Antecedents to shared leadership in virtual teams
Virtual teams have become very common within the workplace, with hybrid models of working from home and the office likely to persist for the foreseeable future. Leading virtual teams can be challenging due to low levels of cohesion and cooperative behaviour as teams must rely on electronic communication to work together to achieve the team’s goals. Shared leadership has been identified as a critical antecedent in virtual teams as a way of mitigating some of these challenges, however knowledge about how shared leadership emerges is limited, especially in those workplace teams with a formal designated leader. This prompts the research question on whether there are specific leader and team member factors that will play a role in the development of shared leadership within virtual workplace teams.
This thesis therefore examines the antecedents and consequences of shared leadership in virtual workplace teams. Specifically, this research examines the association between vertical leader behaviours, leader personality and team personality compositions with shared leadership and three important workplace outcomes: team performance, affective commitment to the team and team resilience. In order to explore these topics of interest in depth, this divided into two sections. Section one is exploratory in an effort to provide evidence for a suite of predictors for shared leadership and subsequent to this, section two covers the papers for publication and will cover narrower models for the purpose of publication. In section one, a field study was conducted utilising a quantitative approach with a sample size of 251 respondents who were part of 40 workplace teams from various workplace industries based in the United Kingdom. In addition to the field work, in order to increase the rigor and make more sophisticated predictions, experimental models of the predicted models used for the purpose of publication were conducted. The results highlight that three vertical leader behaviours, transformational, participative and directive vertical leadership are important antecedents for the development of shared leadership as well as leader personality dispositions of extraversion and agreeableness. Furthermore, team personality compositions comprised of high levels of agreeableness and openness to experience and variable levels of neuroticism were also found to exhibit a positive association with shared leadership. However, neurotic leader personalities and team personality compositions of elevated neuroticism and variable agreeableness were found to exhibit a negative association with shared leadership. Leader extraversion and agreeableness were also found to have a significant indirect effect on affective commitment to the team through shared leadership, again highlighting the importance of these personality styles. The findings also support shared leadership as an important process within virtual teams with positive associations with team performance, affective commitment to the team and team resilience.
Overall this research contributes to the field of organizational behavior by increasing our understanding of virtual teams and the team processes that are unique to them. The results from the study provides organisations with insights into leadership and team member factors that are important for the development of shared leadership and subsequent important team outcomes in virtual teams. This will enable organisations to enhance motivational states such as affective commitment and improve resilience through specific leadership training and better selection of leaders to manage these types of teams. In addition, organisations will also be able to understand what team personality compositions are beneficial when considering the individuals to partake in these types of teams to ensure these teams are able to cope better with any adversity.