For this research paper you have an opportunity to research and think deeply and critically about some of the essentials of leadership. Specifically, we would like you to research and think about the things that cause some individuals to emerge as informal leaders in the workplace. The goal is to learn what it takes to lead from wherever a person is in an organization rather than focusing only on what is expected of those in senior positions.
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In tackling this project it may be helpful to think about colleagues with whom you have worked who do not hold formal leadership positions but who have the characteristics, behaviors, and attitudes that have caused them to emerge and be perceived by others as leaders. These are people who are recognized by and are able to influence others even though they may have little or no formal power or authority. These are the people who, for example, take initiative when others step back, who “go the extra mile,” whose commitment to mission and goals is readily apparent, and/or who may make personal sacrifices to help support a teammate. You may well be one of these informal leaders. And, if you are not now, the fact that you are pursuing an MBA suggests this is likely your goal. As Robbins and Judge (2016) write, this kind of leadership – “the ability to influence that arises outside the formal structure of the organization – is often as important or more important than formal positions of influence” (p.192).
Of course, it is important that you have an opportunity to think about leadership in situations and with followers that are relevant and meaningful for you. One challenge with considering situations that affect you personally is it is hard to be as objective and unbiased as expected for graduate level work. Browne and Keeley’s critical thinking model, or some components thereof, should help you remember to consider alternative perspectives, look for bias in your own thinking and that of others, recognize how your assumptions and those of your sources may be influencing your positions and conclusions, and question the quality of the evidence you and your sources are presenting.
When you conduct your research you will find that this topic of emergent leadership and the questions about how, when, and why it happens have been a significant focus of scholars who have studied teams. More recently scholars interested in social networks, both internal and external to the organization, have also contributed useful insights to this topic.
Besides the above requirements to focus on informal leadership and to strive for scholarly rigor, the scenario that helps you think about this paper is yours to choose. You might write this from the perspective of a seasoned worker wishing to share important ideas with young people just joining your organization. You might write this as something you might want to include with your professional portfolio along with your résumé — a paper that illustrates your writing, research, and thinking skills. Or perhaps this is something you might want to write for your supervisor to illustrate your understanding and readiness for a leadership position or advancement in your organization. If one of these scenarios doesn’t work for you consult with us on an alternative idea that helps you think about who your likely audience might be and what it would be important for the person or people to know about leadership by those without position power.
III. Steps to Completion:
Step 1: Now is a good time to think about a tentative title for your paper. This can help you clarify your purpose and focus. You know you want to look at informal or emergent leadership. And you know your interest is in discovering essential factors that cause some to be recognized as leaders while those working alongside them, with many of the same apparent qualifications and characteristics, do not. Are there other things you know about your intended focus that you might want to capture in this preliminary title?
Step 2: At this point it is a good idea to create a preliminary outline for your paper. Include some of the main questions you will address and points you will want to be sure to make and support. It is useful to do this before “digging into” your research because it helps you see how you might want to limit your scope to make it manageable and frame your research strategy and terms.
Step 3: Now do your research, searching for strong scholarly work that helps you deepen your understanding of informal or emergent leadership and the essential factors for which you are searching. Begin by developing a broad understanding of the scholarly work that has been done on this topic and then narrow your focus and search to make sure you also capture points that may be particularly important for the situation/scenario you have selected. Some sources that might help you get started are listed under the resources section below.
Step 4: Write your paper, using APA formatting requirements, and submit it to Turnitin in sufficient time to make needed corrections before posting it in your assignment folder. Be sure to include a title page, an abstract, and a list of references. It is likely you will want to amend your title now that you have completed your process of discovery, reflection, and critical thinking. The length of your paper should be from 2500 to 3500 words, not including the title page, abstract and references. Please use section headings to make it easy to read and following your thinking. Besides the title, abstract, and references include the following section headings to organize your work: Introduction (approximately 250 – 350 words), Context/Scenario (approx. 250 – 350 words), Theoretical Framework (approximately 800 – 1100 words), Application and Analysis (900 – 1200 words), Conclusions and Reflections (approximately 300 – 500 words).
Robbins, S.P., and Judge, T.A. (2016). Essentials of organizational behavior. (13th ed.).Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. Besides the chapters on leadership and power and politics, you will find useful background information in several other chapters. It is reasonable to assume that attitudes, job satisfaction, personality, values, perception, motivation, and communication may all have implications for people who emerge as informal leaders in organizations. Recall, however, that textbooks offer simple summaries of a broad array of topics and therefore should not be relied upon as primary sources for your paper.
