a b s t r a c t
To date, the dominant approach to leadership research assumes that all aspects of the
leadership role within a team are embodied by a single individual. In the real world, however,
this is rarely the case. Rather, multiple individuals within the team may serve as leaders in both
formal and informal capacities, and the shifting of leadership responsibilities is often rooted in
which individual’s expertise is most relevant to the given problem. In the present effort, we add
to the rapidly growing body of work that focuses on the distribution of the leadership role
among multiple individuals. We have reviewed relevant extant literature and proposed an
integrated framework for understanding the collective leadership process. Also, in developing
this framework we have taken an information and expertise-based approach such that we
propose that collective leadership, or the distribution of the leadership role, is a function of
selectively utilizing the information or specialized expertise that individuals within the
network possess. In reviewing the framework, 55 propositions with regard to the collective
leadership process are outlined and suggestions for future research are provided.
The long-standing conceptualization of leadership, both among researchers and the general public, is that it is a leader-centric
or individual level phenomenon. When asked to define leadership, it is difficult not to think of a single individual providing
direction and inspiration to a group of followers. Among the three main ways of defining leadership, as a person, role, or process
(Yukl, 2009), it is most often studied in terms of the person (Hunter, Bedell-Avers, & Mumford, 2007; Rost, 1993). In reality,
however, leadership rarely plays out at only the individual level. Rather, leadership is a complex, dynamic process in which the
behavioral roles that often fall under the leadership umbrella may be taken up by multiple individuals (Gronn, 2002) and
exchanged across the leader and team level (Dansereau & Yammarino, 1998; Day, Gronn, & Salas, 2004). It is this exchange, and
the selective and dynamic emergence of individuals whose skills and expertise are most appropriate to a given situation, that we
propose to be the crux of collective leadership.
The definition of collective leadership that will be used as we move forward in our discussion of the proposed framework is that
it is a dynamic leadership process in which a defined leader, or set of leaders, selectively utilize skills and expertise within a
network, effectively distributing elements of the leadership role as the situation or problem at hand requires. In addition to
defining the collective leadership process, our goal in the present effort is to draw attention to the multi-level nature of this
phenomenon, and to highlight the criticality of information and communication to the emergence of collective leadership. Also,
through a series of propositions, we hope to guide future research in this area. We begin by addressing assumptions made in the
literature that we believe are limiting our understanding of collective leadership. We will then provide evidence for the benefits of
collective leadership and provide a general overview of the framework. The main focus of the article, however, will be a review of
each concept within the framework along with propositions on the concept’s role in the emergence of collective leadership. We
conclude with a review of limitations of our approach, implications for research and application, and general conclusions.
1.1. Assumptions of the extant literature
Given the shift towards a role perspective of leadership, there has been significant advancement in work on both the sharing or
distribution of the leadership role (Gronn, 2002; Hiller, Day, & Vance, 2006; Pearce & Sims, 2002) and the interaction between
leaders and team processes—recognizing that there is an important interplay between the leader and the members of a team (Day
et al., 2004; Taggar, Hackett, & Saha, 1999). The development of these theories has been an important step in understanding the
complexities of leadership; however we feel these areas do not fully account for the ways in which leadership is actually shared in
real-world settings and are limited by some critical assumptions.
First, most research on shared or distributed leadership takes the approach that it is a static condition in which the role
behaviors may be explicitly divided or entirely shared (Yukl, 2009). In reality, however, it seems that the sharing of leadership, as
an influence process rather than a defined position, is likely much more dynamic and occurs as the need arises. Rather than a
defined set of two or more leaders sharing the leadership role, it may be more like a “whack-a-mole” game in which the person
with the most relevant skills and expertise “pops up” at any given time. This selective emergence of individuals can arise through
informal channels but may be explicitly activated by a leader or set of leaders.
Additionally, much of the work on the interaction between leaders and teams appears to make the assumption that the
members that the leader is acting on are a homogenous unit in which individuals are assumed to have similar characteristics and
respond to the leader in the same way (Zaccaro, Rittman, & Marks, 2001). However, we believe this is not to be the case in the real
world. Rather, team members typically bring diverse skills and expertise to the table, which is an important precondition to the
selective emergence of different individuals into the leadership role. Put another way, if there is no difference among team
members, then there is no reason for different individuals to take on different aspects of the leadership role at different times.
While there has been advancement in both shared and distributed leadership and the interaction between leader and team
processes, we believe the proposed framework will further advance our understanding of the phenomenon by reconsidering these
1.2. Evidence for the benefit of collective leadership
Conceptualizing leadership as a role, and a role that can be selectively distributed among individuals within a team depending
on the expertise required, is a critical theoretical transition given several important trends in modern organizations. Specifically,
organizations have seen an increased use of teams (Zaccaro et al., 2001), more problems that are rapidly emerging and complex
(Hannah & Lester, 2009; Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, Jacobs, & Fleishman, 2000), and an increase in the importance of innovation
and adaptability (Friedrich, Mumford, Vessey, Beeler, & Eubanks, in press). The benefit of utilizing collective leadership with
regard to these organizational developments is evidenced in a number of studies on research and development teams and top
Findings with regard to research and development teams and leadership are particularly relevant to the organizational shifts
identified above. Not only do these studies provide empirical evidence regarding project teams, but they also focus on a domain
that deals with highly complex and dynamic problems, which by the processes innate to these problems, are related to innovation
and organizational adaptability (Drazin, Glynn, & Kazanjian, 1999; Mumford, Scott, Gaddis, & Strange, 2002). The findings of
several compelling empirical studies point to a substantial benefit of collective leadership to R&D project teams, and project teams
Two recent studies on research and development teams highlight the benefit of having multiple leaders. Hauschildt and
Kirchmann (2001) evaluated 133 new innovations within the plant construction and engineering industry and the effects that
having multiple “champions”, or leaders, taking on different elements of a leadership role, would have on the technical and
financial success of the projects. Their findings indicate that having a set of individuals, taking on different championing
responsibilities—specifically, the ‘power promoter,’ ‘technology promoter,’ and ‘process promoter’—was beneficial to team
outcomes. As more leaders were involved in the development process, gains in performance increased by a factor of 30% to 50%. In
a related study, Howell and Boies (2004) evaluated the role of product champions in the R&D process and found that project
performance is significantly influenced by the participation of multiple leaders that bring unique skills and expertise to the table.
This second study speaks directly to the importance of not only having multiple individuals in a leadership capacity, but the
importance of selectively utilizing their diverse skills and expertise.
Speaking more generally to the effectiveness of sharing leadership roles are findings in the area of top management teams.
Although these studies often focus on a division of responsibilities, rather than a leader, or core leadership team, selectively
utilizing expertise within a network, they are critical in demonstrating the benefit of leadership not residing entirely in one
individual. This is a central tenet of collective leadership. In a study of top management teams (TMTs), Carmeli and Schaubroeck
(2006) demonstrated that the behaviors of a TMT, and in particular the integration of their behavioral roles, were related to
positive organizational outcomes. Behavioral integration, as operationalized to include information exchange, collaboration, and
joint-decision making, was a significant predictor of ultimate decision quality (r=.27) which was negatively related to
organizational decline (r=−.56).
It is important to note that simply having multiple leaders, or a top management team, is not sufficient for positive team and
organizational outcomes. Rather, it is the sharing of information, collaboration, and joint-decision making among leaders that is
critical. It is anticipated that the effects observed in this study with regard to behavioral integration are related to, and provide
support for, the proposition that collective leadership will arise within a network through the effective exchange of information
and integration of behavioral roles.
Along these lines, there is evidence to support the proposition that the utilization of diverse expertise and information within
a team or network is critical to team and organizational performance. In a recent effort along these lines, Boone and Hendricks
(2009) evaluated collaborative behaviors, effective information exchange, and decision making decentralization within top
management teams in relation to the functional diversity of the team. The findings indicate that functional diversity, or varied
expertise among members of the top management team, was beneficial unto itself for firm performance. However, the benefits
of the diverse expertise were even greater with increased collaborative behaviors and accurate information exchange among
team members. Just as the Carmeli and Schaubroeck (2006) study demonstrated that simply having multiple leaders was not
sufficient and that behavioral integration was critical to the process, the findings in this study demonstrate that diverse
expertise within the network is not entirely sufficient for increasing team performance but, rather, is enhanced through
effective information exchange.
The pattern of findings demonstrated through the research on R&D teams, top management teams, and the criticality of
behavioral integration, diverse expertise and effective information exchange leads to a very important consideration in developing
a framework for conceptualizing collective leadership. Taken together, it is clear from these studies that the collective leadership
process is a very complex, multi-level, dynamic process that emerges at the crossroads of a distribution of the leadership role,
diverse skills and expertise within the network, and the effective exchange of information among team members in order to
capitalize on and coordinate their role behaviors and expertise.
The findings reviewed thus far indicate that not only is collectively sharing the leadership role beneficial to team performance
but also that the utilization of diverse expertise within a team is also important. Thus, it is anticipated that collective leadership,
defined as a leader’s, or a set of leaders’, selective utilization of expertise within a network, would be related to critical team
outcomes. Before turning to an explicit definition of collective leadership, the predicted mechanisms by which it operates, and its
relevant team and organizational outcomes, it is important to first note some critical assumptions of the proposed framework.
1.3. Assumptions of the proposed framework
The first assumption under which this framework for understanding collective leadership operates is that team members are
not all created equal. As mentioned previously, much of the research on teams, and the relationship between leadership and team
outcomes in particular, assumes that teams are relatively homogenous. In the real world, however, it is more likely the case that
members of a team, and project teams in particular, are bringing diverse areas of expertise to the table. Thus, the current
framework assumes that there is a variety of expertise and skill spread throughout a network, and that leaders and teams are most
effective when this diversity of expertise is used strategically.
The second assumption is that the collective leadership process is information-based. The distribution of information between
actors in the network and the exchange of that information is the foundation from which collective leadership emerges.
Specifically, for the diverse skills and expertise of individuals to be effectively utilized, it is necessary for critical information
regarding the problem to enter the network and be distributed among appropriate network channels, the available expertise of
individuals in the network must be known, and that these needs and available resources must be effectively communicated
between actors. As mentioned earlier, evidence of this is presented by Boone and Hendricks (2009) who demonstrated that
effective information exchange was a driving force behind the collaboration among top management team members. Thus, it is
assumed that information is the medium by which the leadership role is shared among a collective.
The third assumption is that collective leadership, as an emergent process, does not obviate leadership in the more formal
sense. The leadership role, whether occupied by one person or several, exists via accountability, and those charged with
influencing others toward a collective goal are beholden to a number of constituencies (Yukl, 2009). Thus, the distribution of the
leadership role cannot be entirely emergent with no person or collective entity held accountable for the functioning of the group. If
information is the currency of the collective leadership process, someone must be the banker, whom is responsible for the efficient
distribution of information, appropriate investment of information in different individuals with the needed expertise, and the
outcomes of that investment. More centrally, someone must create the team, or network, and clarify its objectives. Additionally, in
a recent work by Pearce and Sims (2002) it was found that both shared and vertical leadership contribute to team effectiveness
and should not be considered mutually exclusive. Thus, it is assumed that there will be an individual or set of individuals acting in a
defined leadership capacity that facilitates the conditions for the collective leadership process.
Along related lines, the fourth assumption of the information-based framework is that collective leadership is not static. As
different problems emerge, different skills and expertise will be more appropriate. Additionally, there may be shifts in the need for a
single leader, multiple individuals sharing the leadership role, or even a shift in the roles that each individual engages in. Uhl-Bien,
Marion and McKelvey (2007) allude to this general concept in their leader complexity theory in that an adaptive leadership capacity
can emerge through the interaction and exchange between individuals with different information. Furthermore, this capacity is
dynamic and can be dictated by the situation at any given time.
Given the dynamic nature of the process, and that it involves the sharing and utilization of information among a network of
individuals, it is also assumed that team-level processes play a critical role in collective leadership. Collective leadership is not
isolated to defined leaders and those individuals selected to take on elements of the leadership role. Rather, we must remember
that these individuals and the actions they take are embedded within a team and a broader network structure. To illustrate, an
individual may emerge as a leader in a given situation due to their relevant skills or information that they have, and the
information possessed by that individual (now acting as the leader) may have come as a result of their centrality within their own
network (Mehra, Dixon, Brass, & Robertson, 2006). The team dynamics and flow of information within an individual’s network
then become an important consideration to understanding the broader collective leadership process. Additionally, it is critical to
consider the social and team dynamics that come into play in determining who may be perceived as a leader, who will emerge as a
leader, or who may succeed in given situations. Finally, certain team processes may even be preconditions for collective leadership
to emerge and be successful. For instance, if there is little interaction among team members, the necessary exchange of
information will not be possible (Uhl-Bien et al., 2007). These examples indicate a broader point—collective leadership occurs
within a team and thus team-level processes must be taken into account.
