Leadership Lessons from Compelling Contexts: Volume 8

Cover of Leadership Lessons from Compelling Contexts
Subject:

Table of contents

(25 chapters)
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Abstract

This volume is dedicated to furthering our understanding of the importance of context in the development and application of leadership theory, advancing our knowledge of when, how, and under what conditions context matters most. Leadership is fundamentally a contextual phenomenon, constantly evolving, changing, and being applied in a specific environment. In this introductory chapter, I highlight key themes and aspects of dynamic and often paradoxical leadership across a wide domain of industries and contexts. First, I examine the importance of context across the chapters of the volume, including different domains, to different degrees, and from different theoretical angles. In some of the domains, context shapes the style or type of leadership that is needed, while in others, the context highlights to an extreme degree the aspects of leadership that may be invisible or less salient in different settings, but nevertheless characterize most leadership situations. I subsequently provide an overview of each of the chapters of the volume, examining leadership in the context of sports and competition, extreme “life or death” contexts, creative industries, and values-based and caring organizations. The four parts of the volume highlight leadership themes and connections across contexts and settings, including adaptability, dealing with paradox, and relational leader–follower and team dynamics.

Part I Sports and Competition

Abstract

This research systematically analyzed the effect of leadership (coaches and owners) on organizational performance in the National Football League (NFL) during the 1970 through 1992 seasons. In addition, it examined the relation of stable individual differences in personality of NFL leaders with performance outcomes for both coaches and owners. Results revealed that leadership added substantially to the prediction of performance in the NFL, even after controlling for non-leadership variables such as quality of competition and year. Furthermore, one facet of Conscientiousness – Deliberateness – showed strong linear relations with all performance measures. The results of both studies also revealed that hierarchical level of leadership was an important moderator, with coaches having greater impact than owners. The desirability of studying leadership in the context of the NFL was recognized and suggestions were provided on the direction that research might take.

Abstract

Coaches from both the professional and college ranks are often put forth as archetypal examples of effective leaders – individuals’ whose behaviors, styles, and wisdom provide the ever elusive playbook for how to successfully lead others. While numerous books and articles in the popular press put forth advice from leaders in the sports world, numerous empirical studies of the drivers of successful sports leadership and the factors that contribute to leader success in the context of sports have also been conducted. In this chapter, we first provide a broad review of empirical leadership research conducted within the sports world and examine how research within the sports context provides a suitable and advantageous setting for leadership research in general. Second, we offer a road map of opportunities for future leadership studies within the context of sports. The goal of this chapter is to stimulate and rally more thought-provoking research related to leadership in sports that generates insights for organizational leadership across contexts.

Abstract

Football, or soccer as it is known in the United States, is one area in which managerial positions are hugely volatile with what is often called a ‘merry-go-round’ of managers sacked for poor performance at their club and reemployed by another club. Not only does this practice often not increase performance but it is also very costly. Considering the nature of football, that is, the relatively high impact of chance on the rare events that goals are, and the high correlation between success and the wage bill, the influence of managers on performance is often over-estimated. However, potentially better preparation of future managers might help to increase competitive advantages. In this chapter, we are looking in depth at leadership in the context of football and the lessons we can draw for other contexts.

Abstract

In this chapter, we explore the implications of benign and malicious envy in the workplace and suggest methods by which leaders can manage the situational context to minimize negative responses to envy and promote positive responses. We argue that three aspects of the organizational context are especially influential in the development of envy: perceptions of fairness, employees’ feelings of control over their situation, and organizational culture. All three impact whether felt envy will be benign or malicious. In addition, the right organizational culture can prevent any feelings of malicious envy from leading to undesirable behaviors. We suggest that by fostering justice, promoting employee feelings of control, and exemplifying an ethical organizational culture leaders can manage the manifestation of envy and resulting behaviors in a positive direction.

Part II High-Risk

Abstract

This chapter focused on challenges and tensions that characterize leadership in the military context. It aims to identify and analyze key paradoxes that are reflected in this unique setting, while exploring the challenges, opportunities, and advantages posed by these core paradoxes for leadership. It addresses different types of paradoxes, among them: (a) shared leadership versus hierarchical leadership, (b) flexibility and creativity versus conformity and discipline, (c) complexity and chaos versus simplicity and linearity, (d) hegemonic and prototypical leadership versus leadership of multiple identities, and last (e) distant leadership and exchange relationship versus intimate leadership and communal relationship. For each focal paradox, we uncover the dynamics, processes, management tensions, and possible subsequent outcomes. We suggest that leadership that is able to effectively attend to competing expectations and paradoxical tensions is essential in the current hybrid and complex organizational structure and unique context of the military. The chapter draws on interviews and prior research of leadership in the Israeli military, as well as other global military contexts, to gain a more nuanced understanding of the challenges of modern military leadership.

