Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Does Team Leadership Matter?

I recently conducted a brief survey measuring two different types of team leadership models: external team leadership and shared team leadership. Results indicated that there was no significant difference between the two types of team leadership models. This is based on the participants’ perceptions. A brief summary of the survey is provided below.

Introduction / Background

Today, organizations rely on teams more than ever due to the complex environment they operate in. Organizational performance relies, in part, on team effectiveness and on the teams’ leadership structure. Zaccaro, Rittman, and Marks (2001) stressed this point by indicating: “as many organizations move from a traditional hierarchical structure to a more team-based one, team processes have an increasingly important influence on leader and organizational effectiveness” (p. 477).

Despite the growing emphasis on team structures within the organizational landscape, Burke et al. (2006) identified that little is known between leader behaviors and team effectiveness. Zaccaro et al. (2001) indicated that little is known relating to how leaders manage effective teams: “In spite of vast literatures in both leadership and team dynamics, there are few conceptual frameworks of how leaders contribute systematically to team effectiveness” (p. 477).

Mathieu, Maynard, Rapp, and Gilson (2008) identified that external team leadership and shared leadership models “hold particular promise for future research efforts” (p. 449). External team leadership relates to the influence and authority that a leader has over a team; one who is responsible for the teams’ performance, one who serves as coordinator of operations, and one who is a liaison and guide for the team (Mathieu et al., 2008). Druskat and Wheeler (2003) identified that external leaders were a forgotten group - organizations concentrated more on building teams rather than supporting external team leaders. In contrast, shared leadership refers to the distribution of leadership duties among team members. Mathieu et al. (2008) identified that shared leadership “emerges from members’ collective knowledge, skills, and abilities” (p. 450).

Purpose of the Study

This survey adds to research efforts relating to team leadership, which comes at a critical time as more organizations rely on teams to become more effective in a complex environment. The purpose of this survey is to identify participant perceptions of different team leadership models: specifically external team leadership and shared team leadership.


The major findings from this survey indicated that there is no real difference between the types of leadership models incorporated in teams. Team effectiveness does not appear to be affected by the type of leadership model that is used.


Burke et al. (2006) identified the “examination of the conditions under which leadership matters the most is of the utmost importance” (p. 303). Future research could look at when leadership becomes an important component to team effectiveness.

Implications for Practice

This study indicated that team leadership style did not have an affect on team performance. This could hold true as long as good leadership practices are being followed. Participants had a preference to the type of team leadership that worked best for them, but data indicated they could perform in either type of team leadership model. Regardless of the team leadership model, as long as fundamental leadership practices are being performed team effectiveness should sustain, if not improve.

*Note: For full details about study request a copy in the comment section.


Burke, C. S., Stagl, K. C., Klein, 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. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.20060.2.007

Druskat, V. U., & Wheeler, J. V. (2003). Managing from the boundary: The effective leadership of self-managing work teams. Academy of Management Journal, 46(4), 435-457. Retrieved from http://journals.aomonline.org/amj/

Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Buchner, A., & Lang, A. (2009). Statistical power analysis using G*Power 3.1: Test for correlation and regression analyses. Behavior Research Methods 41(4), 1149-1160. doi: 10.3758/BRM.41.4.1149

Huck, S. W. (2008). Reading Statistics And Research (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson

Lemieux-Charles, L., Murray, M., Baker, R. G., Barnsley, J., Tasa, K., & Ibrahim, S. A. (2002). The effects of quality improvement practices on team effectiveness: a meditational model. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 533-553. doi: 10.1002/job.154

Mathieu, J., Maynard, M. T., Rapp, T., & Gilson, L. (2008). Team effectiveness 1997-2007: A review of recent advancements and a glimpse into the future. Journal of Management, 34, 410-476. doi: 10.1177/0149206308316061

Zaccaro, S. J., Rittman, A. L., & Marks, M. A. (2001). Team leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 12(4), 451-483. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

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