Sharing the Leadership Space: Toward a Contextual Understanding of Shared Leadership Patterns in Organizational Teams

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Abstract

Over the past two decades, interest in collective approaches to leadership has grown, with recent viewpoints arguing that shared leadership (SL) is a more powerful predictor of performance than vertical leadership. Despite a surge in SL research, however, little is known about the patterns of leadership that emerge within teams, when members perform leadership collectively. The purpose of this article is to address this gap, by exploring how team members share the leadership space in different contexts. Adopting a longitudinal qualitative perspective, this article explores the predominant patterns of SL that emerged in five organizational teams in Ireland, over the period of a year. Grounded in social exchange theory, insights are gained through multiple case studies in authentic organizational settings, using critical incident technique, participant diaries, and semi-structured interviews. Significantly, the predominant patterns of SL which emerged were not the same in all contexts, and five distinct forms are identified including withdrawal, specialization, rotation, simultaneous enactment, and centralization of leadership behaviors. The findings advance our understanding of SL by identifying and connecting different forms of SL arrangements with underlying contextual and relational conditions.
Original languageEnglish (Ireland)
Article number 10.1177/15480518241246026
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Leadership & Organizational Studies
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2024

Keywords

  • organizational teams
  • qualitative research
  • shared leadership
  • social exchange

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