Vincent is currently working in the chemical industry as a program manager and developing innovative and efficient business services solutions. Vincent is passionate about teams, leadership,and project management. He lives in Princeton, NJ in the United States.
Organizations are facing the challenge of increasing complexity in order to succeed, and this complexity has now reached all levels of management. A team has long been perceived as the right vehicle to manage such complexity; however, for some situations a traditional team’s processes can reach its limits. A team needs significant leadership to be effective, and leader-ship coming from a sole leader might not be enough. Past research has suggested that a Shared Leadership approach can enhance the team processes and develop the team leadership capaci-ty, which is critical to team effectiveness (Avolio, Jung, Murry and Sivasubramaniam, 1996; Pearce, Manz and Sims, 2009; Pearce and Sims, 2002).
Developing and sustaining leadership as a collective endeavor has some significant im-plementation challenges. Only some of the everyday situations in a business environment would need such an advanced team process. In situations dealing with simpler objectives, Shared Leadership might not be in need, although it could still emerge and make the collaboration pro-cess even easier on all team members. Understanding and mastering the difficult aspects of an effective organization such as Shared Leadership will lead to a sustainable competitive ad-vantage (Cox, Pearce and Perry, 2003). Yet, few qualitative studies have explored the Shared Leadership emergence and maintenance processes.
In this respect, to explore Shared Leadership in a team, we propose a research-action methodology with three cases studies based on information systems projects in one subject company in the chemical industry. All three project teams have exhibited a significant level of Shared Leadership, providing a unique opportunity to advance our understanding of its emer-gence and maintenance. In this qualitative study, we found that the official leader has a pre-dominant role in the emergence and maintenance of Shared Leadership. We also found that a significant number of social mechanisms are instrumental to the emergence of Shared Leader-ship. Several social mechanisms are worthy of particular attention, considering everyone as a valuable resource (Manz, Manz, Adams and Shipper, 2010), developing trust, and sharing power among the team members.
Based on these three case studies’ findings, we discuss fourteen propositions from a Shared Leadership model adapted to new product development teams (Cox et al., 2003). In con-clusion, we suggest recommendations for team managers to facilitate Shared Leadership emer-gence and maintenance. The bottom line for manager is that managers do well when they rely on leadership from all team members.
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