informing optimal leader follower relationships. The thesis also maps, for the first time, the wide range of factors influencing the formulation of such relationships and how these factors could be enhanced, enabling better leadership, followership and wellbeing in the future. The potential impact of this study is to contribute to the design of police leadership training by developing an appreciation of followership from theory into practice.



Wendy Fitzgibbon; Matt Hopkins; Rob Mawby

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School of Criminology

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University of Leicester

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