Proactive Followers with Leaders in Mind: Unraveling the Mystery Behind this Oxymoron

Open Access
Parr, Alissa Denzin
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 25, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Samuel Todd Hunter, Dissertation Advisor
  • Rick R Jacobs, Committee Member
  • Susan Mohammed, Committee Member
  • Stephanie Trea Lanza, Committee Member
  • Leadership; proactivity; followership
The aim of this study was to better understand followership behaviors and its effects on leadership by examining conditions when follower proactivity may positively or negatively influence leader well-being. Through an online questionnaire with 79 pairs of supervisors and subordinates, results indicated that general impressions and task-oriented variables have their greatest impact on leader emotional exhaustion when followers fail to be proactive while relationship-oriented variables have their greatest impact on leader emotion exhaustion when followers are proactive. Findings highlight that leader well-being is affected not only when followers are proactive, as would be implied by the initiative paradox, but also, and more critically, when followers fail to be proactive. Implications and future research directions are discussed.