Shared Leadership

“Sharing is Caring”

Although the individual approach to examining leadership has cast light on understanding leadership dynamics within a team, it also contains some inherent limitations because this approach only considers the relationship between single leaders and their followers. Over the last decade, scholars have begun to take collectivistic approaches to studying leadership, however, shared leadership is still a nascent field of organizational behavior and management, and the structure and content of shared leadership are not yet fully understood. Yukl (2010) stressed that proper content of a particular leadership style should be determined if the leadership style denotes a specialized role or if there is a process of influence. To meet this requirement and to present a concrete behavioral form and clarification of shared leadership, more research is necessary to develop a robust theoretical foregrounding on shared leadership. Pearce and Sims (2000) also suggested the concrete multidimensional nature of the construct of shared leadership. To conclude, there are considerable theoretical necessities and important practical implications to further explore the content and structure of shared leadership.

Yet not much is known to answer which type of leadership can be shared or what is to be shared among team members. Most studies examining shared leadership utilized traditional hierarchical or vertical approaches to leadership. Some studies have used the existing scales of transformational, transactional, directive, and empowering leadership behaviors to measure shared leadership. This approach to measuring shared leadership based on the extant leadership styles might not be able to capture the complexity and breadth of the full domain of shared leadership. Thus, this study aims to explore theoretical themes, proximal antecedents, and multiple outcomes of shared leadership, a construct that still lacks theoretical and conceptual clarity.

Through in-depth interviews with thirty management consultants and seven non-participant observations of team meetings, the researchers investigated three aspects that are relevant to shared leadership: (a) what behaviors are demonstrated when a team has shared leadership (i.e., content), (b) what factors facilitate shared leadership (i.e., antecedents), and (c) what outcomes are caused by shared leadership. The researchers found that the theoretical themes of shared leadership meaningfully fit into five general conceptual themes: autonomously make a decisiontake a proactive initiativeengage in extra-role behaviorshorizontally make a joint decision, and collectively make a joint decision. The second aspect is about the direct individual antecedents to shared leadership, which include holding core team evaluationshowing team trust, and creating an open communication climate. The third aspect is regarding shared leadership outcomes: learning and growthinnovative outcomesperformancejob engagementsense of accomplishment, and potential inefficiency.

Based on findings, we define shared leadership as a strong, positive, and sophisticated influence and collective decision-making process that includes all members of a group as part of a shared, strong climate. The attraction behind the concept of shared leadership lies in the sharing aspect of the traits and behaviors of group phenomena, with a focus on leadership behavior that actively influences others. We hope this study will stimulate more interest and research efforts in examining shared leadership in team contexts. 

More here:
Park, J. G., & Zhu, W. (2017). Share leadership in team: A qualitative analysis of theoretical themes, antecedents, and outcomes. Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings, DOI:

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