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Durham University

Research & business

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Leadership and Followership

A research group of the Business School.

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What makes a leader? And how is a leader defined by their followers and other external influences? We aim to build knowledge in the area of leadership and followership and promote this to practitioners. We also supervise PhD students in this field, including research around traditional approaches, implicit leadership theories and followership.

Evolving ideas

Traditional research into leadership has focused on the leader as a person and how potential leaders can be trained in certain effective behaviours. But this approach ignores the critical role of the follower.

Recognising that leadership doesn’t happen in an empty space, our research incorporates thinking around how it’s shaped by the characteristics of followers. This includes investigating how followers’ needs and expectations influence not only how they view and evaluate their leader, but also how far they willingly follow the leader and engage with organisational goals.

At the same time, we are interested in how followers contribute to and shape the leadership process as they respond to the leader's perceived behaviour and shape how the leader then responds.


Faculty, Durham University Business School, Mill Hill Lane, Durham DH1 3LB

Research Staff, Durham University Business School, Mill Hill Lane, Durham DH1 3LB

Research Student

Publications by staff in this group

Authored book

Journal Article

Chapter in book

  • Lord, R.G. & Dinh, J.E. (2012). Aggregation processes and levels of analysis as organizing structures for leadership theory. In The Nature of Leadership. Day, D.V. & Antonaki, J. Los Angeles, CA: Sage. 29-65.
  • Lord, R.G., Hall, R.J. & Halpin, S.M. (2011). Leadership skill development and divergence: A model for the early effects of gender and race on leadership development. In Early development and leadership: Building the next generation of leaders. Murphy, S.M. & Reichard, R.J. New York: Psychology Press/Routledge. 229-252.
  • Hall, R.J., Lord, R.G. & Foster, K.E. (2009). Considerations in applying the social relations model to the study of leadership emergence in groups: a leadership categorization perspective. In Multi-Level Issues in Organizational Behavior and Leadership. Yammarino, F.J. & Dansereau, F. Bingley, UK: Emerald. 8: 193-213.
  • Allen, P., Kaut, K. & Lord, R.G. (2008). Emotion and episodic memory. In Handbook of behavioral neuroscience: Episodic memory research. Dere, E., Easton, A., Nadel, L. & Huston, J.P. Elsevier. 18: 115-132.
  • Diefendorff, J.M. & Lord, R.G. (2008). Goal striving and self-regulation processes. In Work motivation: Past, Present, and Future. Kanfer, R., Chen, G. & Prichard, R.D. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 151-196.
  • Lord, R.G. (2008). Follower cognitive structures and affective structures and leadership processes. In Rethinking Followership. Riggio, R.E., Chaleff, I. & Lipman-Blumen, J. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Lord, R.G. (2008). Beyond transformational and transactional leadership: Can leaders still lead when they don’t know what to do? In Complexity and leadership volume I: Conceptual foundations. Uhl-Bien, M. & Marion, R. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. 155-184.