Instead you should be relying upon articles in strong scholarly journals that publish research relevant to this topic by leading experts. The articles in eReserves and the journals in the “Journals to Use and Cite: Leading Business, Management & Technology Journals” are excellent sources of information.
Below are a few articles that might give you some good ideas and leads. Some of these are cited by Robbins and Judge in their summaries.These are not provided as required resources. Please do not worry. You are not expected to read and cite them all. Rather, these are just suggested as potentially relevant and interesting sources and/or as leads to other work that may be useful for you.
Amos, B., & Klimoski, R. J. (2014). Courage: Making Teamwork Work Well. Group & Organization Management, 39(1), 110-128.
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(2), 491-503.
Carson, J. B., Tesluk, P. E., & Marrone, J. A. (2007). Shared leadership in teams: an investigation of antecedent conditions and performance. Academy Of Management Journal, 50(5), 1217-1234.
Chan, K., & Drasgow, F. (2001). Toward a theory of individual differences and leadership: Understanding the motivation to lead. Journal Of Applied Psychology, 86(3), 481-498.
Côté, S., Lopes, P.N., Salovey, P., Miners, C.T.H. (2010). Emotional intelligence and leadership emergence in small groups. Leadership Quarterly, 21(3), 496–508.
Dries, N., & Pepermans, R. (2012). How to identify leadership potential: Development and testing of a consensus model. Human Resource Management, 51(3), 361-385.
Emery, C. (2012, October). Uncovering the role of emotional abilities in leadership emergence. A longitudinal analysis of leadership networks. Social Networks, 34(4), 429-437.
Felfe,J., & Schyns, B. (2014). Romance of leadership and motivation to lead. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 29(7), 850 – 865
Harms, P.D., Roberts, B.W., & Wood, D. (2007, June). Who shall lead? An integrative personality approach to the study of the antecedents of status in informal social organizations. Journal of Research in Personality, 41(3), 689 – 699.
Kellett, J. B., Humphrey, R. H., & Sleeth, R. G. (2006). Empathy and the emergence of task and relations leaders. Leadership Quarterly, 17(2), 146-162.
Luria, G., & Berson, Y. (2013, October). How do leadership motives affect informal and formal leadership emergence? Journal of Organizational Behavior, 34(7), 995 -1015.
Mumford, M. D., Watts, L. L., & Partlow, P. J. (2015). Leader cognition: Approaches and findings. Leadership Quarterly, 26(3), 301-306.
Neubert, M.J., & Taggar, S. (2004). Pathways to informal leadership: The moderating role of gender on the relationship of individual differences and team member network centrality to informal leadership emergence. The Leadership Quarterly, 15(2), 175-194.
Schuh, S. C., Hernandez Bark, A.,S., Van Quaquebeke, N., Hossiep, R., Frieg, P., & Van Dick, R. (2014). Gender differences in leadership role occupancy: The mediating role of power motivation. Journal of Business Ethics, 120(3), 363-379.
Serban, A., Yammarino, F.J., Dionne, S.D., Kahai, S.S., Hao, C., McHugh, K.A., Sotak, K.L., Mushore, A.B.R., Friedrich, T.L., & Peterson, D.R. (2015, June). Leadership emergence in face-to-face and virtual teams: A multi-level model with agent-based simulations, quasi-experimental and experimental tests.The Leadership Quarterly, 26(3), 402 -418.
VII. Frequently Asked Questions
Should I use first person? This depends on your scenario, it is best to avoid using first person in case you want to use this paper for different future situations.
Should I plan on actually sharing this paper as envisaged in the scenario I selected? No. In all likelihood you would want to make changes to this after you receive feedback from your professor.
May I cite Robbins and Judge? Yes, but this should not serve as a primary source. You should look for work on this topic that offers greater depth, whether by introducing a theoretical argument or by reporting on the results of original research.
Do I have to write about ALL the factors that enable informal leaders to influence others or can I focus on those that seem most relevant and important given my situation? You will almost certainly want to examine a subset of factors. You will need to explain your rationale for choosing the factors you do include and the possible limitations of ignoring others. Factors that seem important given the focus of this assignment include but are not limited to:
The extent to which the big five personality factors may be helpful in explaining why some people emerge and are effective at influencing others.
How and why values, ethics, ethical decision-making, and the ability to be authentic should be considered.
The relative importance of such leadership behaviors as initiating structure (task orientation), consideration (relationship orientation), empathy, and caring.
The ability to form and maintain effective relations with others.
Evidence of high levels of competency in self-awareness and self-management (emotional intelligence and competency).
The ability to influence others using rational persuasion, inspirational appeals, and collaboration.
The extent to which expertise and/or intellectual ability may be important.
The ability to trust and be trusted by others.