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Leadership Emergence in Autonomous Work Teams: Antecedents and Outcomes

by Simon Taggar, Rick Hackett, Sudhir Saha
Personnel Psychology ()


The aim of this study was to investigate (a) personality attributes and cognitive ability (g) as determinants of leadership emergence in teams, and (b) the impact of leadership that can emerge from the team leader (operationalized as the team member with the highest leadership score) and other team members (staff) on team performance. Autonomous work team members who had been working together for 13 weeks were studied. Participants were 480 undergraduates in 94 initially leaderless teams of 5 or 6. We found that leadership emergence was associated most strongly with g, followed by conscientiousness, extraversion, and emotional stability. Teams performed best when both the team leader and staff were high in leadership. Furthermore, an effective team leader does not ameliorate the negative affects of a staff low in leadership.

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