Leadership development with the aim of enhancing team functioning and improving learning progress
What is it that enables some teams to outperform others? What makes some teams fast learners and others perpetual runners up? Research suggests that leadership is one of the key factors that contributes to competitive advantage. However, implementing a leadership structure that delivers the desired competitive advantage is far from straightforward.
While traditional approaches to leadership development considered vertical leadership (i.e., with the leader being hierarchically positioned above the team) to be optimal, recent research argues that leadership is most effective when it is shared. In these terms, leadership should not emanate only from a single formal leader, but be broadly distributed among team members.
While consultants offer plenty of personal leadership development programs for formal team leaders (e.g., coaches, teachers), there is a clear need for programs aiming to further develop the leadership potential within the team (i.e., team members who occupy leadership roles).
In response to this need, we developed the 5R Shared Leadership Program, thereby drawing on a growing body of evidence indicating that followers are more likely to be influenced by leaders who engage in group-oriented leadership, inspired by the Social Identity Approach to Leadership. In other words, effective leaders succeed in making people think, feel, and behave as members of the same team (i.e., as ‘we’, in terms of a social identity), rather than as separate individuals (i.e., as ‘I’, in terms of a personal identity).
In this doctoral project, we aim to test and optimize the effectiveness of this program in three different settings; the sports context (athletes as leaders), the educational context (students as leaders), and the physical activity context (leaders in elderly walking groups). Besides this group-based intervention, we will test whether further individual development of the appointed leaders, being aimed at increasing their content knowledge, can lead to additional gains in leader effectiveness and learning progress in the team.