The effectiveness of shared leadership

In a previous research topic "the strength of the leaders within the team" we highlighted already that team members who occupy a leadership role can generate a significant impact on the team, both on its effectiveness and the well-being of its members. In this section, we shed light on our research that surpasses the individual level and takes a group-level perspective to study shared leadership.

Shared leadership and releasing control sometimes feel as a leap of faith. However, sharing responsibilities appears to entail a variety of benefits. Indeed, research revealed that identifying, recognising, appointing, and developing the leaders within the team has a significant impact on the team's functioning. Research revealed that teams with high-quality leaders demonstrated a stronger cohesion in their team, had a shared purpose, and were more committed to attain this purpose. Furthermore, these teams showed more team confidence, higher team resilience, and an enhanced task-oriented climate (i.e., an environment focused on cooperation in order to perform better as a team, rather than individual profit). Furthermore, teams who engage in shared leadership practices also appear to perform better than teams who still adopt the hierarchical top-down model. In sport teams, for example, our findings demonstrated that teams in which different players occupied the roles of task, motivational, social, and external leadership ended higher on the team ladder than teams with a single team captain who outscored the others on each of these roles. 

Our research in organisational settings reveals that hierarchical teams can over time naturally evolve towards a structure of shared leadership. Important here is that we also found that the teams who were most successful in optimally using the talents in their team and in embracing shared leadership were also the teams who performed best. Choosing to guide your team throughout this transition is therefore a wise choice. Have a look here to see how our services can help you throughout this process.

Read more about our studies on this topic: 

The power of empowerment: Predictors and benefits of shared leadership in organizations

Edelmann, C., Boen, F., & Fransen, K. (2020). The power of empowerment: Predictors and benefits of shared leadership in organizations. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 582894. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.582894

    How many leaders does it take to lead a sports team? The relationship between the number of leaders and the effectiveness of professional sports teams.

    Leo, F. M., García-Calvo, T., González-Ponce, I., Pulido, J. J., & Fransen, K. (2019). How many leaders does it take to lead a sports team? The relationship between the number of leaders and the effectiveness of professional sports teams. PLoS ONE, 14(6), e0218167. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0218167

    The emergence of shared leadership in newly formed teams with an initial structure of vertical leadership: A longitudinal analysis.

    Fransen, K., Delvaux, E., Mesquita, B., & Van Puyenbroeck, S. (2018). The emergence of shared leadership in newly formed teams with an initial structure of vertical leadership: A longitudinal analysis. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 54(2), 140-170. doi:10.1177/0021886318756359

    An examination of the relationship between athlete leadership and cohesion using social network analysis.

    Loughead, T. M., Fransen, K., Van Puyenbroeck, S., Hoffmann, M. D., & Boen, F. (2016). An examination of the relationship between athlete leadership and cohesion using social network analysis. Journal of Sports Sciences, 34(21), 2063-2073. doi:10.1080/02640414.2016.1150601

    Who takes the lead? Social network analysis as pioneering tool to investigate shared leadership within sports teams.

    Fransen, K., Van Puyenbroeck, S., Loughead, T. M., Vanbeselaere, N., De Cuyper, B., Vande Broek, G., & Boen, F. (2015). Who takes the lead? Social network analysis as pioneering tool to investigate shared leadership within sports teams. Social Networks, 43, 28-38. doi:10.1016/j.socnet.2015.04.003

    The art of athlete leadership: Identifying high-quality leadership at the individual and team level through Social Network Analysis.

    Fransen, K., Van Puyenbroeck, S., Loughead, T. M., Vanbeselaere, N., De Cuyper, B., Vande Broek, G., & Boen, F. (2015). The art of athlete leadership: Identifying high-quality leadership at the individual and team level through Social Network Analysis. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 37(3), 274-290. doi:10.1123/jsep.2014-0259

    The myth of the team captain as principal leader: Extending the athlete leadership classification within sport teams.

    Fransen, K., Vanbeselaere, N., De Cuyper, B., Vande Broek, G., & Boen, F. (2014). The myth of the team captain as principal leader: Extending the athlete leadership classification within sport teams. Journal of Sports Sciences, 32(14), 1389-1397. doi:10.1080/02640414.2014.891291