Friendship, followership, and leadership



How to Cite

Lilleaasen , R. (2024). Friendship, followership, and leadership. Scandinavian Journal for Leadership and Theology, 11, 99–112.


This article investigates church members' understanding of leadership and the follower–leader relationship in local congregations. The main problem is: How do followers in three Lutheran free churches in Norway describe the follower–leader relationship, and how can this relationship influence the leadership process? The material is constructed from qualitative interviews with followers; as such, it is the followers’ perspective on the leadership process.

The informants in this study associate leadership with responsibility. This is a responsibility given and monitored by the congregation. Leadership is understood as socially and relationally constructed. It is a process co-created by leaders and followers in the congregation. This relationship between leaders and followers is described with friendship terminology by the informants. The pastors are described as close or personal friends of the informants.

This understanding of the follower–leader relationship as friendship means influence is connected to equality. Moreover, pastoral friendship has implications for the accessibility and expectations of leaders, whereas money becomes more of a challenging matter in relationships understood to be friendship. Finally, findings suggest that the pastor also is seen as representing friendship with God.


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Copyright (c) 2024 Robert Lilleaasen