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Abstract

Despite air travel having become a widely used means of transportation, the technological sophistication and human skill required for flying an aircraft remains a source of fascination and admiration. Aviation has been coined an ultra-safe system, coping with the duality of safety and efficiency by emphasizing expertise and learning, but also standardization and automation. Highly selected and continuously trained pilots have to work with increasingly complex and autonomous technology, which creates tensions between routinization and responsible action. Research on leadership and coordination in aircrews is reviewed in light of these tensions, pointing to the benefits of a functional approach to leadership which promotes optimal use of all resources in the team toward adaptive coordination. Furthermore, the leadership requirements arising from the fact that aircrews are ad hoc teams, usually only formed for a few flights, are discussed in terms of fast team-building coupled with the reliance on shared knowledge stemming from high levels of standardization. Due to the complex demands for leadership in aircrews, special training programs were developed early on, which have become a standard that many other high-risk industries are still striving for. The generalizability and need for further development of concepts embedded in successfully leading aircrews is scrutinized, focusing especially on leadership in ad hoc teams, the interplay of standardization and leadership, and the balance between shared and formal leadership.

Abstract

The chapter tries to highlight the critical importance of values to leadership, and argues that the research design of the ‘social scientific’ mainstream is incommensurable with the language of the scientific discipline that studies values: moral philosophy. The chapter shows that (a) through goals and actions, ethics is a central aspect of leadership and (b) that ethics cannot be reinterpreted as being ‘value-neutral’. Therefore, ‘effective’ leadership must always be connected to a specific value set. After arguing that leadership cannot be meaningfully looked at without reference to virtue ethics, two case studies are used to demonstrate the relationship between the two. By looking at two prominent terrorist leaders, the chapter shows how values are at the heart of their visions and actions. There are at least two practical implications: the study of leadership, and leadership education, must be reconnected with moral philosophy. The chapter connects three hitherto unconnected topics: leadership, (virtue) ethics and terrorism, presenting new insights into especially leadership.

Part III Creativity and Innovation

Abstract

Creativity and innovation are important for fulfilling organizational goals. In understanding ways to enhance creativity research has moved on from understanding individual creativity, to an organizational analysis of successful firms that encourage creativity. However, an additional source of creativity stems from direct and indirect leadership and the decisions leaders make to enhance creativity throughout the organization. This chapter examines creativity in film and television as influenced by leadership activities at the organization, team, and individual level and describes lessons learned.

Abstract

In the present chapter, we present the case study of the only woman film director who has ever won an Academy Award for Best Director, Kathryn Bigelow. We analyzed 43 written interviews of Kathryn Bigelow that have appeared in the popular press in the period 1988–2013 and outlined eight main themes emerging regarding her exercise of leadership in the cinematic context. We utilize three theoretical frameworks: (a) paradoxical leadership theory (Lewis, Andriopoulos, & Smith, 2014; Smith & Lewis, 2012); (b) ambidextrous leadership theory (Rosing, Frese, & Bausch, 2011), and (c) role congruity theory (Eagley & Karau, 2002) and show how Bigelow, as a woman artist/leader working in a complex organizational system that emphasizes radical innovation, exercised paradoxical and ambidextrous leadership and challenged existing conventions about genre, gender, and leadership. The case study implications for teaching and practice are discussed.

Abstract

This chapter examines how the stories can shape the leadership and followership schemas of children. We explore how television programs can shape attitudes toward leaders as well as providing role models for effective or desirable leadership and followership behaviors. In particular, we use personality assessments of characters from the popular children’s television show The Transformers to demonstrate how fictional stories can inform children of what characteristics are associated with leadership. Moreover, we demonstrate how the television program provided examples of both positive and negative styles of leadership and followership as well as providing normative information of what constitutes appropriate interpersonal behavior within organizations. These findings help illustrate the power of storytelling as a tool for leadership development, particularly in children.

Abstract

The team members’ expertise has been shown to increase team effectiveness when it is actively coordinated. While in face-to-face teams such expertise coordination unfolds through direct interaction, expertise coordination in dispersed teams is unlikely to evolve automatically. In this context, shared leadership, that is, the distribution of leadership influence across multiple team members is argued to serve as initiating mechanism for expertise coordination.

Abstract

This chapter summarizes the specific challenges for leadership in academia with a focus on universities, and discusses recent approaches to facilitate the development of leadership abilities in this context. Individuals and groups in academia essentially strive for creativity and innovation through knowledge creation and transfer. Their performance is measured relative to specified targets (e.g., quality and quantity of publications, third-party funding, teaching and student supervision). We argue that in academia constant tensions between creativity and innovation on the one hand, and structures, procedures, and (legal) regulations on the other hand persist. This poses significant challenges to leadership. The chapter starts with a short characterization of the most pressing challenges and their implications for leadership. We then distinguish between leadership of universities (i.e., administrative leadership) and leadership in universities (i.e., research leadership). Next, we depict approaches that highlight leadership as a property of individuals and as a collective phenomenon in academia. Finally, we draw lessons for leaders and organizations who seek to create enabling conditions for sustained successes in the quest for creativity and innovation.

