The importance of self‐ and shared leadership in team based knowledge work

Michelle C. Bligh (School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California, USA)
Craig L. Pearce (Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California, USA)
Jeffrey C. Kohles (College of Business Administration, California State University San Marcos, San Marcos, California, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Publication date: 1 June 2006



To address the increasing need for novel approaches to leadership that deal with the challenges organizations face as they flatten, diversify, and confront increasingly complex problems.


A meso‐level theoretical model is developed that outlines the relationship between self‐ and shared leadership, focusing on the intermediary processes of trust, potency, and commitment that may lead to the development of shared leadership and ultimately more innovative knowledge creation.


Nine propositions are developed, addressing the relationships between self‐ and shared leadership, concluding with some of the theoretical and practical implications of the model and specific recommendations for future empirical work in this area.

Research limitations/implications

An important boundary condition of the model is that it assumes team and organizational incentives are in place to encourage team building and the facilitation of team over individual achievements.

Practical implications

Conceptualizing leadership in this way leads to numerous unanswered questions regarding how team dynamics influence, and are influenced by, various forms of leadership (including lateral, upward, and downward influence attempts). Greater dialogue between the team dynamics literature and the leadership literature may lead to new insights into how shared leadership is influenced by a variety of team characteristics, including team ability, size, member maturity, familiarity, likeability, cohesion, etc., all of which are potential areas for future research.


Important research questions that stem from consideration of these two theories in concert will prove critical in understanding the complex interrelationships among self‐leadership, shared leadership, and the creation of new knowledge in today's complex and dynamic organizations.



Bligh, M., Pearce, C. and Kohles, J. (2006), "The importance of self‐ and shared leadership in team based knowledge work", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 296-318.

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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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