The final assumption being made is that collective leadership is not a single “effect” or simple causal chain. Rather, it is a pattern
of effects and a system of interactions. Most extant leadership theories point to a set of leader traits or behaviors that lead to
specific team processes or outcomes (Hunter et al., 2007; Yukl, 2009). Given the dynamic, multi-level nature of collective
leadership, however, it is nearly impossible to isolate a causal link between leader traits or behaviors and outcomes. Instead, there
are several points at which critical moderators play an important role. For instance, research indicates that delegation and
empowerment are related to team outcomes such as satisfaction or decision quality (Cotton, Vollrath, Froggatt, Lengnick-Hall, &
Jennings, 1988; Yukl, 2008). However, the effect is likely moderated by certain contingencies or performance parameters within
the team, such as behavioral integration (Sagie, & Koslowsky, 2000). Additionally, there are multiple paths through which
collective leadership can emerge and lead to outcomes. For instance, given a diverse network of expertise, a leader can exploit
information through a direct exchange with his or her followers by tapping his or her personal network, exploiting the broader
network, or by working with his or her own personal skills and expertise. Thus, it is assumed that there are multiple mechanisms
by which collective leadership may emerge and multiple paths by which it may lead to outcomes. We now turn to a general review
of the proposed framework (see Fig. 1) followed by a detailed discussion of each construct and propositions regarding the
processes by which collective leadership occurs and may lead to critical outcomes.
1.4. Framework overview
Before turning to a detailed review of each construct within the proposed framework, and the subsequent propositions
regarding the relationships between concepts, it is helpful to first provide an overview of the framework and the pattern of
relationships between the sub-elements. Additionally, it should be noted that the proposed framework is a snapshot of how
collective leadership may arise for a single collective around a single event or problem. The framework presented in Fig. 1 consists
of four main components: 1) the key collective leadership constructs, 2) the base-line leadership and team processes, 3) outcomes,
and 4) the setting and context the process occurs within. Generally, the base-line leadership and team processes serve as the
foundational structure upon which collective leadership emerges. The elements of this section, leader skills and abilities, leader’s
structuring and maintenance of the group, mission, and team processes, are all constructs typically found in more formal models of
leadership (Day et al., 2004; Mumford et al., 2000; Stogdill, 1974) and, themselves, form a path by which leadership influences
Leader skills and abilities, or the leader’s personal skills and abilities that may affect personal and team performance, are related
to the base-line path, influencing the way in which leaders engage in the structuring and maintenance of the group. The leader’s
skills and abilities also have a direct impact on how the leader interacts with his or her network (Balkundi & Kilduff, 2005), the
exchange that takes place between the leader and the team (Boies & Howell, 2006), and the communication that takes place
between actors (Sagie, 1996), which may all influence whether and how collective leadership emerges. The leader’s structuring of
the group includes leader strategies and behaviors used to structure the group for better performance on a particular task or to
work towards a particular goal (Mumford & Hunter, 2005). This then leads to the “mission” in which the goal or objective that a
leader and group are working towards is defined (Mumford et al., 2000). As demonstrated in the diagram, the defining of the
mission is not only influenced by the leader’s actions to structure the group, but also developed through an open exchange
between the leader and the group. Defining the mission is also influenced by team processes which are the last element of the
broad base-line component. Team processes include interactional aspects of the team such as coordination, cohesion or
commitment (Day et al., 2004), that impact parameters of the team’s performance or the team’s performance capabilities,
ultimately leading to immediate and long-term outcomes.
Building upon the foundational aspects of the base-line leadership and team processes, the key collective leadership constructs
are responsible for setting the stage for collective leadership to emerge. The leader–team exchange constructs speak to the
exchange relationship between the leader and team, and the behaviors that lead to that exchange. These constructs include much
of what is typically considered to be shared, distributed, or collective leadership which are all, essentially, an exchange of the
leadership role between the leader and members of the team. This exchange is also influenced by communication, which is a
central construct in the collective leadership phenomenon.
Communication is the currency of collective leadership. Through communication, the leader exchanges information with the
team, which serves to shape team parameters and affective climate (Boone & Hendricks, 2009; Pirola-Merlo, Härtel, Mann, & Hirst,
2002; Uhl-Bien et al., 2007). Team performance parameters are elements of the problem, characteristics of the team, or leader and
team perceptions that direct or restrict the performance of the team (Ilgen, Hollenbeck, Johnson, & Jundt, 2005; Pittinsky & Simon,
2007; Taggar & Ellis, 2007). These parameters also facilitate a team’s capabilities and outcomes achieved. These parameters can be
influenced by basic team processes, the leader–team exchange, communication within the network, and the affective climate. The
affective climate, which includes the general emotional condition, norms, and regulation capacities of the team (Barsade & Gibson,
2007; Pirola-Merlo et al., 2002), influences communication, conditions within the team’s network, team performance parameters,
and directly influences team outcomes.
Leader and team network constructs comprise the final elements of the collective leadership framework. The leader network is
the pattern of interpersonal connections that the leader is a part of. The team network is the pattern of interpersonal connections
that the team members are a part of (Balkundi & Kilduff, 2005; Borgatti & Foster, 2003; Sparrowe & Liden, 2005). Naturally, the
leader’s network is tied to the team’s network and both are influenced by communication within the network. Additionally, the
team network may be influenced by the affective climate and may also have a direct impact on team performance capabilities.
They are also both directly influenced by the setting in which the process takes place and serve as an entrance point by which
information from the setting is translated into the network. The setting includes aspects of the environment that may influence the
process by which collective leadership occurs with effects entering the system as interpreted through the networks of the leader
and team members.
The third main component of the framework is made up of the outcomes of the collective leadership process including team
performance capabilities, immediate outcomes, and long-term outcomes. Team performance capabilities are an initial, first-level
set of outcomes that are qualities of a team or its members that dictate the extent to which a team is able to complete tasks (Cohen
& Bailey, 1997; Day et al., 2004; Gronn, 2002; Kickul & Neuman, 2000; Uhl-Bien et al., 2007). Essentially these capabilities are
proximal outcomes of the collective leadership process, but at the same time become antecedents to immediate and long-term
outcomes. These capabilities are influenced by general team processes, team performance parameters, the affective climate of the
team, and the team’s network. Immediate outcomes are outcomes that emerge directly from group processes that may be
temporary in nature or may ultimately transition into long-term outcomes. Long-term outcomes are persistent group and
organizational-level outcomes that emerge from team performance.
Finally, it is critical to consider the context within which the collective leadership process is taking place. Specifically, this
includes elements in the organization and the external environment that can both foster and hinder the general capacity for
collective leadership to emerge. For example, availability of resources and professionalism of members of the organization
(Mumford, Bedell-Avers, & Hunter, 2007) can directly impact whether a team needs, or is able, to selectively distribute elements of
the leadership role among multiple individuals. We turn now to a detailed review of each of the constructs within the framework
and their interrelationships, along with propositions regarding the effects and interactions between these constructs.
- Framework review and propositions
In reviewing the components of the proposed framework we will first begin with the “core” elements or the constructs that
generally constitute collective leadership. The theoretical and empirical basis for each will be discussed along with known effects
relevant to other components of the framework. It is important to note, however, that some components are relatively weak in
theoretical and empirical support and thus propositions with regard to these constructs will be broader in nature. In comparison,
propositions regarding relatively well developed areas will focus on more specific relationships. We turn now to the key collective
leadership constructs—leader–team exchange, communication, team network, leader network, team performance parameters,
and affective climate.
2.1. Key collective leadership constructs
2.1.1. Leader–team exchange
Working under the assumptions that collective leadership emerges via the distribution and selective utilization of information
and expertise, and that collective leadership does not obviate more formal leadership channels, there must, then, be an element of
exchange between the leader, or leaders, and the team. Existing research on the distribution of the leadership role (Gronn, 2002;
Yukl, 2008), exchange relationships between leaders and followers (Boies & Howell, 2006; Brower, Schoorman, & Tan, 2000), and
communication patterns and shared leadership among team members and team leaders (Carson, Tesluk, & Marrone, 2007) seem
to indicate three general components of the exchange that take place between leaders and their teams related to collective
leadership. These components are a logistical exchange of leadership roles, exchange behaviors that are relational in nature, and
elements that create conditions for exchanges between leaders and followers.
Most definitions of shared, distributed, or collective leadership tend to approach it from a logistical standpoint. In general, this
approach asserts that particular behaviors, roles, or tasks are, formally or informally, divided among team members or individuals
serving in a leadership capacity (Carson et al., 2007; Gronn, 2002; Konczak, Stelly, & Trusty, 2000). The process by which this
logistical division takes place is often talked about in terms of empowerment (Konczak et al., 2000), delegation (Leana, 1986), or
more generally in terms of sharing responsibilities (Pearce, Manz, & Sims, 2008). Collective leadership, as the selective use of
expertise, may manifest in an explicit distribution or delegation of responsibilities to those with relevant knowledge or expertise.
Each of these sets of behaviors are viable exchange avenues between leaders and teams in terms of activating collective leadership,
and each has been shown to be related to other critical team processes or outcomes.
Two studies evidence the role of empowerment or shared responsibilities in team processes and collective leadership. Konczak
et al. (2000) evaluated elements of empowering leader behaviors that include delegation of authority, accountability, self-directed
decision making (similar to more specific definitions of empowerment), information sharing, and skill development. Each of these
empowering leader behaviors were significantly related to the job satisfaction and organizational commitment of team members
(rs=.31 to .63), which are outcomes critical to both team processes and organizational outcomes. Similarly, findings by Carson et
al. (2007) indicate that the degree to which leadership is shared amongst a team, measured as the perceived dispersion of
leadership responsibility among the team network, is related to the team’s internal environment, including shared purpose, social
support, and voice (r=.33), which are also elements of team processes and outcomes proposed to be relevant to collective
In addition to the logistics of distributing the leadership role, another logistical element of leader–team exchange includes
the functions of consultation (Yukl & Fu, 1999), and implementing and revising solutions (Mumford, Friedrich, Caughron, &
Byrne, 2007). These elements are a more subtle utilization of others’ expertise than simply distributing responsibilities;
however they are still direct actions that constitute an exchange between leaders and the team. Research by Yukl and Fu (1999)
indicates that consultation is related to problem clarification and monitoring of problems which are team processes critical to
solution success (Mumford, Bedell-Avers, et al., 2007). However, of particular interest with regard to collective leadership, they
found that leaders’ consultation with their subordinates was positively related to their followers’ competence (r=.16), goal
congruence (r=.32), and job level (r=.13), which suggests that leaders selectively utilize, or consult with, individuals that
have a shared understanding of the situation, and who possesses the requisite competence and job experience to participate in
the leadership process.
Along with consulting team members, leaders often include others in the implementation and revision stages of problemsolving.
Open exchange during this process provides opportunities for the selective use of expertise which is particularly
important for the complex problems that leaders face (Mumford, Friedrich, et al., 2007). Utilizing other’s input in the
implementation, evaluation, and revision of problem solutions will likely benefit both the problem solution (Friedrich & Mumford,
2009) and long-term development of subordinates (Yukl, 2009). Given the arguments presented with regard to logistically
oriented leader–team exchanges we make the following proposition:
Proposition 1. Logistical exchange relationships between a leader and a team, in which the leadership role is dispersed and teammembers
are included in problem-solving, will enhance understanding and alignment with the team mission, and overall group performance.
In addition to exchanges that lead to a logistical distribution of the leadership role, there are also relational, or interpersonal,
leader–team exchanges that not only influence logistical exchanges but also influence and set the stage for collective leadership.
