Published Online:https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2017.0149

“Emergent leadership”—the ascription of informal leadership responsibilities among team members—is a dynamic phenomenon that comes into place through social interactions. Yet, theory remains sparse about the importance of verbal behaviors for emergent leadership in self-managed teams over a team’s lifecycle. Adopting a functional perspective on leadership, we develop a temporal account that links changes in task-, change-, and relations-oriented communication to emergent leadership in early, middle, and late team phases. We test the hypothesized relationships in 42 teams that provided round-robin emergent leadership ratings and videotapes of their first, midterm, and final meetings. Team members’ verbal behaviors were captured using fine-grained empirical interaction coding. Multilevel modeling showed that task-oriented communication was a stable positive predictor of emergent leadership at all time points. Change-oriented communication predicted emergent leadership at the start of a project and diminished in relevance at the midterm and final meetings. Relations-oriented communication gained importance, such that an increase in relations-oriented behaviors toward the project end predicted emergent leadership. We discuss theoretical implications for conceptualizing the behavioral antecedents of emergent leadership from a time- and context-sensitive perspective.

REFERENCES

  • Aime, F., Humphrey, S., DeRue, D. S., & Paul, B. B. 2014. The riddle of heterarchy: Power transitions in cross-functional teams. Academy of Management Journal, 57: 327–352.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Anderson, C., & Kilduff, G. J. 2009. Why do dominant personalities attain influence in face-to-face groups? The competence-signaling effects of trait dominance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96: 491–503. Google Scholar
  • Antonakis, J., Bastardoz, N., Jacquart, P., & Shamir, B. 2016. Charisma: An ill-defined and ill-measured gift. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 3: 293–319. Google Scholar
  • Antonakis, J., Bendahan, S., Jacquart, P., & Lalive, R. 2014. Causality and endogeneity: Problems and solutions. In D. V. Day (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of leadership and organizations: 93–117. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  • Antonakis, J., Fenley, M., & Liechti, S. 2011. Can charisma be taught? Tests of two interventions. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 10: 374–396.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Arrow, H., Poole, M. S., Henry, K. B., Wheelan, S., & Moreland, R. 2004. Time, change, and development: The temporal perspective on groups. Small Group Research, 35: 73–105. Google Scholar
  • Bales, R. F. 1950. Interaction process analysis: A method for the study of small groups. Cambridge, MA: Addison-Wesley. Google Scholar
  • Bales, R. F. 1953. The equilibrium problem in small groups. In T. ParsonsR. F. BalesE. A. Shils (Eds.), Working papers in theory of action: 111–161. New York, NY: Free Press. Google Scholar
  • Bales, R. F., & Slater, P. E. 1955. Role differentiation in small decision-making groups. In T. ParsonsR. F. Bales (Eds.), Family, socialisation, and interaction processes: 259–306. New York, NY: Free Press. Google Scholar
  • Banks, G. C., Gooty, J., Ross, R. L., Williams, C. E., & Harrington, N. T. 2018. Construct redundancy in leader behaviors: A review and agenda for the future. Leadership Quarterly, 29: 236–251. Google Scholar
  • Barge, J. K., & Fairhurst, G. T. 2008. Living leadership: A systemic, constructionist approach. Leadership, 4: 227–251. Google Scholar
  • Bass, B. M. 1954. The leaderless group discussion. Psychological Bulletin, 51: 465–492. Google Scholar
  • Bass, B. M. 1990. From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision. Organizational Dynamics, 18: 19–31. Google Scholar
  • Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D., & Funder, D. C. 2007. Psychology as the science of self-reports and finger movements: Whatever happened to actual behavior? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2: 396–403. Google Scholar
  • Bendersky, C., & Pai, J. 2018. Status dynamics. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 5: 183–199. Google Scholar
  • Bendersky, C., & Shah, N. 2013. The downfall of extraverts and rise of neurotics: The dynamic process of status allocation in task groups. Academy of Management Journal, 56: 387–406.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Bliese, P. D. 2000. Within-group agreement, non-independence, and reliability: Implications for data aggregation and analyses. In K. J. KleinS. W. J. Kozlowski (Eds.), Multilevel theory, research, and methods in organizations: Foundations, extensions, and new directions: 349–381. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Google Scholar
