Business Review - “Follow the Leader”

Apr 22, 2021

Stephanie Lee shares how leadership within groups is ever-changing and what factors are involved in emerging as a leader.

“A large assumption behind leadership is that it's static and unchanging. Once you're in a position of leadership, people seem to assume and believe that you'll always be a leader.”

STEPHANIE LEE, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MANAGEMENT, RECENTLY PUBLISHED A STUDY IN THE JOURNAL OF APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY THAT ANALYZED HOW LEADERS EMERGE IN

GROUP SETTINGS. SHE AND COLLEAGUE CRYSTAL FARH, CONDUCTED RESEARCH TO SEE WHAT BEHAVIORS INFLUENCE WHO BECOMES THE GROUP LEADER. 

“We have demonstrated through these two studies that leadership is dynamic. It is changing. It is not something that is static. And if you align your behaviors to address the needs of the team in a specific given period of time, you may emerge as a leader because you're seen as someone who can meet those needs and influence the team in the direction it needs to go.”

THE ASSUMPTION IS THAT IF A PERSON EMERGES AS A LEADER FOR ONE TASK OR ROLE IT AUTOMATICALLY QUALIFIES THAT PERSON AS THE LEADER FOR ALL TASKS. LEE FOUND THAT BECAUSE TEAM NEEDS ARE EVOLVING, OTHER LEADERS MAY EMERGE AS NEEDS CHANGE. 

“If you challenge that assumption, you're more likely to see the right people emerge as leaders to be effective, which then propels the team to be effective as a whole.  For people in the business world this should be encouraging, because what it means is that there are specific types of behaviors you can engage in to gain influence among your peers if you are meeting the team’s needs at that moment when no one else is meeting those needs you are more likely to be influential than others on your team.” 

THE BUSINESS REVIEW IS A PRODUCTION OF LIVINGSTON & MCKAY AND THE HANKAMER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY.