Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Follower Perceptions of a Departing Leader and a Lingering Vision
Behavioral and Organizational Sciences (CGU)
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.
© 2007 Information Age Publishing
Carsten, M. R., & Bligh, M. C. (2007). Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Follower Perceptions of a Departing Leader and a Lingering Vision. In Shamir, B., Pillai, R., Bligh, M. C., & Uhl-Bien, M. (Eds.), Follower-Centered Perspectives on Leadership: A Tribute to the Memory of James R. Meindl, pp. 211-241. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.