This week’s research tidbits pulls together recent research offering insights into the phenomenon of shared leadership.

What do we know about shared leadership?
Many organisations are encouraging a shared leadership approach that meets the increased complexity of today’s working environment. It is therefore imperative for researchers to clearly comprehend the mechanism of shared leadership in teams.
Contributing to the burgeoning research in the field of shared leadership, this study aims to advance our understanding along the many dimensions of the shared leadership phenomenon: its antecedents, moderators, and consequences.

In this article, the authors provide a critical and comprehensive analysis of the extant literature and generate an integrated framework that presents seven hypotheses and five research questions. The authors then empirically test this framework via a systematic meta-analysis from 40 studies (team n = 3,019).

Significantly, the findings reveal that the internal team environment and team heterogeneity are positively related to the emergence of shared leadership in teams. Moreover, the authors confirm the positive relationship between shared leadership and team outcomes. The analysis also highlights how intragroup trust and task interdependence significantly moderate the shared leadership–team outcomes relations, with higher correlations observed in greater levels of intragroup trust, as well as larger levels of task interdependence.

The authors also find the moderating effect of shared leadership measurement methods in such relations. Specifically, there is a stronger relationship when shared leadership is measured with social network analysis, rather than aggregating approaches. Overall, the study brings valuable insights into the shared leadership area and provides clear directions for future research.

Wu, Qiong, Cormican, Kathryn and Chen, Guoquan. 2020. A Meta-Analysis of Shared Leadership: Antecedents, Consequences, and Moderators.

Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 27(1), 49-64.

Shared leadership in uncertainty
Research presented in this article advances existing work on shared leadership and organisational sensemaking by an empirical demonstration of the organising properties of leadership in daily instances of uncertainty.

Drawing on conversation analysis combined with ethnographic data collected during 12-month fieldwork, this article spells out the conversational mechanisms and discursive practices used by leadership actors in the process of sensemaking directed towards organisationally relevant goals.

Through a fine-grain analysis of an extended troubles-telling sequence in a particular meeting encounter, this study shows how conversation analysis–inspired research can be used to add a more nuanced understanding of a substantive area of social life, such as shared leadership which is achieved in interaction and which involves various leadership actors, regardless of their hierarchical positions and organisational roles.

Read this Open Access article online for free.

Gyuzel Gadelshina. 2020. Shared leadership: Struggles over meaning in daily instances of uncertainty.

Leadership, 16(5), 522-545

How is leadership shared in a professional hierarchy?
While there is growing recognition of leadership as a collective phenomenon, the question of how leadership is shared in the context of hierarchical asymmetry has been neglected in the collective leadership literature. This article addresses this gap by examining how sharing leadership is negotiated in team interactions that are steeped in asymmetry deriving from the professional hierarchy.

Adopting a leadership-in-interaction approach, the authors draw on fine-grained analysis of observed interactions on interprofessional teams from two health care organisations to compare the discursive strategies used by professionals in a superior hierarchical position to the ones used by those in inferior positions to share leadership. These strategies are organised into a matrix of interactional moves that resist or enact the professional hierarchy. Empirical vignettes are provided to demonstrate how sharing leadership and hierarchical leadership can be co-present and even intertwined in an interaction.

The authors show that leadership is shared (or not) as a result of how the professional hierarchy gets negotiated in interactions. More specifically, the authors conclude that the sharing of leadership in this context tends to occur prior to decision making, especially around problem formulation, if the interactional climate allows. Furthermore, it requires concrete effort: Those in superior positions of influence mindfully relax the hierarchy whereas those in inferior positions create moments of sharing leadership through resistance and struggle.

Stephanie Fox & Mariline Comeau-Vallée. 2020. The negotiation of sharing leadership in the context of professional hierarchy: Interactions on interprofessional teams.

Leadership, 16(5), 568-591.

Emergent, distributed, and orchestrated leadership depends on how you frame it
Leadership scholars are beginning to understand leadership as a distributed phenomenon, produced in interaction and emerging in social situations. Although this perspective has contributed to understanding leadership processes in more detail, it has also been noted that its proponents have largely neglected power and asymmetrical hierarchical relations.

In this paper, the author addresses these issues by drawing on Erving Goffman’s notion of frame analysis. Through detailed analysis of the interactions in a core-values session, the author shows how leadership processes that appear to be distributed and emergent from the participants’ framework appear orchestrated when understood from the manager’s framework.

The analysis reveals how power asymmetries operate in the framing of the situation, and how the experience of leadership differs among participants. Talk, text, tools, and movements in time and space all contribute to establish frameworks, and differences in access to these modalities show power asymmetries.

The paper highlights how the experience of leadership is framed and how power asymmetries constitute this framing. It thereby contributes to multimodal, constructivist theories of distributed leadership by showing how leadership is simultaneously emergent, distributed, and orchestrated.

Johan Alvehus. 2019. Emergent, distributed, and orchestrated: Understanding leadership through frame analysis.

Leadership, 15(5), 535-554.

Shared leadership development and team performance
The present study offers new theoretical insights into the dynamics of shared leadership. Integrating arguments from shared leadership and team development theory, the authors examine how shared leadership changes over the course of a project team’s life cycle and how this pattern of change relates to team performance. Guided by shared leadership theory and project team literature, the authors also explore team‐level factors, which may alter the pattern of shared leadership development.

In particular, the authors propose that in project teams shared leadership develops in a nonuniform way, approximating an inverted U‐shaped pattern, increasing early in the team’s life cycle, peaking around the midpoint, and then decreasing in the later phase. In turn, this development pattern relates positively to team performance.

The authors also extend theory by explaining how specific team characteristics influence the pattern of shared leadership development. Using a three‐study approach, the authors empirically examine the hypothesised relationships and conclude with a general discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of the findings.

Read this Open Access article online for free.

Natalia M. Lorinkova and Kathryn M. Bartol. 2020. Shared leadership development and team performance: A new look at the dynamics of shared leadership.

Personnel Psychology, 74(1), 1–31.

Shared leadership: A state‐of‐the‐art review and future research agenda
The traditional “great man” approaches to leadership emphasise qualities of individual leaders for leadership success. In contrast, a rapidly growing body of research has started to examine shared leadership, which is broadly defined as an emergent team phenomenon whereby leadership roles and influence are distributed among team members.

Despite the progress, however, the extant literature on shared leadership has been fragmented with a variety of conceptualisations and operationalisations. This has resulted in little consensus regarding a suitable overarching theoretical framework and has undermined developing knowledge in this research domain.

To redress these problems, the authors provide a comprehensive review of the growing literature of shared leadership by (a) clarifying the definition of shared leadership; (b) conceptually disentangling shared leadership from other theoretically overlapping constructs; (c) addressing measurement issues; and (d) developing an integrative framework of the antecedents, proximal and distal consequences, and boundary conditions of shared leadership. The authors end their review by highlighting several new avenues for future research.

Zhu, Jinlong, Liao, Zhenyu, Yam, Kai Chi and Johnson, Russell E. 2018. Shared leadership: A state‐of‐the‐art review and future research agenda.

Journal of Organizational Behavior, 39(7), 834-852.