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Followership: an undervalued concept in effective teams within the military and NHS
  1. Thomas Adams1 and
  2. A Gibson2
  1. 1 Medical Education & Critical Care, South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Middlesbrough, UK
  2. 2 Department of Ophthalmology, James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Thomas Adams, Medical Education & Critical Care, South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Middlesbrough TS4 3BS, UK; thomas.adams5{at}


Introduction Leadership is accepted as a crucial component of effective working within teams. Followership’s contribution to successful performance is increasingly recognised but understudied. This study evaluated followership levels in military doctors at different stages of their careers and made recommendations for how followership concepts can be used to develop the self and better understand the challenges of small team working.

Methods A self-report study in which Kelley’s followership questionnaire was distributed to 64 military doctors in three cohorts. 53 results were assessed using Kelley’s followership framework. Subgroup analysis was undertaken to look at differences depending on service, age, gender and career stage.

Results The study demonstrated a predominant exemplary followership style within military doctors. No statistical difference was identified at the 0.05 level in followership by career stage, age, gender or service in the sample group.

Conclusion This study gives insight into the attributes of doctors within the Defence Medical Services and laid out a methodology for further cohort evaluations of followership. It made recommendations on the areas of the field that require further research and how followership concepts may be included in further development courses and reporting for military medical personnel.

  • EDUCATION & TRAINING (see Medical Education & Training)
  • Organisational development
  • Quality in health care

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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  • Contributors AG planned and conducted the study. AG analysed the data. TA researched, wrote and submitted the manuscript. AG reviewed and commented on the final drafts of the manuscript and is responsible for the overall content of this manuscript as the guarantor.

  • Funding This study was funded by UK Ministry of Defence (MSc funded by the Ministry of Defence).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.