School of Management Dean and Professor
Teams are increasing finding that they must contend with tasks that are highly complex and ambiguous, work in dynamic environments, use distributed (often virtually) expertise and function effectively in flat and fluid organizational structures. Our research seeks to understand how leadership in teams is evolving to be more shared, distributed and networked, and enable teams and organizations to be more effective in this new work environment.
Our earlier work identified shared purpose, social support, trust and voice as critical conditions that give rise to the emergence of shared leadership in teams. Our more recent research has explored two other important factors. One is how formal leaders can facilitate the emergence of shared leadership. Here, we have found that empowering leadership, leader humility and active coaching each play an important role in developing team members to step forward and engage in shared leadership.
A second area is what conditions help function as “facilitators” that encourage the emergence of shared leadership and strengthen the ability of shared leadership to lead to team performance. For instance, in his doctoral dissertation, Chad Chui, CLOE postdoctoral fellow, found that when teams are led by a very humble formal team leader, team members are more likely to step forward and provide shared leadership to each other under this other-oriented leadership style when team members are highly proactive.
He also found that team competence is critical: shared leadership is more strongly related to performance when teams have highly competent team members.
Currently, our research team is collaborating with CLOE organizational partners to explore how shared leadership can help facilitate organizational change and innovation. As shared leadership has been found to lead to greater levels of trust and engagement, we believe that organizational change initiatives that specifically seek to build shared leadership into change efforts by distributing leadership responsibilities across levels and roles in the organization can lead to changes that are more likely to “stick” and take hold.
Narcissism is a personality trait associated with a grandiose sense of self-importance, entitlement, a tendency to exploit or take advantage of others, and a need for power. Given narcissists’ interpersonal deficits, it’s easy to see how narcissism could hinder leadership performance. At the same time, narcissism is a complex trait that is also associated with some positive characteristics such as charisma and self-confidence. In the past, narcissism has had a controversial relationship with leadership outcomes—some scholars found a positive relationship and others found a negative relationship. In an attempt to address this contradictory evidence, my recent work combined results from existing studies and showed that narcissists tend to emerge as leaders (i.e., are perceived as being ‘leaderlike’), but that narcissism is neither wholly beneficial nor harmful for leadership effectiveness, instead narcissism is best in moderation.
Recently, I also conducted an empirical review of the gender and narcissism literature (including 355 studies and 470,846 participants) to find that men are slightly more narcissistic than women, on average. Because narcissism is associated with leadership emergence, this raises the possibility that men’s greater narcissism is one of the reasons why men are more likely than women to obtain senior leadership roles. This possibility is the focus of one of my current studies. Other in progress research continues to focus on how narcissism impacts the workplace, such as an investigation of how team-level narcissism affects team performance, as well as an examination of narcissists’ vocational preferences.
Constructive voice behavior is the act of speaking-up and sharing suggestions or recommendations for improvement with those at a higher level in the organization. As competitive pressures in the marketplace have increased and business environments have become more dynamic, there has been a corresponding recognition that it is not possible for leaders to figure everything out on their own. As a result, it has become vital in organizations for employees to speak up and share their improvement-oriented ideas.
Despite the organizational benefits of voice, leaders sometimes react negatively to employee suggestions, which decreases the occurrence of voice in the future. In prior research, we explored voice strategies that increase the likelihood of a leader reacting positively to voice behavior and found that leader reactions are much more positive when voicing employees provide potential solutions to the issues they raise.
Our current research examines the role of specific leader behaviors in encouraging employee voice, as well as leader behaviors that facilitate the successful implementation of the ideas that are shared. Findings from this line of research should provide valuable information to practicing managers regarding what they can do to leverage the valuable resource that is employee voice behavior.