Research Interests

  • Team Leadership (leading self-managed teams; encouraging shared leadership in teams)

  • Positive Leadership (leader humility and inclusive leadership)

  • Leaders' Wellbeing (leadership energy)

A short video about leader humility

A short video about shared leadership

Journal Articles

ABDC = Australian Business Dean Council journal quality list; A* = top 7% journals; FT 50 = Financial Times Top 50 Management Journals; IF = impact factor 

 

I study shared leadership as my PhD topic, and we practice shared leadership at the CWeX. However, I am reluctant to claim that shared leadership is "the solution" for every team because it requires proper soil to flourish. Although shared leadership is shown to boost team performance, it might create an arena for individuals to fight against each other for claiming personal power. How could teams avoid this potential problem? My colleagues and I have an answer here.

 

Existing business education and training encourage employees to be “extra milers” and take informal leadership at work. As a result, companies prioritize hustle cultures such as “Rise and Grind” (e.g., Nike) and demand that their young employees become more committed to making extra contributions. However, if these informal leaders are “good eggs” in organizations—those who want to contribute more and help others—they need to be protected from being exhausted. My colleagues and I have adopted a mixed-method approach and designed a series of studies to explore why and when these informal team leaders feel dissatisfied at work. Our data showed that informal leaders feel dissatisfied because of their experienced low energetic activation level. Their negative feelings are exacerbated especially when formal team leaders' support is absent or low.

 

We encourage employees and business school students to believe in the advantages of shared leadership. However, what benefits the teams might not always benefit the individuals. In this study, we report that people holding the belief about the benefits of shared leadership (i.e., shared leadership structure schema; SLSS) could suffer from a lowered work enjoyment and performance. Especially when their peers are not engaged in team projects, the negative impacts of SLSS on individuals' work engagement and performance will be amplified because these people take too many responsibilities at work. Our research results caution that organisations and business schools will need to have a balanced view of promoting informal or shared leadership at work. 

 

How do transformational leaders actually "transform" their teams? In this study, we argue that transformational leadership not merely promotes the "magnitude" of team learning orientation but also helps to converge individuals' learning perceptions (i.e., the"strength"). Based on the results of two empirical studies we conclude that: 

(1) Transformational leadership is shown to be associated with high levels of team learning orientation magnitude and strength.
(2) To converge team learning orientation, transformational leaders need to encourage information exchange, collaboration, and joint decision-making among team members.
(3) The influence of transformational leadership can be amplified when the team is homogenous on members’ personality. Providing leaders with knowledge of the "deep-level" composition of team members could help them better foster team behavioural and learning dynamics.

Making friends with your colleagues might be important, but not hating your teammates could be more vital for the team's success. How could a team leader simultaneously encourage positive relationships (e.g., friendship) and prevent negative ties (e.g., hindrance ties), and eventually improve team effectiveness? Rely on two complementary studies, my colleagues find leader humility functions like "social oil" to harmonize intragroup relationships. Although humble leaders could help promote friendships and mitigate destructive relationships, our result suggests that diminishing negative ties is more important than increasing positive ties in encouraging team members to help each other and perform better. We hope this research can bring useful insights for managing professional teams and developing team leadership.

Maintaining workplace diversity is an important legal and ethical issue in modern organizations. However, demographic heterogeneity might discourage shared leadership development in work teams as individuals are inherently not inclined to share leadership roles with dissimilar others. The present study is designed to investigate how political skill assists team members to overcome interpersonal dissimilarities and become engaged in mutual influence with their peers. By studying 63 student project teams using multi-wave, multi-source surveys, we find that team demographic faultlines on gender and race are negatively associated with shared leadership magnitude and discourage team task performance. However, such destructive direct (on shared leadership magnitude) and indirect (on team performance) effects of team demographic faultlines can be mitigated when the team is staffed with many politically skilled members. Our findings bring important implications for organizations in building and encouraging shared leadership, especially in newly formed professional work teams.

 

Although the effectiveness of leader humility has been well documented, our understanding of how leader humility influences followers psychologically is limited. Surpassing a mere leader‐centric understanding of the leader influence process by more fully understanding how leadership behavior shapes followers psychologically has been identified as a critical need by leadership scholars. Drawing on self‐expansion theory, we argue that leader humility triggers followers’ self‐expansion and that this psychological change enhances followers’ self‐efficacy, which in turn contributes to followers’ task performance. We also argue that the relationship between leader humility and followers’ self‐expansion is strengthened when leaders and followers are similar in age and gender. Using a time‐lagged research design with responses from 256 leader‐follower dyads, we found support for our proposed model. We discuss the theoretical implications for our findings and suggest areas for future research.

 

We explore how formal managers’ centralities in both positive and negative networks predict followers’ perceptions of their leadership. By incorporating social networks and social ledger theory with implicit leadership theories (ILTs), we hypothesize that formally assigned group leaders (managers) who have more positive advice ties and fewer negative avoidance ties are more likely to be recognized as leaders by their followers. Further, we posit that managers’ informal networks bring them greater social power, an important attribute differentiating leaders
from non-leaders. We find that managers who are central in the advice network are socially powerful and are seen as leaders by individual followers. In contrast, managers who are avoided by followers lack informal social power are not seen as leaders. We conclude by discussing the theoretical and practical implications of our findings and the ways in which our theory and results extend ILTs and social network theory.

 

The present study was designed to produce novel theoretical insight regarding how leader humility and team member characteristics foster the conditions that promote shared leadership and when shared leadership relates to team effectiveness. Drawing on social information processing theory and adaptive leadership theory, we propose that leader humility facilitates shared leadership by promoting leadership-claiming and leadership-granting interactions among team members. We also apply dominance complementary theory to propose that team proactive personality strengthens the impact of leader humility on shared leadership. Finally, we predict that shared leadership will be most strongly related to team performance when team members have high levels of task-related competence. 

 

This study explores the relationship between the sub-dimensions of political skill and transformational leadership, arguing that in a Chinese sample, social astuteness, networking ability, and interpersonal influence will have a stronger impact than apparent sincerity. Additionally, transformational leadership is argued to mediate the relationship between leader political skill and subordinate job performance.

 

Numerous traditional theories and paradigms of leadership purport to describe what leadership is. It is difficult to reconcile these traditional approaches, however, if each one alone, independent of the others, is viewed as capturing the actual identity of leadership. In this article, we take an integrative view of traditional approaches to leadership. To do so, we first identify some underlying ideas common to them. Next, we explain how these underlying ideas lead us to a fundamental theory about close relationships—that is, self-expansion theory, which refers to a psychological process in which an individual incorporates another into the self (Aron & Aron, 1986). We then review the traditional leadership theories to explore whether these theories may be linked through self-expansion theory and whether self-expansion may help to explain why boundary conditions have been discovered for all of them. In this process, we explore whether traditional approaches to leadership might also be linked with more contemporary approaches through self-expansion theory. Finally, we discuss the implications for future research and professional practice of the integration of traditional approaches to leadership.