Over the years there has been extensive research conducted on the antecedents and outcomes of leader–member exchange (LMX)
relationships (Boies & Howell, 2006; Hooper & Martin, 2008; Schriesheim, Castro, & Cogliser, 1999). This research, however,
focuses predominantly on dyadic relations, and as such, there has been relatively less research on how these relational exchanges
occur within the context of the team. It is anticipated, though, that research on LMX and other relational theories of leadership
(Brower et al., 2000; Uhl-Bien, 2006) may shed some light on how leader–team relational exchanges may operate with regard to
An important series of findings emanating from the body of research on LMX is that the relationship between leaders and
followers is an ongoing, mutual “test” in which leaders and followers build trust with one another (Yukl, 2009). Specifically,
leaders give followers responsibility and as the followers incrementally prove themselves responsible and trustworthy, whether it
is accomplishing tasks or serving as a confidante, and the leader provides the follower with some sort of interpersonal reward, a
relationship between the leader and follower develops (Brower et al., 2000). As may be expected, research indicates that
individuals that develop a trusting or “high LMX” relationship with the leader are likely to be given more responsibility (Graen &
Uhl-Bien, 1995). Thus, it is anticipated that at the team level, the development of interpersonal exchange relationships that lead to
mutual trust between the leader and the team members will be related to logistical exchange relationships. Along these lines,
research by Boies and Howell (2006) indicates that the mean level of LMX within a team is positively related to team potency, or a
team’s capacity for success. Thus, as a team’s aggregate relationship with a leader increases, the more likely the team is to take on
It is important to note here, however, that although this prediction is at the aggregate team level, it is critical to remember that
the leader is likely forming different levels of interpersonal exchange relationships with followers. This consideration has
important implications for team dynamics and processes that may impact collective leadership. Specifically, studies by Boies and
Howell (2006) and Hooper and Martin (2008) both indicate that when team members perceive differences in relationships among
team members, it can result in negative team outcomes such as team conflict, and decreased satisfaction and decreased well-being.
In turn, these outcomes may impact the team’s cohesion, coordination and trust, among other team process, which are important
for the emergence of collective leadership. Given these findings, the relational exchange between a leader and the team can have
both positive implications for distributing responsibilities and whether the expertise of followers will be utilized. However, the
perception of discrepancies among team members may undermine critical team processes relevant to collective leadership.
Ultimately, characteristics of the relational leader–team exchanges will have both direct effects on team processes and outcomes,
but they will also likely moderate the relationship between logistical exchanges and outcomes.
Proposition 2. Positive relational exchanges between a leader and a team will be positively related to logistical exchanges, team
processes and outcomes of collective leadership.
Proposition 3. Perceptions of differential relational exchanges between the leader and other team members will undermine team
processes and outcomes of collective leadership.
Proposition 4. Relational exchanges will moderate the relationship between logistical leader–team exchanges and team processes and
outcomes of collective leadership.
A final element of this component of the proposed framework includes a set of actions that, if taken by the leader, may facilitate
leader–team exchanges. Specifically, the leader may encourage contact among members and with him or herself (Pittinsky &
Simon, 2007; Uhl-Bien et al., 2007), create expectations for collaboration (Taggar & Ellis, 2007), ensure that team members are
given a voice in team processes (Carson et al., 2007), and engage in sensegiving (Foldy, Goldman, & Ospina, 2008). The facilitation
of interactions is critical for the emergence of both logistical and relational exchanges, and subsequently for the collective
leadership process as a whole.
There is research that indicates increased contact among team members may lead to levels of cohesion and in-grouping that
could be detrimental to inter-group relations and problem-solving (Pittinsky & Simon, 2007). However, it is clear that in order for
exchanges, both logistical and relational, to occur, it is necessary that individuals within the group engage one another. Uhl-Bien
et al. (2007) assert that it is a critical function of leadership to facilitate connections so that information exchanges may take place,
which as discussed previously, is critical for the selective use of expertise in collective leadership efforts. Similarly, the leader can
create conditions conducive to leader–team exchange by encouraging collaboration. In a study along these lines, Taggar and Ellis
(2007) found that a leader’s expectations with regard to collaboration was positively related to team problem-solving norms
(r=.44) which ultimately influenced the problem-solving behaviors of team members.
Along related lines, Carson et al. (2007) conducted a study of shared leadership among 59 consulting teams, and found that
voice, or when team members are permitted to participate in problem-solving, was positively related to shared leadership
(r=.33) when the leader and team members possess a shared purpose and engage in social support. Although the findings with
regard to leaders encouraging contact, creating collaboration expectations and giving members a voice may seem straightforward,
they are nonetheless critical to facilitating the exchange between leaders and team members. The final action that leaders can take
to facilitate leader–team exchange is sensegiving.
Sensegiving, or “shaping how people understand themselves, their work, and others engaged in that work” (Foldy et al., 2008,
pg. 514), is a mechanism leaders can use to ensure team members possess a common understanding of the problem and the goal.
By creating a common understanding, the leader creates an environment in which individuals can communicate clearly. In related
studies on creative problem-solving efforts in teams, a common foundation from which to build (e.g., common understanding of
the problem) is necessary for the team to incorporate multiple sources of ideas (Friedrich & Mumford, 2009). Thus, prior to the
distribution of the leadership role or engaging in the selective use of expertise within the network, it would be advisable that a
leader engage in sensegiving. In this regard, sensegiving will likely moderate the relationship between logistical leader–team
exchanges and team outcomes.
Proposition 5. The leader’s encouragement of contact among team members, creating expectations for collaboration, and providing
team members a voice in problem-solving will facilitate both logistical and relational leader–team exchanges.
Proposition 6. The leader engaging in sensegiving will facilitate leader–team exchanges and will moderate the relationship between
logistical exchanges and team outcomes.
It is clear, at this point, that for collective leadership to occur there must be an exchange between team members, and
particularly between a leader and team members. In order for this exchange to occur, however, there must be communication.
Ultimately, communication makes the selective utilization of expertise possible. Communication is the movement of information
throughout a network and is a prerequisite for members understanding where critical knowledge and expertise exists in the
network, where problems are, and is critical to a collection of individuals operating under a shared understanding of the group’s
goals (Mayfield & Mayfield, 2007; Mumford & Hunter, 2005; Yates & Orlikowski, 2002). As mentioned previously, information is
the “currency” of collective leadership; thus, effective distribution of this currency is dependent on communication and becomes a
central element of collective leadership. Due to the importance placed on communication, the proposed framework identifies
communication as influencing each of the core collective leadership constructs (see Fig. 1).
As central as communication is, however, there is relatively little research on communication in the context of collective
leadership. Although there has been some work on the communication style or rhetoric of leaders and how the content of
communications can be used to influence followers (Awamleh & Gardner, 1999; Bligh & Hess, 2007; Bligh, Kohles, & Meindl,
2004), there is a void in the study of communication among individuals in a shared or collective leadership context. There are
several areas of research, however, that are relevant to this concept. For instance, there is research on consultation, feedback,
direction-giving language, and communication norms. Research in these, and other relevant areas appears to fall into three
categories; 1) communication that involves an exchange between two parties, which we refer to as bi-directional communication
(e.g., consultation, feedback exchange, information sharing), 2) communication directed from one person to another, unidirectional
communication (e.g., direction-giving language, empathetic language, meaning-making language), and 3) logistical
elements of communication (e.g., mode of communication, communication norms).
It was mentioned in the discussion of the leader–team exchange construct that actions taken by a leader to consult with
followers could be considered a logistical distribution of the leadership role. In addition to being a method for distributing leader
actions, consultation is, at its core, a form of communication and, specifically, a bi-directional communication pathway. It provides
subordinates and other team members with a voice and functions as an open exchange between two parties to access information
(Yukl & Fu, 1999). In addition to the exchange and collection of information, consulting others can also play a role in the degree of
learning and development taking place in a group, increase the likelihood that participants in the consultation will ultimately
support the action, and be more satisfied with the process and their job as a whole (Yukl, 2009). Each of these is relevant to the
team processes, performance parameters or affective climate constructs of collective leadership.
Where consultation is bi-directional communication that occurs at the beginning or during problem-solving, an equally
important form of bi-directional communication often occurs after problem-solving. Exchanging feedback has generally been
recognized as a valuable, although complicated, endeavor whose outcomes depend on multiple variables (Ilies & Judge, 2005;
Kluger & DeNisi, 1996; Latham & Locke, 1991). Research on feedback has focused on many topics, but the last couple decades, in
which research on 360 degree feedback has dominated, provides empirical information on the communication of feedback across
all levels rather than just top–down (Smither, London, & Reilly, 2005). With regard to collective leadership, the important findings
emerging from feedback research appear to be that effective communication of feedback, across levels, is related to team learning
and development (Garavan, Morley, & Flynn, 1997). In addition, feedback has been shown to lead to team members better
understanding group goals (London & Smither, 1995). Through the use of feedback, leaders can encourage the development of
knowledge and skills within the network and may prove valuable for utilizing varying expertise in collective leadership. Clear group
goals are also critical when there are multiple individuals leading others to achieve a goal who must have a shared understanding of
While consultation and feedback can be considered to be a complex form of bi-directional communication, direct
information sharing is a simple and explicit communication exchange. Where consultation implies seeking out opinion or
expertise, and feedback implies providing objective or subject judgments, information sharing is a simple exchange or
distribution of information that individuals within the network possess (Gruenfeld, Mannix,Williams, & Neale, 1996). Research
on information sharing among group members indicates that it is positively related to group performance andmay even reduce
task and interpersonal conflict (Moye & Langfred, 2004). It is also important to note that by participating in any form of bidirectional
communication, members of the group are likely to perceive group processes as fair (Yukl, 2009) which would
contribute to a positive affective climate.
Proposition 7. The use of bi-directional communication will be positively related to leader–team exchange and the selective use of
information and expertise.
Proposition 8. The use of bi-directional communication will be positively related to the development of the knowledge and skills of
Proposition 9. The use of bi-directional communication will be positively related to the team’s affective climate vis-à-vis justice perceptions.
In addition to bi-directional communication, the content and use of communications directed from one party to another,
particularly from a leader to followers, can have a significant influence on group processes related to collective leadership.
Specifically, three forms of this top–down form of communication have been shown to be related to follower motivation (Mayfield
& Mayfield, 2007). The processes are direction-giving language, meaning-making language, and empathetic language.
Mayfield and Mayfield (2007) describe these three forms of language in terms of a leader’s motivating language. Central to
collective leadership, these types of language can be used differentially to achieve different group outcomes. Direction-giving
language is used to clarify expectations and goals,meaning-making language is used to communicate values and cultural aspects
of the group or organization, and empathetic language is used to demonstrate compassion and emotion (Mayfield & Mayfield,
2007). Providing direction, initiating structure, and clarifying roles and objectives (direction-giving language) is related to
critical teamperformance parameters such as a shared understanding of the goal and role clarity (House & Mitchell, 1974),which
is likely to facilitate collaboration among teammembers, particularly those sharing a leadership role. Communicating values and
norms (meaning-making language) is critical for a wide variety of team processes and collective leadership as a whole. For
example, communicating that the organization values sharing the leadership role would lay the foundation for collective
leadership to emerge. Organizational and group norms communicated through meaning-making language are expected to
moderate collective leadership processes relevant to the norms being communicated. For instance, the communication of
affective norms will likely moderate the influence that affective climate has on team performance parameters. Finally,
appropriate use of empathetic language is expected to be positively related to the affective climate of the teamby supporting the
expression of emotion.
Proposition 10. Uni-directional, direction-giving language will be positively related to setting team performance parameters.
Proposition 11. Uni-directional, meaning-making language will moderate the collective leadership processes to which the norms are
Proposition 12. Uni-directional, empathetic language will be positively related to team affective climate.
Both bi-directional and uni-directional communication and the forms of communication that fall under them are related to
critical elements of collective leadership. These relationships may be moderated by functional aspects of the team’s
communication patterns. Specifically, the mode of communication and the team’s norms for communication may impact the
influence that these types of communication have on other collective leadership constructs such as leader–team exchange, team
performance parameters, or affective climate.
With the onset of the information age, there has been a rapid proliferation of research on different modes of communication
(e.g., verbal versus electronic communication) (Al-Hawamdeh & Hart, 2002). There is very little research, however, on how
different modes of communication may impact how the content of a message influences processes such as collective leadership. It
is anticipated that characteristics of the team’s network structure, characteristics of the task or problem, and the degree of task
interdependence of team members will all be related to the mode of communication used. For instance, a network that has a wide
range of autonomous members would likely not utilize word-of-mouth modes of communication like a densely interconnected
In addition to mode of communication, communication norms may also moderate the relationship between types of
communication and different collective leadership constructs. For instance, in an organization in which it is the norm that
feedback is always provided in a top–down manner, there may be no relationship between feedback exchange and collective
leadership. Another example may be an organization that has strong norms with regard to discouraging the communication of
emotions. In this case there will likely be a weak relationship or no relationship between empathetic language and the team’s
Proposition 13. The mode of communication used will be related to characteristics of the team network, the task or problem the team is
facing, and the interdependence within the team.
Proposition 14. Communication norms will moderate the relationship between communication and relevant collective leadership
constructs, for instance, leader–team exchange, affective climate, and leader and team networks.
