Formal Supervisors' Role in Stimulating Team Members' Informal Leader Emergence: Supervisor and Member Status as Critical Moderators

Roman Briker, Sebastian Hohmann, Frank Walter, Catherine K. Lam, Yong Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Teams can benefit markedly when formal supervisors stimulate their individual members’ emergence as informal leaders. Combining insights from informal leadership research and social learning theory, we cast supervisors’ role modeling of initiating structure and consideration behaviors as seemingly straightforward means of achieving this—but we suggest that the success of such role modeling critically hinges on supervisors’ as well as members’ status in the team. Results from a study of 220 nurses across 48 teams showed, accordingly, that a supervisor’s initiating structure promoted individual members’ informal leader emergence by increasing members’ respective behavior. This indirect relationship only materialized, however, among relatively high-status supervisors and relatively low-status members. Moreover, although supervisors’ and members’ consideration were positively related (among relatively high-status supervisors, and largely irrespective of a member’s status), such behavior did not influence members’ emergence as informal leaders. Together, these findings offer novel insights into how, when, and why formal supervisors may aid their team members’ attainment of informal leader roles. They shed new light on the complexity of formal–informal leadership linkages, with both supervisors’ and members’ standing in the team representing crucial, yet heretofore largely unexamined boundary conditions for formal supervisors’ respective influence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913-932
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Volume42
Issue number7
Early online date5 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • consideration
  • informal leadership
  • initiating structure
  • leader emergence
  • status
  • HIERARCHICAL LINEAR-MODELS
  • TRICKLE-DOWN
  • INITIATING STRUCTURE
  • TASK-PERFORMANCE
  • MEDIATING ROLE
  • SOCIAL POWER
  • GENDER
  • MANAGEMENT
  • BEHAVIORS
  • VALUES

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