Leader & Follower: Identity& Leadership in the Royal Marines

Research Paper Title

I follow, therefore I lead: A longitudinal study of leader and follower identity and leadership in the marines.

Background

It is acknowledged that identity plays an important role in a person’s leadership development.

To date, however, there has been little consideration of the possibility – suggested by the social identity perspective – that individuals who identify as followers may be especially likely to emerge as leaders.

Methods

The researchers test this possibility in a longitudinal sample of recruit commandos in the Royal Marines.

Recruits rated their identification with leader and follower roles five times over the course of their 32-week training programme.

Recruits’ leadership and followership were evaluated by their commanders, and their leadership was assessed by their peers.

Results

Analysis indicated that while recruits who identified as leaders received higher leadership ratings from their commanders, recruits who identified – and were perceived – as followers emerged as leaders for their peers.

Conclusions

These findings suggest that follower and leader identities underpin different aspects of leadership and that these are differentially recognised by others.

Reference

Peters, K. & Haslam, S.A. (2018) I follow, therefore I lead: A longitudinal study of leader and follower identity and leadership in the marines. British Journal of Psychology. 109(4), pp.708-723. doi: 10.1111/bjop.12312. Epub 2018 May 22.

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