About this Research Topic
The scientific study of leadership has long attempted to explain who becomes a leader in social settings or leader emergence. From the trait approach to behavioral genetics, researchers have used leadership emergence or leadership role occupancy as a criterion for their predictor variables. By the 1980s, leadership researchers emphasized the need to distinguish leader emergence from leader effectiveness as different criterion variables. Leader emergence studied in leaderless groups experiments comprised largely unacquainted of individuals in informal group settings; while correlational studies of leader emergence focus on predicting leadership role occupancy. Despite this long scientific tradition attempting to understand leadership emergence via different research strategies, a gap remains in our understanding of the practice of leader and leadership emergence in real world social settings.
In the real world, leadership is a contested domain of power, privilege, authority as well as responsibility, and accountability. However, there appears to be little overlap between repertoires of leadership emergence and leadership competence; While leadership emergence largely depends on factors such as good political skills, motivation, charisma, low agreeableness, effective leadership requires competence, team building and communication, humility, and strong interpersonal skills. The multiplicity of competing ways and means by which leaders emerge and how leadership emergence diverges from requirements of leader effectiveness and effective leadership in organizations has been at the heart of anxieties associated with leadership emergence. Leadership emergence remains problematic and fractured as leaders come through vast number of overlapping routes such scientific education, proven competence, inheritance, entrepreneurship, network ties, democratic election and even political coercion.
In this Research Topic, we aim to examine the tensions, tribulations, fractures, and challenges experienced in leadership emergence. In line with the practice turn in organisation and management scholarship, we invite papers that explore the challenges in practices of leadership emergence. Practice turn in leadership emergence means that we would like to see papers which explore how leadership emerges in practice. What are the uncharted, under-explored and/or counterintuitive routeways to leadership for individuals? What are the team, institutional, organisational and national mechanisms that support atypical or less studied forms of leadership emergence? Do we appoint the right people for leadership positions? Is there a crisis in leadership emergence?
In this Research Topic we welcome article submissions addressing the following questions:
- How do we end up selecting wrong leaders (e.g., dysfunctional, toxic, abusive)?
- Why is there a disconnect between leadership ‘emergence’ and ‘effectiveness’ literature?
- Why does the leadership emergence literature mainly focus on the perceptions of those who nominate individuals as leaders, rather than (or in addition to) on individuals’ self-nominations for leadership positions?
- What are the different behavioural or socio-relational paths or trajectories beyond initial leader emergence? And, to what extent do different paths result in effective vs. ineffective or even unethical leadership?
- What situational/contextual factors (e.g., authority and power; managerialism; lack of an ethical climate) shape the different paths beyond initial leadership role occupancy?
- How do leaders’ motivations (e.g., agentic versus communal motivation to lead; socialized versus personalized motives) result in different leadership agendas and outcomes?
- Despite rapid demographic change and educational reforms that foster diversity to new cadres of leadership across the world why is there still reproduction of the old leadership elite and underrepresentation of atypical leadership based on competence or over emergence of some groups such as white men in leadership?
- What are the generational differences in leadership emergence?
- What are the ways to overcome problems of over- and under-emergence? e.g., proposed intervention programs.
- How do atypical forms of leadership emergence, e.g. shared, distributive, collective, or democratic leadership?
Photo credit: Nancy Adler
Keywords: Leadership emergence, leadership, leadership competence, leadership effectiveness
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.