In the army, leadership is defined as a capacity of having an influence on other people by providing them with a purpose, direction, and encouragement for accomplishing a specific goal. On the contrary, followership is the ability or willingness to follow the instructions given by a leader. The military values associated with leadership and followership imply confidence and the making of difficult decisions in a timely manner, often under stressful conditions and limited resources. It is essential to understand that in order for army leaders to be in charge and make decisions, there must be followers, who are individuals that are crucial for determining the level of a leader’s success.
In the military context, servant leadership implies the duty of identifying the needs of others and working to satisfy them to a greater extent than a leader’s needs. Therefore, instead of followers working to serve a leader, the leader is there to serve the followers. It has some similarities with followership, which also entails considering the needs of another person and elevating them above one’s own. However, there is a crucial difference: followers do not always ‘serve’ their leaders per se, instead, they follow commands or suggestions.
Servant leaders’ goal is to ensure that their followers are engaged and fulfilled, while followership does not entail such a goal regarding leaders. Overall, when a leader, whether adhering to the servant style or not, understands their authority position and is respectful of their followers, the leadership becomes a participative process that balances the best aspects from each side. The opposite is also true – the lack of leaders’ appreciation for their followers results in a divide and the limited capacity to accomplish goals.