Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Follower Perceptions of a Departing Leader and a Lingering Vision

Student Co-author

CGU Graduate

Document Type

Book Chapter


Behavioral and Organizational Sciences (CGU)

Publication Date



Leadership Studies


The dominant leader-centric theories suggest that implementing a vision requires an existing leader who not only develops a vision, but also actively supports followers as they modify their work roles to align with it (e.g., Bass, 1985; Conger & Kanungo, 1987, 1998; Kirkpatrick, Locke, & Latham, 1996). However, fewer studies have investigated follower perceptions of vision and the processes followers use to “buy in” to the vision. Using Meindl’s (1995; Meindl, Ehrlich, & Dukerich, 1985) romance of leadership theory as a guide, this study examines follower perceptions of vision and the ramifications of a leader’s departure during the height of vision implementation. Through qualitative analysis of 19 interviews, we explore followers’ identification, internalization, and commitment to a vision before and after a leader’s exit. Findings from this study suggest that internalization of the vision may lead to perceptions of misalignment between followers’ socially constructed under- standing of the vision and the leader’s strategy for implementation. Results further indicate that post-departure followers are likely to perceive the vision as strongly intertwined with the departed leader and less directly relevant to their work.

Rights Information

© 2007 Information Age Publishing