In a marching band there are different dynamics that create a combination of unity and harmony. The role of a leader can be seen in several ways, but also have an interesting relationship with the idea of followership. Are you a leader if your followers are just following the rules of authority?
The word “leader” is a part of the title of Section Leader and can create a certain level of “legitimate power” based on the title. According to Hackman and Johnson (1991), “legitimate power is one’s formal or official power” and is not the same thing as leadership (p. 342). In addition, they note that it is “possible for followers to use their legitimate power to influence leaders” (p. 342). So while their title may give them some power and authority they can also be viewed as followers of the Drum Major and Band Director. Can you be a leader and a follower at the same time? Or are you just being an “effective follower”? According to Kelley (1988), “the key to being an effective follower is the ability to think for oneself and to work without close supervision” (p. 144). They are following the orders of the Drum Major and the Band Director, but also going above and beyond the rest of their section. This leads to the concept that while the Section Leaders are “following”, they also have followers. With this theory, they may not be followers to the Section Leaders at all, but just doing what they are told to do. In this circumstance, there may be a limited option to participate as an “effective follower” because of the need for uniformity and structure. With that being the case, Section Leaders may no be longer viewed as leaders, but instead as effective followers and coordinators.
They may hold traits that could be considered leadership qualities. According to Choi (2006), leaders are empathetic with charismatic leadership (p. 24). Section Leaders are supposed to motivate their sections and may show empathy to build trust and inspire their band members. It could be argued by Choi that these traits in addition to interpersonal skills related to these traits show that Section Leaders are leaders . These traits could bring the unity necessary to have a successful section, which in turn creates a successful overall band.
According to Ross (1991), sometimes a leader may need to be a follower and a follower has the role of a leader (p. 191). A section leader seems to validate this theory as well as show the equality of importance to both the role of leader and follower. The band’s optimal performance may have many factors, but the Section Leader’s role as both follower and leader seems to be equally valuable to the band’s success.