In an article published in 2007, Carson, Tesluk and Marrone examined the necessary conditions for shared leadership and its impact on performance.
Firstly, the authors describe shared leadership as a team property, where leadership is distributed amongst team members instead of held by a single individual. In a shared-leadership, the team’s responsibilities as organization of the group, influences and culture would be assigned to individuals conforming the team.
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As for the reasons why shared leadership emerges and is needed, the authors point out different trends in modern team design:
In order to investigate the antecedent conditions and the performance of shared leading teams, the authors tested their hypothesis using a sample of 59 teams formed by MBA students. In terms of antecedents, the results found show the following:
a) Team’s internal environment is an important precursor for shared leadership. Team members need to be willing to offer leadership, influence the direction, motivation and support the group.
b) External team coaching plays also an important role for shared leadership. The figure of an external coach that helps develop the teams’ motivation and capabilities to lead themselves.
c) The role of the external coach is of greater importance when the team’s internal environment is not supportive.
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The results are in line with previous research on the subject, showing greater team performance in teams that have high levels of shared-leadership.
These findings not only suggest that distributing leadership amongst team members can have positive outcomes for the organization (increasing performance). It also brings light to the importance of analyzing the team environment before implementing such changes, as the support of an external coach could be beneficial.
Reference: Carson, J., Tesluk, P., & Marrone, J. (2007). Shared leadership in teams: An investigation of antecedent conditions and performance. Academy of Management Journal, 50(5), 1217–1234.