Autonomy in Distributed Teams: The Roles of Leader Role Clarity and Daily Team Communication
In the contemporary digital era, leader roles largely shift to coordination of distributed teams via digital means in order to keep the team members connected as well as autonomous. We propose that too much autonomy, especially when the distributed teams are loosely coupled and the leaders’ roles are diffuse, can be detrimental. Particularly, we propose that finding the right balance between granted autonomy and connectedness is key for leadership functioning, both in terms of team members perceiving their leaders as effective (Study 1), and in terms of the team coordination that results from the leaders’ efforts (Study 2). Moreover, we found that the curvilinear effect of autonomy on leadership functioning is contingent on the leaders’ own role clarity (Study 1) as well as on the daily communication between the team at large (Study 2)."