2.1.3. Leader network
If information and expertise are the currency of collective leadership and communication is the method of transfer, then
networks are the channels through which it is accessed and exchanged. Over the last 10 years there has been a significant increase
in the study of social networks (Kilduff & Tsai, 2006; Sparrowe, Liden, Wayne, & Kraimer, 2001) particularly with regard to their
implications for leadership processes such as emergence, informal leadership, and leader performance (Balkundi & Harrison, 2006;
Carroll & Teo, 1996; Mehra et al., 2006). More recently and more central to collective leadership, research has begun to focus on
leaders’ skill in interpreting networks, as well as how leaders interact with and use their networks (Burt & Ronchi, 1990;
Krackhardt, 1990; Sparrowe & Liden, 2005). To understand how the leadership role may be distributed through the selective use of
expertise within a network, it is critical to understand how leaders interpret and interact with their networks and how structural
characteristics of the leader’s network influence these processes.
There are critical leader capacities related to the role that a leader’s network plays in collective leadership. Clearly, a leader’s
ability to recognize and accurately interpret relevant characteristics of a social network, often referred to as network cognition
(Kilduff & Tsai, 2006), will moderate whether structural or content characteristics of the network influence the leader’s approach
to communication with team members. Additionally, other leader capacities such as wisdom or experience may moderate the
degree to which leaders use their network rather than relying on their own available information. It is important to recognize that
not all leaders will interpret and use a network in the same way.
In evaluating the literature on social networks, it appears there are two general categories of network variables that are
relevant to collective leadership. These categories are structural characteristics of the network (e.g., connections between actors,
network size, leader centrality), and the content and functional characteristics of the network (e.g., dispersion of information,
leader’s exposure to the network, boundary spanning) (Balkundi & Harrison, 2006). Variables within these two categories are
proposed to influence both the team network and communication constructs. In addition, both the leader’s and the team’s
networks are proposed to be the entry point for information from the outside system.
In their work on general social networks and the social network of leaders, Balkundi and Kilduff (2005) and Kilduff and Tsai
(2006) outline several structural characteristics of networks, and of leader networks in particular. Specifically, the connections
among actors, centrality of the leader among the connections, density of the connections between actors in the leader’s network,
embeddedness of the relationships between actors, the range of connections within the network (individuals that are not
interconnected to one another), network stability, and network size are proposed by the authors to all be related to team outcomes
such as performance, and leader emergence and influence. Additionally, other research indicates that the diversity of actors within
a network (Müller, Nordt, Lauber, & Rössler, 2007) may influence group processes ultimately related to the emergence of collective
Although this area of study is relatively new, several early studies indicate that these structural elements are related to
variables relevant to collective leadership. For instance, in a meta-analysis on the relationship between leader and team networks
and team viability and performance, Balkundi and Harrison (2006) found that a leader’s centrality was related to the team’s task
performance. Although the mechanism behind that relationship is unclear from the study, it is likely that being a “hub” of
information allows an individual to both efficiently influence others and gives them access to multiple sources of information.
These two outcomes of centrality are likely important to both collective leadership processes and performance overall.
Additionally, Sparrowe and Liden (2005) found that leaders may serve as sponsors of group members by sharing influence and
responsibility with them. However, it appears these processes are moderated by the leader’s centrality in the network.
In addition to influencing how the leader accesses and interprets information, the structural characteristics of the network will
also likely impact the logistical elements of communication. For instance, if a leader is not central within his or her network, he or
she may have to take more indirect routes to communicating messages to the group. Along related lines, if the leader is central to
the network, he or she may be able to rely more on informal modes of communication (e.g., talking with team members) rather
than formal methods (e.g., memos or announcements). Another example of structural effects on communication is if the leader’s
network is very hierarchical, there may be less bi-directional communication than in a less hierarchical network, which may then
reduce the capacity for collective leadership.
Proposition 15. Structural characteristics of the leader’s network will be related to the leader’s perception, interpretation, and use of
Proposition 16. Structural characteristics of the leader’s network will be related to the type and content of communication the leader
uses with members.
Proposition 17. Structural characteristics of the leader’s network will be related to the mode of communication used with members.
Structural characteristics of the leader’s network have a more indirect effect on collective leadership, by way of influencing
communication and the leader’s ability and strategy for using information in the network. The content of the network and patterns
of information flow in the network are likely more directly related to the emergence of collective leadership since it is more
directly related to when and how information and expertise can be extracted from members within the network (Kilduff & Tsai,
2006). Content and access variables include boundary spanning (the degree to which the leader’s connections bridge the team to
outside networks), dispersion of information in the network, how much the leader is exposed to his or her network, availability of
informal information, and reciprocity (agreement between two actors that there is a connection) (Balkundi & Kilduff, 2005). More
generally, the leader’s network is a valuable resource for gathering information (Mumford et al., 2000). These characteristics and
functions become critical in collective leadership by dictating how information is communicated among team members and how
leaders ultimately exploit that information to bestow responsibilities upon those with the requisite expertise.
In a study along these lines, Mehra et al. (2006) evaluated leaders’ centrality in both their internal team network, and also their
external network of other group leaders. Connections to external networks can also be considered boundary spanning because the
leader is bringing information from the external network into the internal network. The findings indicated that leader centrality
among their leader peer network (the external network) was positively related to their team’s performance. The authors propose
that this is because these leaders are better connected to bring in information and resources to their team. It is evident from this
study that a leader’s personal network, and their interactions with it, has implications for the team.
Proposition 18. Content and interactional characteristics of a leader’s network will be related to the leader’s communication with
members in exchanging information.
2.1.4. Team network
In addition to the leader’s personal network, the network among team members also plays a critical role in collective leadership.
Again, the network is the structure through which information is exchanged allowing expertise to be selectively utilized. The team’s
network is conceptually separate from the leader’s network because the team’s network has a different relationship to the other
elements of collective leadership. Although both influence, and are influenced by, communication, the team’s network is more
directly related to affective climate and team performance capabilities, an outcome of collective leadership. Thus, as might be
expected, much of the network characteristics, both structure and content, already reviewed are similar between the two networks.
However, the mechanisms by which they influence the collective leadership process are different.
In a recent study on networks, Balkundi and Harrison (2006) evaluated the relationship between leaders’ and members’
network structures and member commitment, team viability, and team performance. The study provided several important
insights. First, dense team networks were related to increased commitment and better performance which are a performance
parameter and team outcome, respectively, in the proposed collective leadership process. Additionally, the team’s centrality
among other teams was positively related to increased performance and it appears that group networks that facilitate information
flow were positively related to future performance. Both of these are performance capabilities in the framework of collective
leadership. Thus, it appears that the mechanism by which some of these capabilities emerge may be related to the structure of the
There are also elements of the team structure that relate more directly to the selective use of expertise. As Sparrowe and Liden
(2005) found in a recent study on LMX and social networks, members who have a respected status with the leader and who have a
leader that is central within an advice network are more likely to have influence within the network. Thus, not only is there an
interaction between the connections that team members have and the leader’s personal network, but the networks may influence
how and to whom the leader distributes the leadership role.
Proposition 19. Structural characteristics of the team’s network will be related to performance capabilities and team outcomes.
Proposition 20. Structural characteristics of the team’s network will influence and be influenced by structural characteristics of the
Proposition 21. Structural characteristics of the team’s network will be related to the access and use of information from the network
Unlike the structural characteristics of team networks, the content characteristics of team networks related to collective
leadership is different from the set related to leader networks. Specifically, the content and interactional characteristics of team
networks that are relevant to collective leadership are information gathering, knowledge of other members’ networks, familiarity
and exposure to the network. Information gathering within the team network is relevant to collective leadership because the
gathering and distribution of information and knowledge throughout the network would likely increase the awareness of where
expertise lies in the network. This process would then facilitate the selective use of expertise in distributing the leadership role. In
a study along these lines, Rulke and Galaskiewicz (2000) found that network connections through which information is shared
influence how knowledge is used in the group. Specifically, they found that decentralized networks (with a broad range of
connections) facilitated the use of diverse knowledge distributed within the network and knowledge distribution was related to
Knowledge of others’ networks, exposure to the network, and familiarity with other actors in the network are proposed to have
similar and related effects on collective leadership. Specifically, as members are increasingly exposed to their networks, become
more familiar with one another, and are aware of each other’s networks they are better able to interpret and utilize their networks
and the information in it. The increased efficiency in interpreting and interacting with the network would likely impact
communication patterns and ultimately team performance parameters, and subsequently build capacity within the team for
activating collective leadership. Additionally, exposure, familiarity and knowledge of one another’s networks will likely facilitate
interpersonal understanding and support within the network. Understanding and support within the network could then
influence emotion regulation and regulation of stress, and ultimately improve the affective climate of the group.
Proposition 22. Information gathering within a team’s network will be related to the leader’s communication with members in
Proposition 23. Knowledge of other members’ networks, familiarity and exposure to the network will facilitate use of the network and
communication of information.
Proposition 24. Knowledge of other members’ networks, familiarity and exposure to the networkwill be related to the team’s affective climate.
2.1.5. Team affective climate
Over the last couple of decades, research on emotions and affect in organizations has become a popular area of study. The
majority of research supports the idea that an individual’s affect can have a significant influence on many aspects of their
performance, such as creativity, decision making, and pro-social behaviors, among others (Barsade & Gibson, 2007). Although
significant work has been done on affect, it is less clear how it operates at the group level (Kelly & Barsade, 2001) and, even more
ambiguous, is how affect might influence collective leadership processes. Some progress has been made in evaluating the role of
affective climate in organizations (Pirola-Merlo et al., 2002). Climate is a set of shared attitudes or expectations that a team has
with regard to a specific context (e.g., climate for creativity, climate for safety) (Schneider, 1990) and thus, affective climate refers
to a team’s shared affective experience or tone (Pirola-Merlo et al.). Affective climate has been included in the proposed
framework of collective leadership because research indicates that there is a relationship between affect and relevant collective
leadership concepts such as relational exchanges, feedback, contribution, conflict, and support networks (Ashkanasy, Härtel, &
Zerbe, 2000; Sonnentag & Frese, 2003). Specifically, three aspects of a group’s affective climate are anticipated to play a role in
collective leadership: characteristics of the group’s affect, stress conditions, and justice perceptions.
Group affect is, to some extent, a convergence or aggregation of the affect of team members. While individuals bring their own
trait affect and state affect to the team, affect can be transmitted through groups via mood contagion (Barsade, 2002). Therefore,
not only is a group’s affect a sum of individual’s affect but a collective mood that can be spread among each other. In this regard,
network characteristics and interaction would influence this process of affect transmission. Outcomes of group affect are also likely
to influence the collective leadership process. For instance, it has been found that positive group affect is related to increases in
cooperation and decreases in conflict, which are two important team performance parameters (Barsade, 2002). On the other hand,
teams that were affectively diverse and had a low aggregate positive affect have been shown to be more likely to experience
emotional conflict and less likely to have cooperation among team members, which are also relevant team performance
parameters. (Barsade, Ward, Turner, & Sonnenfeld, 2000).
It is important to note that affective climate can be influenced directly by leadership (Pirola-Merlo et al., 2002). Specifically,
leaders can create organizational norms, especially for emotional expression (Barsade & Gibson, 2007), that create conditions to
foster a positive affective climate. Also, along those lines, leaders may engage in meaning-making language, a form of
communication discussed previously, that can frame affective events and help team members regulate their affective response,
another team performance parameter (Pirola-Merlo et al.).
Proposition 25. The team’s collective affect will influence team performance parameters.
Like individual level affect, a team’s general affect is susceptible to emotional influences including stress. There are several
sources of work related stress that have been shown to impact individual and group affect, such as physical stressors, work stress,
interpersonal stress, traumatic events, stressful change processes, and emotional labor (Sonnentag & Frese, 2003). Reactions to
stress can be physical, affective, or behavioral and each of these may impact the overall affective climate of a team. Three sources of
stress are expected to be relevant to the affective climate of a team: job stress, interpersonal stress, and work-life conflict. Job or
work stress is a general term that encompasses a number of factors that may cause an individual or team to feel stress as a result of
work related activities or events. Examples of job stress include time pressure or work overload. A team also may experience work
related stress and the individual affective response of individuals to the stressor will likely impact the overall affective climate. The
team may respond in a similar fashion to sources of interpersonal stress, such as conflict among team members (Sonnentag &
The effect of work-life balance on team processes has garnered increasing attention in the literature. A recent meta-analysis by
Judge and Colquitt (2004) indicated that there is a relationship between justice perceptions and stress, with work-life conflict
mediating this relationship. In a related study, Beauregard and Henry (2009) evaluated the work-life stress experienced by
individuals and found a relationship to low satisfaction and commitment, decreased performance, and increased turnover and
absenteeism. While these studies looked at the impact of work-life conflict on individual level performance outcomes, it is likely
these outcomes would manifest and ultimately impact team-level performance processes and outcomes. Each of these outcomes
would have important implications for other members of the individual’s team and would ultimately place stress on the team and
impact the team’s affective climate. On the positive side, however, research indicates that social support, which may emerge
within a team’s network, can mitigate the effects of stressors (Cohen & Syme, 1985). It is likely that as exposure and familiarity
increase within the network, the level of social support provided by the network increases.
