Follower voluntariness in secondary school subject departments: the interplay of influence and motivation

Adrian Jarvis, Pradip Kumar Mishra

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Follower voluntariness is central to the operation of any work group and arises from the interplay of leadership influence and follower motivation. By following a qualitative methodology embodied in semi-structured interviews, this research considered how voluntariness operates. It focused on secondary school subject departments–these being chosen because they are the sites for direct and unmediated interactions between leaders and followers. Thus a purposive sampling strategy was adopted. The research took place in the UK and Malaysia. The data were analyzed thematically, codes generated by the interviews being used to identify emergent trends and ideas. It was found that teachers’ intrinsic motivation is a complex field consisting of ideology, professionalism and personal narratives. This was most obviously stimulated by autonomy, thus supporting the view that distributed leadership is motivational. Where leaders were found to have a major influence, it was in the accessing of followers’ personal motivational fields through the use of external reinforcers. The implications are that leadership has a marginal effect on follower motivation and, by extension, follower voluntariness, although leaders who are sensitive to the full scope of their followers’ motivational fields will be more successful than those who are not.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Leadership in Education
Early online date28 Dec 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Dec 2023

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