  • Bluedorn, A. C., & Jaussi, K. S. 2008. Leaders, followers, and time. Leadership Quarterly, 19: 654–668. Google Scholar
  • Burke, C. S., Stagl, K. C., Klien, C., Goodwin, G. F., Salas, E., & Halpin, S. M. 2006. What type of leadership behaviors are functional in teams? A meta-analysis. Leadership Quarterly, 17: 288–307. Google Scholar
  • Carte, T. A., Chidambaram, L., & Becker, A. 2006. Emergent leadership in self-managed virtual teams. Group Decision and Negotiation, 15: 323–343. Google Scholar
  • Castillo, E. A., & Trinh, M. P. 2018. In search of missing time: A review of the study of time in leadership research. Leadership Quarterly, 29: 165–178. Google Scholar
  • Chiu, M. M., & Lehmann-Willenbrock, N. 2016. Statistical discourse analysis: Modeling sequences of individual actions during group interactions across time. Group Dynamics, 20: 242–258. Google Scholar
  • Clifton, J. 2012. A discursive approach to leadership: Doing assessments and managing organizational meanings. Journal of Business Communication, 49: 148–168. Google Scholar
  • Cohen, J. 1960. A coefficient of agreement for nominal scales. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 20: 37–46. Google Scholar
  • Collinson, D. 2005. Dialectics of leadership. Human Relations, 58: 1419–1442. Google Scholar
  • Courtright, J. A., Fairhurst, G. T., & Rogers, L. E. 1989. Interaction patterns in organic and mechanistic systems. Academy of Management Journal, 32: 773–802.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Couzin, I. D., Krause, J., Franks, N. R., & Levin, S. A. 2005. Effective leadership and decision-making in animal groups on the move. Nature, 433: 513–516. Google Scholar
  • Day, D. V., & Antonakis, J. 2012. Leadership: Past, present, and future. In D. V. DayJ. Antonakis (Eds.), The nature of leadership (2nd ed.): 3–29. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE. Google Scholar
  • Day, D., Gronn, P., & Salas, E. 2004. Leadership capacity in teams. Leadership Quarterly, 15: 857–880. Google Scholar
  • Denis, J.-L., Langley, A., & Sergi, V. 2012. Leadership in the plural. Academy of Management Annals, 6: 211–283.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • DeRue, D. S., & Ashford, S. J. 2010. Who will lead and who will follow? A social process of leadership identity construction in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 35: 627–647.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • DeRue, D. S., Nahrgang, J. D., Wellman, N., & Humphrey, S. E. 2011. Trait and behavioral theories of leadership: An integration and meta-analytic test of their relative validity. Personnel Psychology, 64: 7–52. Google Scholar
  • De Souza, G., & Klein, H. J. 1995. Emergent leadership in the group goal-setting process. Small Group Research, 26: 475–496. Google Scholar
  • Ekvall, G., & Arvonen, J. 1991. Change-centered leadership: An extension of the two-dimensional model. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 7: 17–26. Google Scholar
  • Ericksen, J., & Dyer, L. 2004. Right from the start: Exploring the effects of early team events on subsequent project team development and performance. Administrative Science Quarterly, 49: 438–471. Google Scholar
  • Fairhurst, G. T. 2009. Considering context in discursive leadership research. Human Relations, 62: 1607–1633. Google Scholar
  • Fairhurst, G. T., & Antonakis, J. 2012. A research agenda for relational leadership. In M. Uhl-BienS. M. Ospina (Eds.), Advancing relational leadership theory: A dialogue among perspectives: 433–459. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. Google Scholar
  • Fairhurst, G. T., & Connaughton, S. L. 2014. Leadership: A communicative perspective. Leadership, 10: 7–35. Google Scholar
  • Fairhurst, G. T., Green, S. G., & Courtright, J. A. 1995. Inertial forces and the implementation of a socio-technical systems intervention. Organization Science, 6: 168–185. Google Scholar
  • Fairhurst, G. T., & Uhl-Bien, M. 2012. Organizational discourse analysis (ODA): Examining leadership as a relational process. Leadership Quarterly, 23: 1043–1062. Google Scholar
  • Fisher, C. M. 2017. An ounce of prevention or a pound of cure? Two experiments on in-process interventions in decision-making groups. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 138: 59–73. Google Scholar
  • Fleishman, E. A., Mumford, M. D., Zaccaro, S. J., Levin, K. Y., Korotkin, A. L., & Hein, M. B. 1991. Taxonomic efforts in the description of leader behavior: A synthesis and functional interpretation. Leadership Quarterly, 2: 245–287. Google Scholar
  • Frese, M., Beimel, S., & Schoenborn, S. 2003. Action training for charismatic leadership: Two evaluations of studies of a commercial training module on inspirational communication of a vision. Personnel Psychology, 56: 671–697. Google Scholar
