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How to be a courageous follower

This article discusses the five principles of courageous followership.

In the previous steps you were introduced to the qualities of effective followers and recent approaches of followership. You learned that effective followers behave as partners of leaders and have the courage to provide alternative and constructive perspectives.

In this respect, Chaleff (2015) has concluded five principles of courageous followership, namely assuming responsibility, serving, challenging authority, pledging faithful participation, and taking moral action.

  • Assuming responsibility: Great followers have the courage to assume responsibility – create opportunities to fulfil your potential and maximize your value to the organisation.
  • Serving: Great followers have the courage to serve – Hard worker and as passionate as the leader in pursing the organisations purpose.
  • Challenging authority: Great followers have the courage to Challenge – willing to voice yourself in uncomfortable situations.
  • Pledging faithful participation: Great followers have the courage to participate in transformations – adaptable to change.
  • Taking moral action: Great followers have the courage to take moral action – taking a stand that is different from the leader.

Intelligent Disobedience

To be courageous follower, Challef (2015) considers that it is vital to develop ‘intelligent disobedience’ in order to ‘do right when what we are told to do is to wrong’.

Intelligent disobedience is the ability to counter leadership directions or instructions and suggest improvements in a constructive and respectful way while defending the integrity of the organisation’s standards and organisational goals.

Followers must possess the courage to defy leaders’ decisions and directions, if that defiance can help to ensure the organisation’s success. To do so, they need courage, good presentation skills and political awareness.

Reflect & Reply

Please reflect upon the key question below and respond using the comments section below.

Think about your experience as a follower. Have you experienced intelligence disobedience with someone who was senior to you?


Chaleff, I. (2015). Intelligent disobedience: Doing right when what you’re told to do is wrong. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler

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How to Harness Followership for Leadership Success

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