Part IV Care and Community

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to provide preliminary insights into the relationships between self-monitoring, emotional expressivity, emotional labor, felt leader authenticity, and authentic leadership (AL) within a unique context – West Texas Baptist congregations. Using a sample of 40 Baptist pastors, we employed survey research methods and correlational analyses to explore the focal relationships. Our results revealed that self-monitoring is positively correlated with surface acting, yet negatively associated with AL, within our sample of West Texas Baptist pastors. Emotional expressivity is negatively related to surface acting, but not deep acting, and positively related to genuine emotional displays. We also found that surface acting is negatively associated with genuine emotion displays and felt authenticity, while felt authenticity and AL are positively correlated. However, no relationships between self-monitoring, deep acting, felt authenticity, and AL were revealed. Thus, we identified cases where leader authenticity may be threatened within an organizational context with strong emotional display rules, suggesting a boundary condition for AL. Additionally, we advance propositions gleaned from our research regarding the influence of the omnibus (e.g., community religiosity) and discrete context on leader emotional labor and authenticity. We conclude with practical recommendations for leaders seeking to balance authenticity with emotional display rules associated with unique roles and contexts, as well as recommendations for scholars seeking to conduct research in such settings. We also provide candid insights regarding the challenges we encountered in researching leader authenticity within a highly religious context.

Abstract

Modern organizations are going through continuous changes and have to deal with high uncertainty due to the still growing worldwide competition and a quickly changing economic climate. This may have serious social implication for the wellbeing of the employees involved, which potentially leads to economic losses due to reduced productivity. The premise of this chapter is that servant leadership may make a significant difference in the successful rolling out of organizational change. Leaders play an essential role in shaping meaningful working conditions. This process of sense giving is even more important in times of change. The core reasoning is that servant leaders enhance a sense of meaningfulness through a combination of personal attention and by their ability to relate change to a larger picture that goes beyond the organization. Our model shows how servant leadership can be effective by working through four pathways (self-connection, unification, contribution, and individuation) in order to encourage a greater sense of meaningfulness among employees.

Abstract

This chapter explores distributed leadership in volunteer multistakeholder groups tackling complex problems, focusing on community organizing practices to bridge the gap between health and health care in Columbia, South Carolina. Columbia faces increasing chronic disease, high rates of uninsured, unequal access to healthcare services, and rising costs. Regional leaders periodically tackled these problems together but faced challenges common to multistakeholder groups. In 2010, leaders from Columbia partnered with the authors in a learning enterprise to find new, more sustainable ways to address these challenges. Together we adapted a community organizing approach to develop distributed leadership skills necessary to overcome the challenges of volunteer multistakeholder groups and transform the health system in a local area. In the first year, teams provided health screenings to over 1,000 residents; over 3,000 residents exercised leadership to improve community health; over 5,000 residents pledged to improve their health. Clinic hours were extended; new health coaches focused on primary care and wellness programs. Providers and payers committed to reinvesting a share of savings in the community, which has a voice in their use. We show that developing distributed leadership via community organizing offers an approach to solving seemingly intractable community problems.

Part V Conclusion

Abstract

In this final chapter, we summarize the core challenges to leadership in complex organizational systems as well as the lessons that we believe leaders can learn from the contributions presented in this book. Building on Complexity Leadership Theory (Uhl-Bien & Marion, 2009), we argue that high levels of complexity characterize the contexts described, and that they are unusual because they deviate from the setting of standard business organizations. Since these contexts are not often discussed in the general leadership literature, there seems to be a largely unused potential in terms of leadership learning. Specifically, in order to better contextualize leadership, scholars and practitioners need to take organizational complexity into account. With reference to the underlying structure of the book, core challenges to leadership are proposed, clustering around four main foci: sports and competition, high risk, creativity and innovation, care and community. Subsequently, we derive six lessons for leadership: adaptability, perseverance, handling paradox, leading with values, inventing the future, and sharing responsibility. We thereby hope to stimulate fruitful discussions that put leadership into context and capitalize on complexity theory as an innovative approach to leadership research and practice.

About the Authors

Pages 481-491
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Cover of Leadership Lessons from Compelling Contexts
DOI
10.1108/S1479-357120168
Publication date
2016-03-03
Book series
Monographs in Leadership and Management
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78560-942-8
eISBN
978-1-78560-941-1
Book series ISSN
1479-3571