In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Shared Team Leadership

  • Introduction
  • Determining the Appropriate Operationalization for Shared Team Leadership Studies

Management Shared Team Leadership
Marissa L. Shuffler, Dana C. Verhoeven, Nastassia M. Savage, Michelle Flynn, Pamela Farago
  • LAST REVIEWED: 03 June 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 September 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0131


The notion of team members sharing leadership responsibilities is not a novel one, with researchers as early as the 1950s proposing the value of looking toward multiple leaders as a way to enhance group and team outcomes. However, there has been a recent revitalization of the topic, in large part driven by not simply a desire for leadership to be shared as a way to better empower and engage teams, but more so by the changing nature of work that has increased the responsibilities of leadership beyond the capacities of a single individual. Though the research on singular (i.e., vertical) leadership is thorough and extensive, the sharing of leadership as a collective, distributed, and/or networked construct has emerged as a critical component in the modern organizational world. While numerous terms have been used to define leadership involving multiple individuals, we utilize the term shared team leadership to encapsulate the most common terminology in management literature. The ever-changing environmental conditions of teams and organizations make the sharing of leadership critical for survival, especially when tasks are interdependent and complex. Moreover, team members actively involved in accomplishing team tasks and goals may best understand the complexity of the modern organizational setting. Thus, those individuals are often in the best position to recognize and address needs of leadership. The purpose of this article is to provide an introduction to the concept of shared leadership. Specifically, we offer summaries and resources regarding the history and trends in this area, with a particular focus on the numerous ways to define this form of leadership. Further, we provide guidance regarding the particular factors and associated resources that may serve to highlight relationships that have been studied regarding the inputs, processes/emergent states, and outcomes of shared leadership, as well as contextual factors that may serve to moderate its role in organizations. Further, we offer resources that provide guidance regarding the methodological issues surrounding the many operationalizations of shared team leadership. As the empirical work in the area of shared team leadership is still growing and relatively new, yet at the same time rather complex, we have included some references at multiple points within the article, but with different annotations regarding the reference’s relevance for that particular topic or subtopic.

Key Reference Sources: Journals, Books, Major Reviews

As the construct of shared leadership continues to grow and be refined, this section contains respected high-impact journals, books, and major reviews that can be used when identifying new research in this area.

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