Shared leadership in teams: a theoretical and empirical investigation

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Leadership is about what leaders do. And teams have one single leader. These widely accepted ideas have dominated the leadership literature since its early beginnings. In the 1990’s, however, researchers started to question these doctrines. In essence, leadership is influencing others towards goal attainment and team members can importantly influence each other in their pursuits of team goals. And with work environments getting more and more complex and dynamic, how would a single leader be able to provide all necessary leadership behaviors? The concept of shared leadership was born. Shared leadership refers to leadership behaviors of team members who have no formal leadership position. At different times and dependent on their unique expertise and the issue at hand, different team members can engage in leadership behaviors to give guidance and direction towards other team members. In this dissertation, I investigated whether and how different leadership behaviors are suitable for team members to lead peers. I show that shared inspirational, supportive (i.e., transformational) leadership behaviors enhance team effectiveness, whereas shared directive leadership behaviors destroy effective team functioning. I also find evidence that leadership exercised by formal leaders and shared leadership exercised by team members have different functions in teams. Where leadership of leaders is important for team performance, shared leadership is related to socio-emotional outcomes like satisfaction and team commitment. Finally, I examine how team members’ individual perceptions of their peers’ leadership behaviors affect their effectiveness. The results suggest that shared transformational leadership behaviors (rather than shared directive leadership behaviors) are most valuable for team members who perform complex tasks and less so for team members with fairly easy tasks.
Translated title of the contributionGedeeld leiderschap in teams: A theoretical and empirical investigation
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Janssen, Onne, Supervisor
  • van der Vegt, Geert, Supervisor
Award date1-Jun-2017
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-90-367-9879-2
Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-9878-5
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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