  • Frone, M. R., Adams, J., Rice, R. W., & Instone-Noonan, D. 1986. Halo error: A field study comparison of self- and subordinate evaluations of leadership process and leader effectiveness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 12: 454–461. Google Scholar
  • Gerbner, G. 1956. Toward a general model of communication. Educational Technology Research and Development, 4: 171–199. Google Scholar
  • Gerpott, F. H., Lehmann-Willenbrock, N., Silvis, J., & van Vugt, M. 2018. In the eye of the beholder? An eye-tracking experiment on emergent leadership in team interactions. Leadership Quarterly, 29: 523–532. Google Scholar
  • Gersick, C. J. 1988. Time and transition in work teams: Toward a new model of group development. Academy of Management Journal, 31: 9–41.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Gersick, C. J. 1989. Marking time: Predictable transitions in task groups. Academy of Management Journal, 32: 274–309.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Guastello, S. J. 2007. Non-linear dynamics and leadership emergence. Leadership Quarterly, 18: 357–369. Google Scholar
  • Hackman, J. R., & Wageman, R. 2005. A theory of team coaching. Academy of Management Review, 30: 269–287.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Hackman, J. R., & Walton, R. E. 1986. Leading groups in organizations. In P. S. Goodman (Ed.), Designing effective work groups: 72–119. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Google Scholar
  • Heck, R. H., Thomas, S. L., & Tabata, L. N. 2014. Multilevel and longitudinal modeling with IBM SPSS. New York, NY: Routledge. Google Scholar
  • Hoffman, E. L., & Lord, R. G. 2013. A taxonomy of event-level dimensions: Implications for understanding leadership processes, behavior, and performance. Leadership Quarterly, 24: 558–571. Google Scholar
  • Ilgen, D. R., Hollenbeck, J. R., Johnson, M., & Jundt, D. 2005. Teams in organizations: From input-process-output models to IMOI models. Annual Review of Psychology, 56: 517–543. Google Scholar
  • Jermier, J. M., & Kerr, S. 1997. “Substitutes for leadership: Their meaning and measurement” —Contextual recollections and current observations. Leadership Quarterly, 8: 95–101. Google Scholar
  • Johnson, S. D., & Bechler, C. 1998. Examining the relationship between listening effectiveness and leadership emergence: Perceptions, behaviors, and recall. Small Group Research, 29: 452–471. Google Scholar
  • Judge, T. A., Bono, J. E., Ilies, R., & Gerhardt, M. W. 2002. Personality and leadership: A qualitative and quantitative review. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87: 765–780. Google Scholar
  • Kauffeld, S., & Lehmann-Willenbrock, N. 2012. Meetings matter: Effects of team meetings on team and organizational success. Small Group Research, 43: 130–158. Google Scholar
  • Kerr, S., & Jermier, J. M. 1978. Substitutes for leadership: Their meaning and measurement. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 22: 375–403. Google Scholar
  • Keyton, J., & Beck, S. J. 2009. The influential role of relational messages in group interaction. Group Dynamics, 13: 14–30. Google Scholar
  • Kirkpatrick, S. A., & Locke, E. A. 1996. Direct and indirect effects of three core charismatic leadership components on performance and attitudes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81: 36–51. Google Scholar
  • Kirscht, J. P., Lodahl, T. M., & Haire, M. 1959. Some factors in the selection of leaders by members of small groups. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 58: 406–408. Google Scholar
  • Knight, A. P. 2015. Mood at the midpoint: Affect and change in exploratory search over time in teams that face a deadline. Organization Science, 26: 99–118. Google Scholar
  • Kozlowski, S. W. J., Gully, S. M., Nason, E. R., & Smith, E. M. 1999. Developing adaptive teams: A theory of compilation and performance across levels and time. In D. R. IlgenE. D. Pulakos (Eds.), The changing nature of work performance: Implications for staffing, personnel actions, and development: 240–292. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Google Scholar
  • Kozlowski, S. W. J., Watola, D. J., Nowakowski, J. M., Kim, B. H., & Botero, I. C. 2009. Developing adaptive teams: A theory of dynamic team leadership. In E. SalasG. F. GoodwinC. S. Burke (Eds.), Team effectiveness in complex organizations: Cross-disciplinary perspectives and approaches: 113–156. New York, NY: Psychology Press. Google Scholar
  • Lacoursiere, R. B. 1980. The life cycle of groups: Group developmental stage theory. New York, NY: Human Science Press. Google Scholar
  • Lanaj, K., & Hollenbeck, J. R. 2015. Leadership over-emergence in self-managing teams: The role of gender and countervailing biases. Academy of Management Journal, 58: 1476–1494.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Lehmann-Willenbrock, N., & Allen, J. A. 2014. How fun are your meetings? Investigating the relationship between humor patterns in team interactions and team performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 99: 1278–1287. Google Scholar