Proposition 26. Stress experienced by individuals, and the team as a whole, will influence the team’s affective climate.
Proposition 27. Characteristics of a team’s network will be related to social support among team members and the team’s affective
The final element of a team’s affective climate anticipated to be related to collective leadership is justice perceptions, or the
overall impression of fairness, among team members. Specifically, it is proposed that team members’ perceptions of distributive,
procedural, informational, and interactional justice will be related to the overall affective climate of the team. Distributive justice
refers to whether individuals perceive that the distribution of outcomes or rewards was fair. Perceptions of procedural justice refer
to impressions that the processes used to determine outcomes or distributions of rewards were fair. Perceptions of interactional
justice refer to the impression that oneself and others are treated fairly in a more relational sense. Informational justice refers to
the perceptions of fair distribution of information and resources among individuals within the team (Cohen-Charash & Spector,
2001; Cropanzano & Greenberg, 1997; Mitchell & Daniels, 2003).
Perceptions of injustice can lead to negative outcomes. Specifically, research indicates that perceptions of injustice at the
individual level of analysis resulted in negative motivational reactions (Mitchell & Daniels, 2003), stress, and negative affective
reactions (Judge & Colquitt, 2004). Given that judgments of fairness are often made in relation to others, a team context is one that
would likely spark comparison and judgments of the fairness applied to oneself compared to other team members. Perceptions of
injustice may lead to resentment and interactional stress among team members, which would negatively impact the team’s
affective climate. In a study along these lines, it was found that perceptions of interactional justice were related to whether team
members engaged in organizational citizenship behaviors. If individuals felt that team members were being treated fairly, they
were more likely to help one another, which is a condition that would be beneficial to collective leadership (Burton, Sablynski, &
Sekiguchi, 2008). Specifically, collective leadership relies on the effective coordination of multiple individuals and for the
individuals with the requisite expertise to step up into a role that may be beyond their defined set of tasks which is similar to
organizational citizenship behaviors.
It is important to note that the relationship between justice perceptions and affect is not entirely clear, nor is it uni-directional.
Barsky & Kaplan (2007) found individuals characterized by higher negative affectivity reported more incidents of injustice
compared to individuals characterized by lower negative affectivity. Additionally, as individuals are exposed to their network of
team members and become familiar with one another, they may be less likely to perceive injustice because they will likely have a
more complete set of information with regard to their teammates and their contributions. This will reduce feelings of injustice and
positively relate to the team’s affective climate.
Proposition 28. Perceptions of injustice will negatively affect a team’s affective climate.
Proposition 29. Perceptions of justice will relate positively to team performance parameters.
2.1.6. Team performance parameters
The final key collective leadership component is team performance parameters. Team performance parameters include
characteristics of the team, problem conditions, and perceptions that the leader or team have that might direct or restrict the
emergence of collective leadership and team performance (Ilgen et al., 2005; Pittinsky & Simon, 2007; Taggar & Ellis, 2007). Team
performance parameters are particularly critical in the collective leadership process given that they are proposed to be behavioral
indicators of a capacity for collective leadership, antecedents to team processes, and a gateway to team performance capabilities
and outcomes. The variables included within team performance parameters cover a wide range but fall into three general groups:
capacity for problem-solving, team orientation, and team structuring and maintenance.
One approach to understanding organizational processes is to dichotomize processes as either work task behaviors or
interpersonal behaviors. Of the many conditions that may direct or restrict the emergence of collective leadership and group
performance, it appears that these two general categories hold (Kickul & Neuman, 2000). Specifically, it is likely that there will be
characteristics or conditions within the team that will shape the team’s problem-solving (e.g., information sharing, task
interdependence, concurrence seeking) which will impact performance, as well as interpersonal or team oriented mechanisms
(e.g., in-grouping, openness to feedback, conflict management) that will influence performance. Finally, there are likely also
structural and team maintenance characteristics (e.g., team stability, autonomy, enabling interactions) that will influence
collective leadership and performance. Taken together, we can use this dichotomy to better understand the behaviors, processes,
and outcomes associated with collective leadership.
A team’s ability to solve problems, in particular complex and ill-defined problems, can be influenced by a number of individual,
team and organizational factors (Mumford & Hunter, 2005). The capacity for a team to effectively work through a problem is
dependent upon the level of individual expertise brought to the team as well as the team processes that enable effective utilization
of that expertise (Grosse, 2007). Those parameters include conditions such as collaborative problem-solving (Chatman & Flynn,
2001), establishing a shared goal (Pittinsky & Simon, 2007), sharing information (Tse, Dasborough, & Ashkanasy, 2008), and
achieving an appropriate level of concurrence seeking (Eaton, 2001) and task interdependence (Uhl-Bien et al., 2007). By creating
conditions in which the team can capitalize on the different types of expertise within the team, collective leadership can emerge
and performance will be enhanced.
In a study along these lines, Taggar and Ellis (2007) evaluated the problem-solving norms of teams, their effect on individual
problem-solving behaviors, and the role of emergent leadership in the process. The results indicated that collaborative problem
solving norms were related to individual members’ conflict resolution, collaborative problem-solving, communication, goal
setting/performance, and planning and task coordination. Additionally, they found that individuals emerging as leaders could
establish these norms, which was particularly beneficial when team member expectations for collaborative problem-solving were
low. Two critical points can be taken away from these findings. First, the research identified the role of norms on an individual’s
performance as it related to overall team performance. Second, the research illustrated a case in which collective leadership may
emerge among team members to establish these norms and expectations. It is anticipated that similar patterns will emerge for the
other parameters mentioned previously, in which conditions are set to facilitate problem-solving.
Proposition 30. The team’s capacity to solve problems will positively influence team performance.
Proposition 31. Collective leadership will facilitate a team’s capacity to solve problems.
One of the critical considerations that must be taken into account when moving from individualized work to teamwork is the
plethora of interpersonal factors that are then introduced into the process. The interpersonal dynamics within a team have been
shown to be strong predictors of team success or failure (Barsade, 2002; De Dreu & Weingart, 2003). More relevant to the
proposed framework, several interpersonal factors are believed to influence the emergence of collective leadership within a team.
As we mentioned in the discussion of affective climate, individuals must be committed to and engaged in a team for collective
leadership to emerge, and poor interpersonal team conditions are a potential limiting factor in this regard. For instance, Hooper
and Martin (2008) demonstrated that perceptions that others were being treated differently by a leader led to conflict between
team members, which ultimately led to decreased job satisfaction and well-being. These outcomes would likely reduce the
contributions to collective leadership.
It should be noted here, however, that it is not necessarily desirable that a team be entirely agreeable and cohesive. Although
there is a level of cohesion and shared situational awareness required so that team members can work together effectively
(Mumford & Hunter, 2005), too much cohesion and concurrence seeking can lead to groupthink or, more generally, reduce the
utilization of different expertise within the network (Eaton, 2001). Thus, it is anticipated that desirable interpersonal parameters
would include a supportive and cohesive team that is also open to dissent, feedback, and utilizes multiple sources of expertise. In
an illustration of this point, Eaton (2001) discusses the actions of management teams at British Airways and Marks & Spencer (an
English department store chain). A content analysis of documents from both companies revealed that their financial downfalls
could be traced to an overreliance on established methods, strong in-grouping, and an aversion to any difference of opinions. These
conditions would also limit the emergence of collective leadership. Interestingly, we believe collective leadership would prevent
or overcome the potential for limiting the scope of a team’s problem-solving.
In addition to the more affectively oriented interpersonal parameters, there are simply interactional conditions that can shape
how team processes occur and how collective leadership may emerge. For instance, for collective leadership to occur and have an
influence on performance, there must be conditions for team members to interact and share information (Uhl-Bien et al., 2007).
Along similar lines, team members should engage in some level of self-management, or decentralized control, so that different,
non-formal, leaders are able to take on elements of the leadership role (Shipper & Manz, 1992). If the control is decentralized or
members are engaging in self-management, it will facilitate the distribution of the leadership role.
Proposition 32. A positive orientation to the team will facilitate the emergence of collective leadership and overall team performance.
Proposition 33. Cohesion and in-grouping will have a curvilinear relationship with performance in that some is required for teams to
be effective but too much will cause performance decrements.
Proposition 34. Leader–team exchange will facilitate interpersonal parameters related to team performance.
The final set of performance parameters are the more logistical elements of the team that may play a part in shaping how team
processes occur. These structural and teammaintenance factors can play a critical role in teamperformance andmay be the easiest to
adjust. These functional elements include such things as the stability or tenure of the team, skill composition, the team’s autonomy,
role integration, and preparation for team activities (Mumford & Hunter, 2005; Spreitzer, Cohen, & Ledford, 1999; Uhl-Bien et al.,
2007). In a related study, Spreitzer et al. (1999) evaluated self-managing work teams in real-world organizations and found that
logistical team characteristics, such as team coordination, expertise, and stability, were related to the effectiveness of the selfmanaging
work teams. Three important conclusions can be drawn from this study. The first is that a team should have both the
necessary composition of knowledge and skills required for performance. Second, the team should be stable enough to have
established clear team norms. Third, these conditions are related to team self-management—a process closely tied to collective
leadership.Althoughmore straightforward and stable than problem-solving and interpersonal parameters, structural parametersmay
be quite significant, as it seems collective leadershipmay be severely hindered should the teambe poorly constructed and norms not
Proposition 35. The structural characteristics of a team will influence both the capacity for collective leadership and team performance.
2.2. Base-line leadership and team processes
Having reviewed the key collective leadership constructs, we now turn to base-line leadership and team processes that, unto
themselves, typically constitute how leaders influence teams and ultimately team outcomes. For instance, most general models of
team leadership propose that a leader’s skills and abilities are related to how they structure or manage the tasks and interpersonal
functioning of the group, which then impacts team processes and ultimately team performance (Day et al., 2004; Zaccaro et al.,
2001). These processes serve as the support structure and mediating influences on collective leadership. It is unlikely that
collective leadership will occur without being influenced by the leaders’ skills and abilities, the leaders’ structuring and
maintenance of the group, the group’s mission, or team processes.
2.2.1. Leader skills and abilities
Whether the individual or group of individuals serving in a leadership capacity are doing so in a formal or informal role, it is
clear that there are certain skills and abilities associated with effective leadership. For instance, intelligence, creativity, emotion
regulation, and wisdom have all been shown to be related to leadership performance in various situations (Fiedler, 1986; Kickul &
Neuman, 2000; Mumford et al., 2000; Pirola-Merlo et al., 2002; Sternberg, 2003). In reviewing the sets of skills often associated
with effective leadership, several in particular were identified as being particularly relevant to collective leadership processes. Yukl
(2009) divides leader skills and abilities into three broad categories: conceptual, interpersonal, and technical. We will use the
same categorizations for the skills and abilities relevant to collective leadership.
The first category, conceptual skills and abilities, includes capacities such as intelligence, creativity, foresight, intuition, and
wisdom. Conceptual skills are particularly critical when it comes to problem-solving in which leaders play an important role
(Mumford et al., 2000). Leaders are often the ones who identify problems, engage in sensemaking, define problems for the team,
and direct others in working toward a solution (Mumford, Friedrich et al., 2007). Intelligence, or general cognitive ability, is
consistently related to effective problem-solving and decision making (Sternberg, 2003). Additionally, capacities such as foresight,
intuition, and wisdom often contribute to leaders’ effective identification of problems, planning and prioritization of tasks, and
anticipating potential pitfalls and outcomes (McKenna, Rooney, & Boal, 2009; Sternberg, 2003). Finally, creative problem-solving
skills such as idea generation and idea evaluation help leaders clarify a team’s objectives without restricting the problem-solving
of team members (Friedrich et al., in press).
Proposition 36. The conceptual skills and abilities of leaders are positively related to effective identification of problems, structuring of
the group work, and clarification of objectives.
The second category, interpersonal skills, includes capacities such as network awareness, network accuracy, perspective taking,
political skill, emotion regulation, and communication (Balkundi & Kilduff, 2005; Drazin, Kazanjian, & Glynn, 2008; Mumford et al.,
2000; Pirola-Merlo et al., 2002). The foundation of collective leadership is the selective distribution of leadership responsibilities
among team members based on the expertise of members within the network. In order for responsibilities to be efficiently
distributed, the individuals serving in a leadership role must be aware of the network and the expertise within it and understand
its structure and connections to most efficiently distribute responsibilities. Along these lines, Balkundi and Kilduff (2005) propose
in their social network approach to understanding leadership, that a leader’s ability to accurately assess the structure of the
networks and the nature and content of the connections such as friendships or information exchange patterns, will be related to
their overall effectiveness.
