Leadership has long been a primary area of research in organization studies. More recently teams and teamwork have also gained the attention of researchers. Both leadership and team phenomenon are examined from multiple theoretical perspectives, however there has been limited integration or cross development of the literature streams. We maintain that team research can benefit by including ideas from the leadership literature. To facilitate this integration we utilize a leadership framework that segments the leadership research by level of analysis (macro and micro) and by type of control used (controlling and inspiring). Various leadership theories can be placed within this framework. Using the same two dimensions as the leadership framework, four team research orientations, (team-utilizing, team-based, standard team, unique team) can be identified. We suggest that team researchers should consider their research orientation and use our framework to identify leadership theories that have the potential to inform and develop their research. The paper concludes with a summary and discussion of implications for both researchers and practitioners.
Leadership and team phenomenon are important and relevant topics in organizational studies. These two distinct areas of research have streams that address many of the same constructs and processes while dealing with productivity, communications, motivation, and other organizational issues. With such commonalities, researchers in each area can benefit from each other. Specifically we propose that our understanding of team phenomenon can be enhanced by incorporating many key concepts from the leadership literature.
We propose a leadership framework that segments the leadership research by level of analysis and by type of control used. Four distinct orientations toward teamwork research are proposed, also using the two dimensions of level of analysis and type of control. We propose that the leadership theories associated with each level of analysis and type of control can be used to provide much needed insight to those studying teamwork in contemporary organizations.
Furthermore, it provides a guide for practitioners as to which leadership perspectives can provide insight and guidance, taking into consideration their organization's use of teams and attitudes towards teamwork.
This paper starts with a brief description of leadership and then proceeds to discuss the importance of levels of analysis and types of control. A leadership framework is then presented followed by a discussion of teamwork research providing a linkage to the way in which various leadership theories can augment study in this area. The paper concludes with a summary and discussion of implications for both researchers and practitioners.
Leadership is complex. Nearly 50 years ago Warren Bennis (1959:259) wrote that "probably more has been written and less known about leadership than any other topic in the behavioral sciences." Since that time, thousands of empirical studies have been conducted in an attempt to clarify our knowledge of leadership. To our dismay, many of the leadership studies have found unclear, inconsistent, and even contradictory results (Bass & Stogdill, 1990). Disparities among these results are in part due to the assorted ways studies have been constructed and because much of the research is targeted to address only a very limited aspect of the entire phenomenon (Yukl, 1989). Much more clarity and an overall integration are needed (Yukl, 1989).
Leadership and Levels of Analysis
Among the ways leadership research can be divided is along levels of analysis. Specifically, leadership is usually studied at only one level of analysis. Due to its complexity, some theorists have focused at the individual level (Lord, DeVader & Alliger, 1986) where others look at dyadic and group interactions (Dansereau, Graen & Haga, 1975; Hollander & Julian, 1970), while other researchers have emphasized the organizational and/or societal level (Chen & Meindl, 1991; Biggart & Hamilton, 1987; Selznick, 1957). To help understand the relationships between these fragmented research streams, we suggest that leadership theories should be clustered into two main groups--micro level and macro level. Micro level theories are targeted toward individual, dyadic and small group phenomenon. Macro level theories are targeted toward organizational and societal level phenomenon.
Leadership and Control
Ever since Zaleznik (1977) asked if leaders and managers were different, researchers have been wrestling with various aspects of leadership versus management (Black & Westwood, 2004; DeMent, 1996). Some use these two terms interchangeably (Yukl, 1989) while others stress a difference between leaders and managers (e.g., Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Peters & Austin, 1985; Zaleznik, 1977). We agree with the distinction since we argue that these the two terms describe very different phenomenon. For example, consider that a person can be a leader without having the formal position of manager or, a person can have the formal position of manager and not really perform as a leader. To further exemplify this point, Zaleznik (1977) suggests that leaders are individuals who take fresh approaches, are not intimidated by high risk situations, and have a keen sense of who they are. Managers on the other hand, are mostly concerned with how things get done. Bennis & Nanus (1985:21) add that "managers are people that do things right while leaders are people who do the right thing."
Following this discriminating perspective, management is more rooted in the administrative theorist's notion of command and control (Fayol, 1949). A manager is most concerned with enforcing rules, having subordinates conform to existing policies, and exchanging rewards for the accomplishment of subordinates' tasks (Calanan, 2004; Brodbeck, 2002; Bass 1985). Leadership, on the other hand, is about meaningful interpersonal exchanges strengthened by subordinates who are willing to accept and actually cherish influence from their leaders in hopes of raising each other to greater levels of performance (Conger & Kanungo, 1987). This notion reflects the importance of leadership as being a process of influence between leader and follower (Hollander & Julian, 1970). Therefore, leadership is more inspirational. Leaders motivate, encourage and are instrumental in helping subordinates attain higher levels of accomplishment through inspired, intellectual stimulation geared to the individual's specific needs (Burns, 1978).
In our view, inspirational leadership refers to the process of influencing major changes in the attitudes of the organization's members and in building commitment for the organization's mission and objectives (Dionne, Yammarino, Atwater & Spangler, 2004; Yukl, 1989; Yukl & Van Fleet, 1982). This notion is consistent with what is referred to as transformational leadership. Berlew (1974) calls transformational leadership organizational excitement while House (1977) …