  • Lehmann-Willenbrock, N., Meinecke, A. L., Rowold, J., & Kauffeld, S. 2015. How transformational leadership works during team interactions: A behavioral process analysis. Leadership Quarterly, 26: 1017–1033. Google Scholar
  • Littlepage, G., Robison, W., & Reddington, K. 1997. Effects of task experience and group experience on group performance, member ability, and recognition of expertise. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 69: 133–147. Google Scholar
  • Lonetto, R., & Williams, D. 1974. Personality, behavioural and output variables in a small group task situation: An examination of consensual leader and non-leader differences. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 6: 59–74. Google Scholar
  • Magpili, N. C., & Pazos, P. 2018. Self-managing team performance: A systematic review of multilevel input factors. Small Group Research, 49: 3–33. Google Scholar
  • Mangold. 2010. INTERACT quick start manual V2.4. Arnstorf, Germany: Mangold International. Retrieved from www.mangold-international.com. Google Scholar
  • Marks, M. A., Mathieu, J. E., & Zaccaro, S. J. 2001. A temporally based framework and taxonomy of team processes. Academy of Management Review, 26: 356–376.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • McClean, E., Martin, S. R., Emich, K., & Woodruff, T. 2018. The social consequences of voice: An examination of voice type and gender on status and subsequent leader emergence. Academy of Management Journal, 61: 1869–1891.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • McGrath, J. E. 1962. Leadership behavior: Some requirements for leadership training. Washington, DC: U.S. Civil Service Commission, Office of Career Development. Google Scholar
  • McGrath, J. E. 1991. Time, interaction, and performance (TIP): A theory of groups. Small Group Research, 22: 147–174. Google Scholar
  • Mintzberg, H. 1973. The nature of managerial work. New York, NY: Harper & Row. Google Scholar
  • Mitchell, T. R., & James, L. R. 2001. Building better theory: Time and the specification of when things happen. Academy of Management Review, 26: 530–547.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Mohammed, S., & Nadkarni, S. 2011. Temporal diversity and team performance: The moderating role of team temporal leadership. Academy of Management Journal, 54: 489–508.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Morgeson, F. P., DeRue, D. S., & Karam, E. P. 2010. Leadership in teams: A functional approach to understanding leadership structures and processes. Journal of Management, 36: 5–39. Google Scholar
  • Morris, C. G., & Hackman, J. R. 1969. Behavioral correlates of perceived leadership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 13: 350–361. Google Scholar
  • Oh, S.-H. 2012. Leadership emergence in autonomous work teams: Who is more willing to lead? Social Behavior and Personality, 40: 1451–1464. Google Scholar
  • Okhuysen, G. A., & Waller, M. J. 2002. Focusing on midpoint transitions: An analysis of boundary conditions. Academy of Management Journal, 45: 1056–1065.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Pavitt, C. 1999. Theorizing about the group communication–leadership relationship. In L. R. FreyD. GouranM. S. Poole (Eds.), The handbook of group communication theory and research: 313–334. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. Google Scholar
  • Pavitt, C., Whitchurch, G., Siple, H., & Petersen, N. 1997. Communication and emergent group leadership: Does content count? Communication Research Reports, 14: 470–480. Google Scholar
  • Pescosolido, A. T. 2002. Emergent leaders as managers of group emotion. Leadership Quarterly, 13: 583–599. Google Scholar
  • Ployhart, R. E., & Ward, A. 2011. The “quick start guide” for conducting and publishing longitudinal research. Journal of Business and Psychology, 26: 413–422. Google Scholar
  • Pondy, L. R. 1989. Leadership is a language game. In H. J. LeavittL. R. PondyD. M. Boje (Eds.), Readings in managerial psychology (4th ed.): 224–233. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar
  • Poole, M. S., & Folger, J. P. 1981. Modes of observation and the validation of interaction analysis schemes. Small Group Behavior, 12: 477–493. Google Scholar
  • Poole, M. S., & Hewes, D. E. 2017. Reliability and validity in the measurement of social interaction. In C. A. VanLearD. J. Canary (Eds.), Researching interactive communication behavior: A sourcebook of methods and measures: 217–233. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. Google Scholar
  • Rauch, C. F., & Behling, O. 1984. Functionalism: Basis for an alternate approach to the study of leadership. In J. G. HuntD. M. HoskingC. A. SchriesheimR. Stewart (Eds.), Leaders and managers: International perspectives on managerial behavior and leadership: 45–62. New York, NY: Pergamon Press. Google Scholar