Similarly, political skills imply an accurate understanding of the social and task implications of one’s behaviors and the effective
use of social capital to accomplish goals (Treadway et al., 2004). Thus, political skills are likely related to leader–team exchange
such that the leader is able to anticipate the social and political implications of distributing leadership responsibilities to certain
individuals. Additionally, an understanding of the political scheme would likely lead to exchanging leadership responsibilities for
the purpose of developing other leaders and facilitating succession planning.
Emotion management and communication skills are interpersonal skills that facilitate interactions with others. Communication
skills are essential for interacting with team members in order to access information within the network and also for
providing clear directives and expectations. A leader that is a skilled communicator can motivate others by communicating the
team mission (Mayfield & Mayfield, 2007). Emotion management is also relevant in this regard, such that a leader that is able to
accurately perceive, interpret, and display emotions can engage the emotions of others and be particularly powerful motivators.
Finally, a leader that is capable of regulating his or her emotions and the emotions of others will communicate emotional
stability to team members, both verbally and non-verbally, which can help establish a stable affective climate (Pirola-Merlo et
Proposition 37. Interpersonal skills will be positively related to the effective distribution of leadership responsibilities, will facilitate
information exchange, motivation of followers, and maintaining a positive affective climate.
The final category is technical skills and abilities which generally includes procedural knowledge related to the work the
person does or to technical knowledge of how to be a leader. Technical skill is typically associated with experience or expertise
in a particular domain. Expertise developed through familiarity with the domain also provides past cases from which the leader
can base their problem-solving (Ericsson & Charness, 1994). This library of cases helps the leader accurately identify the
problem, structure and define it for others, and also understand which responsibilities can be distributed via leader–team
exchange (Mumford, Friedrich, et al., 2007). Additionally, general leadership experience would provide the leader with an
understanding of when and how leadership responsibilities can and should be distributed among other members of the team as
well as how to motivate others to accomplish the objectives. Also, time and experience with the team members would provide
valuable information with regard to recognizing and effectively accessing information and expertise from others within the
Proposition 38. Technical skills in the work domain will be positively related to identification of problems, structuring work tasks, and
appropriately distributing the leadership roles.
Proposition 39. Experience as a leader will be positively related to accessing information within the team network, structuring work
tasks, motivating team members, and distributing the leadership role through a leader–team exchange.
2.2.2. Leader structuring and maintenance of the group
The second base-line leadership process includes structuring team members’ work tasks as well as organizing, maintaining,
and distributing team resources. Initiating structure has long been held as a behavior central to leadership (Fleishman, 1953;
Stogdill, Goode, & Day, 1962), and is particularly important for the leadership of teams in which it is necessary to get multiple
people organized and working toward a shared goal (Mumford et al., 2002). One method leaders employ to structure tasks is
through the use of sensemaking, or interpreting a problem or situation and expressing this interpretation to the team members
(Mumford et al., 2002). Sensemaking relies on leaders filtering and interpreting information which, as mentioned before, is
dependent on leaders being skilled in accurately identifying and processing relevant information. A leader’s sensemaking behavior
is directly related to the mission or objectives that they ultimately give the team. The accuracy and clarity of the interpretation that
a leader has of a problem will relate to the clarity of the mission that followers receive. The leader may also engage in sensemaking
that could ultimately lead to team norms. For instance, the pattern of interpretations that a leader has of different situations may
signal to team members that he or she expects members to act collectively rather than individually in solving problems. Thus,
sensemaking may also be directly related to team processes.
Proposition 40. Leader sensemaking is related to the way in which team missions are presented to team members and influences team
In addition to sensemaking, leaders engage in more straightforward logistical team maintenance behaviors of structuring tasks
the team must accomplish. In doing so, they must engage in strategic planning, as well as personnel and resource management. As
leaders are faced with managing tasks and resources and the specific contingencies and restrictions associated with that, it will
influence how they define the problem, prioritize goals, elaborate their strategy and clarify objectives to the team (Mumford,
Friedrich, et al., 2007). This would ultimately influence the mission that they present to followers. Additionally, the way in which
leaders structure tasks and manage resources can also directly impact team processes. Although a leader’s structuring and
maintenance of the group is not directly related to core collective leadership constructs, it still plays a critical role in the collective
leadership process. For instance, there may be situations in which the way the leader structures the work and conveys the mission
does not lend itself to team processes that encourage collective leadership. Additionally, a leader may engage in sensemaking that
does not communicate to others that they should step forward and assume leadership responsibilities.
Proposition 41. Management and maintenance of the group is related to how the mission is defined to followers and how team
The third element of the collective leadership framework that is central to the standard leadership process is the definition of a
mission. Leaders are expected to provide direction and tomotivate followers. The definition of leadership implies an influence of others
toward a collective goal, which can be communicated through a mission. Missions are used by leaders to define the ultimate goal,
establishhowresourcesmay be selected and distributed, define the scope of acceptable solutions to the given problem, andalso provide
followers a framework for howthey can personally contribute (Mumford, Bedell-Avers et al., 2007). Missions have also been shown to
be related to project success (Pinto & Prescott, 1988). Leaders communicate missions to clarify objectives and to motivate followers.
Following sensemaking and task structuring behaviors, it is necessary for leaders to further define the problem for followers,
prioritize goals, elaborate on strategies they may use, and clarify the ultimate objectives (Mumford et al., 2008). Engaging a group
of individuals in a mission is also a bonding event and has critical implications for team processes. An overarching team goal
provides teams a central concept to collectively commit to, and thus unites them as a team. The clarification of goal priorities will
also likely impact whether elements of the leadership role can be distributed via leader–team exchange. For instance, if the
objectives established in the mission are not easily directed by multiple individuals, it will limit the degree to which the role is
exchanged. It is important to note that the definition of objectives and prioritization of goals in constructing a mission does not rest
solely in the leader’s hands. Through leader–team exchange, other team members may be given a voice or may engage in
sensegiving that shapes how the mission develops (Foldy et al., 2008).
Proposition 42. Use of a mission to clarify objectives will be related to logistical team processes, and whether the leadership role will be
distributed via leader–team exchange.
A mission can also be used in a more inspirational or motivational sense to align team members and facilitate interpersonal
team processes. For instance, a leader may reiterate team ideals that encourage team members to act collectively, engage in back-
up behaviors, or cooperate with one another. Along these lines, Berson and Avolio (2004) demonstrated in a recent study that
transformational leaders, or leaders that engaged in visioning behaviors, had followers that had a better idea of the collective goals
of the organization. Creating a shared purpose and using inspirational and idealized influence tactics would likely also impact
others’ willingness to engage in sharing the leadership role or other leader–team exchanges. Not only would members feel more
comfortable taking on leadership responsibilities with a clear idea of what the overall goal is, but having a unifying goal may make
them more committed to one another and willing to step into a leadership role if the need arose.
Proposition 43. Use of a mission to motivate and inspire followers toward a collective goal will be related to interpersonal team
processes and willingness of team members to engage in leader–team exchange.
2.2.4. Team processes
At the core of collective leadership is the presence of a team, and more importantly, team members that are willing and
able to step into leadership roles given the needs of the situation. There are certain team processes that are expected to
facilitate this emergence of different leaders, both logistical and interpersonal processes. As illustrated in the framework, team
processes may influence and be influenced by the leader’s structuring and maintenance of the group, the team’s mission, team
performance parameters, and team performance capabilities. For the purpose of developing a framework of collective
leadership, we will make general statements about two types of broad team processes and include specific processes we
anticipate to be more directly related to collective leadership. The relationship between team processes and the first outcome
of the collective leadership process, team performance capabilities, is particularly important. Team performance parameters,
or the conditions within a team that may direct or restrict how collective leadership emerges, moderate this relationship. As
will be discussed in the next section, team performance capabilities fall into two categories: problem-solving capacities and
team management. Both logistical and interpersonal team processes are anticipated to influence the development of both sets
Logistical team processes are likely to influence the team’s capability to solve problems and to effectively manage the team
(Day et al., 2004). Examples of logistical team processes include performance monitoring between team members, back-up
behaviors that team members take to assist one another in getting the task accomplished, or adapting to contingencies and
restrictions. For instance, performance monitoring, or monitoring of your fellow teammates’ performance, is a critical team
process in which team members’ roles are interdependent, as they would be in a situation in which the leadership role is shared
(Day et al., 2004; Carson et al., 2007). Additionally, effective team logistics will likely impact elements of team management
such as role clarity, coordination, and distributed leadership capacity. Role clarity with regard to one’s individual role is
important unto itself, but it has other important implications when team members are aware of the roles that other members
are capable of undertaking. Specifically, it would be critical to the emergence of informal leadership which relies on understanding
who to go to for leadership in certain situations. Additionally, it would also lead to intuitive working relationships,
another critical team capability, where the direction of work flow would not have to be articulated but would rather be
intuitively understood. This is an important capability for a team to be readily adaptable, particularly for the selective
emergence of expertise in different situations.
Proposition 44. Effective logistical team processes will be positively related to the development of problem-solving capacities and team
As with logistical team processes, interpersonal team processes have implications for both problem-solving capacities and
team management, but influence different elements of each. Interpersonal processes such as cooperation, culture of teamwork,
and collective focus are likely to be related to the way in which the team addresses problem-solving. In a related study, Hardin,
Fuller and Davison (2007) evaluated virtual teams and found that individuals were less confident in their team’s ability to solve
problems than if they were in traditional face-to-face teams. The team’s collective efficacy, an important problem-solving
capability, was significantly influenced by the degree of interpersonal interaction.
Interpersonal team processes play an important role in team management capabilities. Having cohesion, commitment, and
trust among team members is important to maintaining working relationships between team members, effectively resolving
conflicts that might arise within the group, and with getting members of the team to buy-in to the solutions they are developing.
Research conducted by Taggar and Haines (2006) provides evidence along these lines. They found the degree to which team
members perceived their tasks as interdependent was influenced by their belief in the value of teamwork, self-efficacy for
teamwork and collectivist feelings. Thus, the way in which individuals manage their work interdependence is likely related to
their perceptions of interpersonal conditions.
Proposition 45. Interpersonal team processes will be positively related to the development of problem-solving capacities and team
There are a variety of potential outcomes of the collective leadership process and many are similar to general team
performance outcomes (Day et al., 2004). However, the outcomes identified are anticipated to be ones in which collective
leadership could have real implications as an antecedent or moderator. The first set of outcomes, team performance capabilities,
are specific to the team and include lasting conditions or capacities built within the team that will be beneficial to future team
performance but can be considered outcomes unto themselves. Immediate outcomes are individual-, group-, and organizationallevel
conditions that may directly emerge as a result of collective leadership or related processes. Long-term outcomes are less
direct in their connection to collective leadership and/or take more time to emerge. These outcomes are also chained in that each
subsequent set of outcomes is likely to influence the next. It is reasonable to assume that capabilities developed within the team as
a result of collective leadership will be the gateway by which collective leadership influences immediate and long-term outcomes.
Additionally, although not all immediate outcomes are tied to the long-term outcomes, several long-term outcomes are influenced
by those that are more directly connected to collective leadership.
2.3.1. Team performance capabilities
Although there is little empirical research on collective leadership as it is defined in this framework, deductions with
regard to outcomes can be drawn from extant work on the benefits of shared and distributed leadership, collaboration among
team members of different expertise, top management teams, and research and development teams (Carmeli & Schaubroeck,
2006; Hauschildt & Kirchmann, 2001; Hiller et al., 2006; Pearce & Sims, 2002). Additionally, assuming as we have in previous
sections that collective leadership processes influence team performance parameters and team processes, findings regarding
the relationship between team performance capabilities and team processes and performance parameters are also relevant.
In reviewing these two bodies of literature, it appears that the performance capabilities of a team that emerge as a result of
the collective leadership process fall into two general categories: problem-solving capacities and outcomes related to
effective team management. By strategically distributing leadership responsibilities based on information and expertise
accessed from the team network, the teams are better able to both solve problems and to respond to team management
Problem-solving capacities, such as adaptive performance, spontaneous collaboration, decision acceptance among members,
shared situational awareness, and collective efficacy, are team outcomes directly related to a team’s ability to address specific
problems (Gronn, 2002; Klein, 2000; Pittinsky & Simon, 2007; Taggar & Ellis, 2007; Uhl-Bien et al., 2007). Team management
capabilities, on the other hand, focus more on the development and maintenance of persistent team conditions that make the team
successful. Several studies on the distribution of the leadership role indicate that it is positively related to a team’s effectiveness in
accomplishing goals, or, more directly, their problem-solving capacity. For instance, Pearce and Sims (2002) demonstrated in their
study of change management teams that sharing of the leadership role was a significant predictor of team effectiveness as
measured by supervisors, customers and the team themselves. Similarly, Carmeli and Schaubroeck’s (2006) work on top
management teams, showed having multiple individuals serving in a leadership capacity, who have a high degree of behavioral
integration, produce better problem solutions. Other problem-solving capacities that may also be related to collective leadership,
through the concerted effort to share information and access expertise in the network, may include the development of team
expertise, creativity, synthesis of ideas, and knowledge integration.
