Leadership Development On The Go: A Multi-Perspective Two-Cohort Case Study To Explore Collective Leadership Development

Ger, Yucel 2023. Leadership Development On The Go: A Multi-Perspective Two-Cohort Case Study To Explore Collective Leadership Development. PhD thesis University of Westminster Organisations, Economy and Society https://doi.org/10.34737/w1vq8

TitleLeadership Development On The Go: A Multi-Perspective Two-Cohort Case Study To Explore Collective Leadership Development
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsGer, Yucel

There is a lack of studies focusing on how self-managed team experience across multiple tasks influence collective leadership capacities in an organisation. Responding to the long-standing calls to study collective leadership development (Raelin, 2006, 2018a; Day, 2011b; Yammarino et al., 2012; Day et al., 2014; Day and Liu, 2018; Eva et al., 2019) and to integrate shared leadership to the conceptualisation of leadership development (Klein and Ziegert, 2004; Klein et al., 2006; Bergman et al., 2012; Day and Liu, 2018; Raelin, 2018a), this thesis explores the potential of self-managed project team experience for enhancing leadership development as a collective capacity. The focus is shared leadership practices in self-managed project teams and the role of these practices for leadership learning and development across various tasks and time. The topic is relevant because collective leadership development has been understudied due to the predominant individualised focus in the existing leadership development studies (DeRue and Myers, 2014). Self-managed project teams engage in shared leadership to reach their objectives autonomously, and this engagement further enhances leadership capacities at multiple levels (Friedrich et al., 2009; Raelin, 2016b, 2018a).

Due to the lack of prior studies, an overall understanding of the collective leadership development process and the outcomes was seen as an essential first step in contributing to the relevant literature. Thus, the study has a holistic approach and derives upon multiple theoretical perspectives (Eva et al., 2019). The study conceptualises collective leadership development through the lens of shared leadership. It draws on the concepts of complexity leadership, social network and social learning to explore the development process and outcomes holistically (Clarke, 2013; Eva et al., 2019). Therefore, the focus was on both dimensions of the leadership capacity development process: the acquisition of KSAs and the ability to engage in shared leadership behaviours. This kind of holistic approach requires multiple data sources and collection methods.

The research was conducted as a case study with two cohorts embedded in a single organisational unit. The study has mainly utilised naturally occurring data from the practices in the unit across a series of (three) projects within eighteen (18) months to explore the phenomenon. Three primary data sources were post-project reviews (PPRs), participant surveys, and direct observation, with the first two being the main sources. Qualitative data concerning sense-making and learning were collected through document analysis of post-project review sessions, project documentations, open comments in the survey questionnaires, and observations. The behavioural data was collected through survey questionnaires where team members have rated each other’s shared leadership performances. The analysis is based on thematic analysis, time series analysis and constant comparison.

The comparison of all data across time, methods and cohorts shows that self-managed team practice offers excellent opportunities for organisations to enhance collective (shared) leadership capacity. However, the impact of the experiences is more significant on creating awareness and acquiring knowledge, skills and attitudes (specifically social awareness and interpersonal skills) than on shared leadership behaviours. Analysis of the qualitative data identified seven broad themes: (1) openness to diversity and working with others, (2) communication and coordination, (3) self-awareness and confidence, (4) problem solving and decision making, (5) situational awareness and adaptability, (6) awareness and acceptance of different leadership styles, and (7) motivating others the learning outcomes resulting as collective capacity. Time series analysis of the shared leadership ratings shows a declining pattern. Integration of both types of analysis identified four challenging areas that need attention and additional coaching support for more effective development and performance. These areas were planning and scheduling, monitoring, providing critical feedback and team building

The focus on the construction of meaning, learning and performance outcomes across multiple tasks and extended time is relevant for collective leadership development in multiple ways and thus, enriches the leadership development literature. First, the study contributes to the emerging collective leadership development literature by exploring the learning outcomes and performance outcomes across varying contexts in three projects rather than exploring them within the lifecycle of a single task in isolation from the contextual factors. Second, the multi-perspective conceptual model contributes to the much-demanded theorisation of collective leadership development. The study also contributes to practice by providing an overall picture of the capacity development process in self-managed project teams and identifying the bottlenecks in using self-managed teams for shared leadership development.

File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication dates
Published17 Feb 2023
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.34737/w1vq8

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