  • Riggio, R. E., Riggio, H. R., Salinas, C., & Cole, E. J. 2003. The role of social and emotional communication skills in leader emergence and effectiveness. Group Dynamics, 7: 83–103. Google Scholar
  • Rogers, L. E., & Cummings, J. A. 2017. Relational communication control. In C. A. VanLearD. J. Canary (Eds.), Researching interactive communication behavior: A sourcebook of methods and measures: 93–106. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. Google Scholar
  • Ruben, B. D., & Gigliotti, R. A. 2016. Leadership as social influence. An expanded view of leadership communication theory and practice. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 23: 467–479. Google Scholar
  • Schön, D. A. 1983. The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York, NY: Basic Books. Google Scholar
  • Shamir, B. 2011. Leadership takes time: Some implications of (not) taking time seriously in leadership research. Leadership Quarterly, 22: 307–315. Google Scholar
  • Singer, J. D., & Willett, J. B. 2003. Applied longitudinal data analysis. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  • Spisak, B. R., O’Brien, M. J., Nicholson, N., & van Vugt, M. 2015. Niche construction and the evolution of leadership. Academy of Management Review, 40: 291–306.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Taggar, S., Hackew, R., & Saha, S. 1999. Leadership emergence in autonomous work teams: Antecedents and outcomes. Personnel Psychology, 52: 899–926. Google Scholar
  • Tuckman, B. W. 1965. Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63: 384–399. Google Scholar
  • Tuckman, B. W., & Jensen, M. A. 1977. Stages of small-group development revisited. Group & Organization Studies, 2: 419–427. Google Scholar
  • Uhl-Bien, M. 2006. Relational leadership theory: Exploring the social processes of leadership and organizing. Leadership Quarterly, 17: 654–676. Google Scholar
  • Uhl-Bien, M., Marion, R., & McKelvey, B. 2007. Complexity leadership theory: Shifting leadership from the industrial age to the knowledge era. Leadership Quarterly, 18: 298–318. Google Scholar
  • van Knippenberg, D., & Sitkin, S. B. 2013. A critical assessment of charismatic–transformational leadership research: Back to the drawing board? Academy of Management Annals, 7: 1–60.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • VanLear, C. A. 2017. Modeling and analyzing behaviors and the dynamics of behavioral interaction. In C. A. VanLearD. J. Canary (Eds.), Researching interactive communication behavior: A sourcebook of methods and measures: 235–260. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. Google Scholar
  • van Maanen, J., Sørensen, J. B., & Mitchell, T. R. 2007. The interplay between theory and method. Academy of Management Review, 32: 1145–1154.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Van Quaquebeke, N., & Felps, W. 2018. Respectful inquiry: A motivational account of leading through asking questions and listening. Academy of Management Review, 43: 5–27.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • van Vugt, M. 2006. Evolutionary origins of leadership and followership. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10: 354–371. Google Scholar
  • van Vugt, M. 2017. Naturally selected? Clues about leadership from the animal world. European Business Review, 9/10: 14–17. Google Scholar
  • Walker, R., & Aritz, J. 2014. Leadership talk: A discourse approach to leader emergence. New York, NY: Business Expert Press. Google Scholar
  • Watzlawick, P., Beavin, J. H., & Jackson, D. D. 1967. Pragmatics of human communication: A study of interactional patterns, pathologies and paradoxes. New York, NY: Norton & Company. Google Scholar
  • Wellman, N. 2017. Authority or community? A relational models theory of group-level leadership emergence. Academy of Management Review, 42: 596–617.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Wolff, S. B., Pescosolido, A. T., & Druskat, V. 2002. Emotional intelligence as the basis of leadership emergence in self-managing teams. Leadership Quarterly, 13: 505–522. Google Scholar
  • Woolley, A. W. 2009. Putting first things first: Outcome and process focus in knowledge work teams. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30: 427–452. Google Scholar
  • Yukl, G. 2012. Effective leadership behavior: What we know and what questions need more attention. Academy of Management Perspectives, 26: 66–85.LinkGoogle Scholar
  • Yukl, G., Gordon, A., & Taber, T. 2002. A hierarchical taxonomy of leadership behavior: Integrating a half century of behavior research. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 9: 15–32. Google Scholar
  • Yukl, G., & Mahsud, R. 2010. Why flexible and adaptive leadership is essential. Consulting Psychology Journal, 62: 81–93. Google Scholar
  • Zaccaro, S. J., Rittman, A. L., & Marks, M. A. 2001. Team leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 12: 451–483. Google Scholar