Proposition 46. Collective leadership will be positively related to a team’s problem-solving capacity, which will, in turn, be related to
immediate and long-term performance outcomes.
A second set of team performance capabilities that may develop through collective leadership revolve around the effective
management of the team, such as network sharing, intuitive working relations, coordination, distributed leadership capacity, and
role clarity (Aryee & Chen, 2006; Gronn, 2002; Howell & Boies, 2004). Effective management of teams contributes to sustained
performance and attainment of long-term outcomes. Specifically, awareness of networks and the use of information that lies
within them for regularly distributing leadership responsibilities throughout the team can eventually create a capacity within the
team to rapidly and efficiently snap into the appropriate “collective.” For instance, in a recent qualitative study on emergency room
teams, Klein, Ziegert, Knight and Xiao (2006) found that an understanding of one another’s skills and abilities to assume roles led
to the leader’s ability to rapidly delegate responsibilities to other individuals and other’s acceptance of those individuals’ authority.
Additionally, Hiller et al. (2006) identified a series of team-level behaviors that may be included in collective leadership and found
that support and consideration, as well as development and mentoring behaviors within the team, which could be considered
team management capacities, were related to supervisor ratings of overall team performance. Other team management
capabilities that may emerge from collective leadership processes and increase a team’s capabilities for future performance may
include conflict management, developing leadership potential within team members, and brokering or championing projects with
those external to the group.
Proposition 47. Collective leadership will be positively related to a team’s management processes that will enable future performance.
2.3.2. Immediate outcomes
Emerging from the performance capabilities are outcomes that have implications beyond the team’s problem-solving and
management capabilities. These outcomes aremore external to group processes andmore readily observable. However, they are
still more immediate than organizational outcomes or team outcomes and may take longer to develop. As with most leadership
outcomes at the organizational level there is typically a delay between the leader’s action and observable outcomes, which
makes evaluating leadership effectiveness particularly difficult (Yukl, 2008). Immediate outcomes are fairly concrete and take
two forms: 1) performance outcomes such as solving the problem at hand, creativity of the problem solution, efficiency or
safety, or 2) follower outcomes such as follower satisfaction, trust and loyalty for the team (Hiller et al., 2006; Yukl, 2008;
Zaccaro et al., 2001).
The literature on research and development teams contains the bulk of the research investigating the relationship between
teams with multiple leaders and immediate performance outcomes. For instance, Hauschildt and Kirchmann (2001) evaluated
innovation teams and found that teams that had a collective of three leaders distributing different elements of the “champion” role
were more innovative than other teams. In addition to findings with regard to multiple leaders, there is evidence that performance
capabilities proposed to emerge from collective leadership are related to important immediate outcomes. A particularly important
set of team capabilities that should emerge from the collective leadership process is an awareness of other’s networks and the
increased sharing of information within the network and the resulting behavioral integration that occurs. As demonstrated by
Carmeli and Schaubroeck (2006), behavioral integration, which includes constructs such as collaboration and exchanges between
members, is related to increased quality of strategic decisions.
Proposition 48. Collective leadership will be positively related to immediate team performance outcomes.
In addition to performance outcomes, there are several follower and interpersonal outcomes thatmay be observed as immediate
benefits of collective leadership. Research on empowerment, shared leadership and delegation provide some evidence in this regard
(Carson et al., 2007; Konczak et al., 2000). For instance, in a recent study, Carson et al. (2007) found that shared leadership was
correlated with follower perceptions of having a voice in decisions, feelings of shared purpose, and perceived social support.
Additionally, being aware of one another’s network and collaborating in a collective manner may also have important
immediate interpersonal outcomes. In a recent study, Balkundi and Harrison (2006) found that the density and expressive nature
of team member’s network connections to one another was related to team viability which included interpersonal outcomes such
as team climate, commitment, or cohesion. Thus, it seems reasonable that fostering interpersonal interactions and awareness of
networks may foster these positive interpersonal outcomes in teams.
Proposition 49. Collective leadership will be positively related to immediate team interpersonal outcomes.
2.3.3. Long-term outcomes
The final set of outcomes of the collective leadership process are those that may take longer to observe and are likely to have
more persistent effects than short-term outcomes. Collective leadership is proposed to have lasting effects on both individuals,
such as their long-term job performance and job satisfaction, along with effects on the group and organization such as growth,
adaptability, and the organization’s culture. Much of the individual long-term outcomes are tied closely to short-term outcomes.
Specifically, the individual benefits that come with being given a voice in decision making will likely not just be an immediate
outcome but with persistent collective leadership will remain over time. Additionally, there are long-term developmental benefits
of a leader engaging in consultation, delegation, and empowerment such that other individuals are gaining experience in the
leadership role (Yukl, 2009).
Proposition 50. Collective leadership will be related to long-term individual outcomes.
Long-term group and organizational outcomes are often the focus of research on the benefits of various organizational processes.
These outcomes, frequently focused on the “bottom line,” are often of the greatest consequence. However, they are often the most
difficult to connect to specific processes. Additionally, given the scope of the processes occurring within larger entities like
organizations, it is difficult to pinpointwhat is causing the outcome. Based on existing research there is reason to believe that collective
leadership may be beneficial to long-termgroup and organizational outcomes such as growth, innovation, survival, adaptability, and
organizational culture. Although there is little research on collective leadership and organizational outcomes, assumptions about longterm
outcomes can be reasonably derived from the immediate outcomes and performance capabilities reviewed earlier. If, as the
research indicates, the distribution of the leadership role is related to project teamsuccess, including solution quality and originality, it
is anticipated that the aggregate of these project teamswill lead to long-terminnovation and productivity at the organizational level.
Similarly, if collective leadership results in more effective team management and builds lasting capabilities within the team for
continued performance, there will likely be long-term benefits to production and logistical processes.
Proposition 51. Collective leadership will be related to long-term group and organizational outcomes.
2.4. Situational factors
Clearly the collective leadership process does not occur in a vacuum, nor is it likely that collective leadershipwill emerge the same
way in every situation, if at all. As is the case with leadership in general, there may be situations in which the need for collective
leadership is diminished (Podsakoff &MacKenzie, 1995; Schriesheim, 1997), or situations that may affect theway inwhich collective
leadership operates within the team. There are two aspects of the situation that we propose may influence the collective leadership
process. First, there are characteristics of the setting that a specific problem or event occurs within that are likely to influence it. For
instance, theremay be aspects of the problemat handsuch as the complexity ornovelty of the problemthat can impact howleadership
operates. Additionally, there may be constraints associated with the given problem such as resource availability, the team’s existing
workload or other organizational structural impediments (Mumford, Bedell-Avers et al., 2007).
In addition to characteristics of the problem setting, static conditions within the organizational context are likely to impact
collective leadership. They may even be preconditions for collective leadership to occur. It is important to point out that the
framework that has been presented thus far is a snapshot of how collective leadership may arise for a single collective around a
single event or problem. Thus, characteristics of the problem setting are tied directly to that event. Organizational context factors,
on the other hand, are more static conditions that persist across events and may influence the collective leadership process more
2.4.1. Problem setting
As mentioned before, the framework depicts a snapshot of a single collective that emerges in response to a single event or
problem. Information about the problems enters the system via the networks: either the leader becomes aware of the problem via
their own network or issues are communicated to them through the team network. Thus, individuals are the access points for
information regarding the problem setting. Additionally, there are two general types of problem information that may come from
different sources: information about the specific problem and information about constraints or contingencies within the team or
organization that are specifically relevant to the problem. For instance, an emergency room team faced with a particular type of
trauma case will have characteristics about the specific trauma that will play a role, such as details of the patient’s injury. In
addition, they will also have information about the team or organization that will provide constraints relevant to that isolated case,
such as number of staff available to work on that particular case.
Extant research on leader and team problem-solving indicates that there are several important factors that may impact how
leaders make sense of problems, how they distribute problem-solving responsibilities, or how teams as a whole go about solving
problems. Along these lines, Mumford, Friedrich, et al. (2007) point to several characteristics of crisis events that influence how
leaders think through problems: choice optimization, complexity and ambiguity, novelty, resource accessibility, and lack of
social/structural support. Based on prior research it seems that as problems increase in complexity, the harder it may be for
leaders to distribute responsibilities. For instance, the Vroom and Yetton (1973) model of leader decision making indicates that in
situations in which the quality of the decision is important, the problem is unstructured and followers may not contribute
information beyond what the leader has him or herself, it may be best that the leader act in an autocratic manner rather than
consulting followers. Therefore, specific characteristics of the problem may influence whether, and how, collective leadership
Proposition 52. Characteristics of the specific problem will influence how the leader and team make sense of the problem and how the
leadership role is distributed in response to the problem.
Along with characteristics of the specific problem, there may be constraints within the team or organization that have
implications for the collective leadership process. Unlike organizational context factors, these may be fleeting but, more centrally,
are specifically relevant to the given event or problem. Examples include resource availability, social or structural support within
the team, or team workload. Problem constraints may dictate how information gets relayed, how leaders process and prioritize
information, and how the leadership responsibilities may get distributed. For example, Yukl and Fu (1999) conducted a study in
which they asked leaders to respond to potential reasons for delegating or not delegating responsibilities. The findings indicate
that a leader who perceived the problem to be difficult to monitor or explain to subordinates was less likely to delegate the
responsibilities. Thus, it seems that if leaders are not in a situation conducive to distributing responsibilities, such as having enough
time and resources to monitor their progress, they will be less likely to distribute the leadership role.
Similarly, there may be impediments to communication channels or network conditions specific to that problem at that given
time that will have an impact. The proposed framework is information-based and the distribution of the leadership role relies on
the communication of expertise between individuals. If leaders and other team members are unable to accurately and efficiently
access information about expertise for a given problem, the emergence of collective leadership will be hindered. In a related study,
Mesmer-Magnus and DeChurch (2009) evaluated moderators between information sharing and team performance and found
three critical conditions that may hinder information sharing (communication) between team members. They found that team
members are more likely to share information when all members know the same information, individuals are capable of making
decisions autonomously, and members are highly similar to one another. These findings appear counterintuitive to what collective
leadership hopes to encourage, which is the use of diverse available expertise to solve a problem: however, there are important
implications from these findings. Specifically, it appears that team members prefer to talk to others that share their same
information, which may be due to the ability to “speak the same language.” Thus, if it is desired that team members share diverse
information, they must be able to find common ground in order to communicate.
Proposition 53. Constraints within the team and organization that are specifically relevant to the given problem will influence how the
leader and team make sense of and work through a given problem.
2.4.2. Organizational context
As mentioned previously, the proposed framework is a snapshot of a single event. However, contextual factors are typically
static conditions that persist across events and thus their influence is particularly critical to consider. Given that the proposed
framework is information-based and relies on the idea that expertise is the determining factor by which the leadership role is
distributed, the expertise and general ability of the workforce to take on this role is a critical factor. In addition to characteristics of
the workforce, there are also structural and cultural characteristics of the organization that may impact collective leadership.
For the leadership role to be effectively distributed among multiple individuals, members of the team should not only have the
expertise to make distributing the leadership role useful, but should also have the appropriate level of professionalism, integrity,
and general leadership skill to take on the responsibility. In a study along these lines, Yukl and Fu (1999) evaluated the conditions
under which leaders were more likely to engage in delegation and consultation and found that the level of the subordinates’
competence was an important predictor for both. In addition they found high LMX, an indicator of trust, and job level were
predictors of consultation. In the context of collective leadership, it appears that characteristics of the workforce can play a critical
part in whether the distribution of the leadership role occurs and whether it will be beneficial to the problem-solving process.
Proposition 54. Characteristics of the workforce within the organization will influence the emergence and effectiveness of collective
The interactional and knowledge-based nature of collective leadership dictates the increased importance of individual’s
characteristics and how the characteristics interact with one another. The organization as a whole can also play a significant part.
Specifically, there are both structural and cultural aspects that can impact the emergence of collective leadership. Much work has
been done on the influence of organizational structure on different processes, such as innovation and organizational strategies
(Damanpour, 1991; Russell & Russell, 1992). There is reason to expect that structural issues such as hierarchy and work flow
processes may also influence collective leadership. For instance, an organization with a highly rigid hierarchy may not functionally
allow for the distribution of the leadership role, but also may communicate, via the structure, a culture that is not supportive of
diverting from defined leadership roles. Additionally, the channels of information flow may dictate how leaders are able to access
information in their network or how a network may be structured to begin with. For instance, organizations in which crossfunctional
teams and workflow is interdependent among the members, more collective leadership may emerge because the
structure forces the information exchange and awareness of each other’s roles. In a related study, Rulke and Galaskiewicz (2000)
found that the network structure within a team influenced information exchange within the team. Specifically, decentralized
structures were more conducive to information flow which was related to team performance. Thus, the structure of the network,
which influences the flow of information exchange, can have an impact on whether information is effectively exchanged and
collective leadership can emerge.
Finally, an organization’s culture can play an important role in whether collective leadership occurs. There has been significant
work on organizational culture, its many manifestations (e.g., culture for creativity, culture for safety), and the effect that it may
have on different processes (Ostroff, Kinicki, & Tamkins, 2003). An organization’s culture consists of a set of assumptions about
their shared beliefs and values that are stable and passed down to new members (Schein, 1992). The values that are
communicated through an organization’s culture can, ultimately, have a significant impact on the behavior of individuals within
an organization (Ostroff et al., 2003). Therefore, to foster collective leadership, an organization may need to create specific
organizational conditions that communicate that different elements of the collective leadership process are valued. For instance, it
would be important that the organization values collaboration, interacting with one another, sharing information, understanding
each other’s networks and roles, and understanding that a formal leader may not always be the highest level of authority within a
Proposition 55. Characteristics of the organization’s structure and culture will influence the emergence and effectiveness of collective
After decades of leadership research it is clear that there is no “leadership formula” or set of traits and behaviors that
automatically makes someone a universally good leader. To this end, several leadership scholars have begun to speculate that the
best leaders may be those that can adapt their style or set of behaviors based on what the situation requires (Yukl, 2009; Hunter
et al., 2007). Although plausible, it seems it would be a rather rare occurrence to find an individual possessing all of the skills and
abilities to lead well in all situations. Instead, it would be more realistic to expect, and perhaps encourage, multiple individuals
with a diverse set of skills and abilities to collectively act as leaders, distributing the roles based on the situation. We hope, at this
point, to have demonstrated the potential benefits of collective leadership and to have also laid out one way of interpreting how
collective leadership may occur within a team. Before turning to the implications of the framework for research and practice, and
general conclusions, we must first address some limitations of our approach.
An initial glance at the proposed framework may have some wondering where, exactly, collective leadership is given that it is
not a single component of the framework and there is no defined point at which we can say that collective leadership emerges.
Rather, collective leadership is the result of several processes and may be dynamic and shifting. Additionally, because there is not a
single pathway by which collective leadership may emerge, we did not limit our analysis to a single causal model. Thus, we have
presented our analysis as a framework, or a lens, by which we might evaluate the various processes that may lead to a leader, or
team of leaders, selectively distributing the leadership role within the team based on the expertise required for a given problem.
These multiple pathways and the complexity of the causal relationships within the framework mean that it will be quite difficult to
test the framework in its entirety. As a whole, it is not likely a testable model. Rather, different pathways or components of the
framework will need to be isolated and tested individually, and the pattern of results interpreted.
Additionally, given that there is not a specific point at which it emerges or that this point may vary depending on the situation,
measurement will be quite complex and may involve assessing residual or post-hoc indicators that collective leadership has
occurred. For example, measuring team member perceptions of the input that they had during problem-solving, or measurements
over time of who is perceived as the leader in different situations. Despite the scope of the analysis and the inclusion of multiple
pathways to collective leadership, it was still possible to develop testable propositions based on the extant literature. It is
anticipated that as studies are conducted to test these propositions, the framework can be refined and, perhaps, causal models
within it more clearly defined.
It should also be reiterated that this is a single perspective for evaluating collective leadership. Specifically, we have taken an
information or expertise-based approach to evaluating how collective leadership occurs. Other approaches may take a strictly
behavioral approach or may focus specifically on the division of roles. We have chosen the selective use of information and
expertise within a network as the basis of collective leadership because we felt it more accurately represented the dynamic nature
of how the power within a group may shift between individuals, which is often rooted in what expertise is required at the given
time, more so than what specific traits or behaviors may be needed. Information and expertise are not, however, limited to factual
information or expertise in a technical area. Rather, it may be the case that the person to whom the leadership role shifts is better
suited because they are a better motivator or have more interpersonal influence among team members. In other words, they may
have more “social expertise” rather than technical expertise. Essentially, there are multiple forms of information and expertise that
may be tapped within the network as an individual emerges or is placed into a collective leadership role.
As mentioned previously, we have loosely defined leadership as a person or multiple people serving in a capacity to influence
others. Along these lines it is not required there be an individual or group of individuals that are ever distinctly recognized as
formal leaders. It is likely that a formal leader will be present, and the emergence of a collective does not obviate a formal leader if
there is one, but it is also unnecessary that there be a formal leader. Additionally, the boundaries of what constitutes a team have
not been defined. Clearly, as steps are taken to conduct research on the present framework, it will be easier to use teams of defined
parameters. However, in keeping with the dynamic nature of the process, and the basis of collective leadership on information
flow, it seemed counterintuitive to set arbitrary boundaries on what defined a team. Additionally, the critical propositions made
concerning the emergence of collective leadership from patterns of information and expertise, are drawn more within networks
which are unstable and nebulous entities. Individuals connected within a team’s network are not exclusively connected to only
other members of the team, and those external connections may prove useful in the collective leadership process. Thus, the
borders of the team were not explicitly defined.
The final point we would like to acknowledge is the overlap present between the proposed framework and existing models of
teamwork and climate (Day et al., 2004; Ostroff et al., 2003; Zaccaro et al., 2001). First, the nature of the framework is such that it
will overlap with a number of theoretical areas. The constructs included in the proposed framework were abstracted from several
bodies of relevant literature. Additionally, we have taken a rather integrative approach to examining a concept that occurs at the
crossroads of several broad phenomena including leadership, teamwork, social networks, climate, expertise, and role allocation. As
a result of the integration, there is some overlap between the framework and existing models in these areas. However, by
integrating the models and presenting them through the lens of collective leadership, we feel a unique contribution is being made.
For instance, much of the concepts included in the team processes, team performance parameters and team performance
capabilities components of the model were abstracted from existing empirical and theoretical work on teams. Much of the extant
work on teams, however, treats the team as a homogenous whole, rather than a collection of heterogeneous members. This is a
critical diversion and contribution of the present effort. We have focused on the interaction between a leader and a team but not
lost the importance of the diversity of contributions each individual member within the team brings to the leadership process.
The argument may also be made that, perhaps, much of what is included in the model constitutes a “climate for collective
leadership” and thus may not make a contribution beyond the climate literature. Schneider (2000) defines climate as an aggregate
of individual’s perceptions about conditions within a team or organization, and it may be true that elements of the proposed
framework such as empowerment, perceptions of voice, or an expectation that individuals will collaborate and step into
leadership roles, could be elements of a climate for collective leadership. Although there may be some value to a climate for
collective leadership approach, we felt that there were more elements to the process beyond climate such as the interactions that
take place between individuals in a network, leader skills, and the functional distribution of the leadership role that could play a
critical role in collective leadership. Even considering these points of discussion and potential limitations of our approach, we feel
that the present framework provides a valuable contribution to work on collective leadership. We now turn to the implications of
the proposed framework for future research and potential application.
3.2. Implications for research and application
Work on areas closely related to collective leadership, such as shared and distributed leadership (Gronn, 2002; Hiller et al.,
2006; Pearce & Sims, 2002) and the relationship between leadership and social networks (Kilduff, Tsai, & Hanke, 2006; Sparrowe
et al., 2001) has seen rapid growth in the last decade. We believe the propositions made in the present review will add to this
movement and provide important new questions to be answered to further expand our understanding of the collective leadership
process. Although we have made propositions for each component of the framework, there are several areas that are more lacking
than others in empirical evidence. These areas include communication, leader–team exchange, social networks, and the
relationships between each of them. As we move forward in our research on collective leadership, it is necessary that we first
evaluate and refine our understanding of these critical components of the framework.
Much of the work on communication in the leadership context is focused on leader communication styles and the content of
speeches (Awamleh & Gardner, 1999; Bligh & Hess, 2007; Bligh et al., 2004). Within the context of collective leadership, however,
we must examine how leaders engage in two-way communication with followers to access information from the networks, and
also how communication influences the exchanges between leaders and teams in which the leadership roles are distributed. This
may include studies in which leader communication patterns are evaluated or the content of team discussions is coded to evaluate
the flow of information within the network. For instance, critical questions may include A) To whom are formal leaders talking
when gathering information to solve a collective problem? B) Does group discussion and flow of information predict those
identified as formal and informal leaders within the team? And C) How does communication between a leader and other team
members differ when it is for the purpose of distributing the leadership role?
Similar to communication, it is critical to expand our understanding of social networks if we are to draw conclusions about
information flow between team members and its relation to collective leadership. Social networks are the channel through which
information about the problem flows, and, just as importantly, information about team members’ available expertise is
communicated. There are bodies of research on the functional composition of teams, and there is research on how logistical
characteristics of social networks effect problem-solving, but there is little research that examines these together. To understand
how expertise is selectively utilized, we must integrate these areas and evaluate the bases of social network connections, how
information flows through the social network, and how understanding your social network and the networks of those around you
can facilitate collective leadership efforts.
The third critical area that needs further empirical work is the point at which the leadership role is distributed or the leader–
team exchange. Although there is existing work on related areas such as shared leadership, distributed leadership and
empowerment, there is little work on these areas taking an informational or expertise focus. Additionally, existing work does not
represent the dynamic nature that a collective system based on information and expertise requires. Rather, they focus more on a
static distribution of the leadership role taking a behavioral or functional perspective. Thus, it is necessary to begin to ask questions
such as A) What type of expertise will leaders engage in leader–team exchange to access? B) Under what conditions is it adaptive
for leaders to engage in leader–team exchange to access expertise rather than rely on their own skills and abilities? And C) What is
the relationship between leader–team exchange and developing team performance capabilities?
In addition to advancing empirical work on collective leadership, a few general conclusions can be drawn from the proposed
framework with regard to potential interventions to facilitate collective leadership. First, to effectively utilize the available
information and expertise within a network, it is necessary that leaders and other team members accurately interpret and exploit
those networks. Thus, it may be beneficial that leaders and team members engage in activities that increase their awareness of
their network, other team members’ networks, and the skills and abilities that the individuals in their networks can provide. Along
similar lines, for a leader to access and use the expertise of other members and distribute elements of the leadership role to them, it
may be a viable intervention to train leaders and team members on effective communication. Finally, at the point of distributing
the leadership role, leaders and team members should understand the leader–team exchange process. Specifically, to facilitate the
distribution of the leadership role, leaders should be instructed on understanding when and how to distribute responsibilities.
Members should also be prepared to take on leadership responsibilities when delegated to them. These are only a few of the many
possible interventions that may ultimately emerge from the proposed framework. It is advisable, however, that further empirical
work be done in these areas before specific intervention plans be developed.
In sum, collective leadership can have significant and beneficial implications for team and organizational processes. It creates a
more efficient use of expertise and also increases the effectiveness of leadership within the team by distributing elements of the
leadership role to those that are best suited to take them on. There are a variety of components to this highly complex process and
a multitude of factors that may influence the emergence of collective leadership. However, teams and organizations can create
conditions to foster and facilitate the process. In developing the proposed framework of collective leadership we have taken a
highly pragmatic approach to understanding how the leadership process emerges in a team. In the real world, it is unlikely and
unrealistic to expect a single person to be a well-equipped leader in all situations. Rather, we should encourage leaders and team
members to approach leadership as a collective effort that the team can be prepared for so that the response is rapid and efficient.
In this vein, collective leadership is similar to the way in which messages are transferred in the human neurological system.
Networks are structured like neurons within the brain. These connections are not flat, but rather a 3D, layered system of linkages.
Neurons serve specific roles, but there is also emergent meaning when impulses follow certain paths. Similarly, there is meaning in
the way information flows through specific patterns of team members. Finally, there is neural learning that occurs such that there
are nearly automatic responses to given stimuli. In regard to collective leadership, it is conceivable that a team could develop their
collective leadership capabilities such that the appropriate collective could be assembled rapidly in various situations. In an effort
to continually improve the efficiency of teams, while also maintaining high quality performance, it is clear that collective
leadership, through efficient responses in which valuable expertise is effectively utilized, would be highly valuable
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