Leadership Transitions in Teams



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Recent studies have shown that teams can benefit from informal rotated leadership structures in which leadership responsibilities are rapidly shifted from one individual to another (Aime et al., 2014). Teams can quickly adapt to changes in dynamic environments by engaging in functional leadership transitions where leadership responsibilities are transferred to the focal member whose expertise and resources are most critical for the team’s situation. The current dissertation utilizes social categorization and leader identity formation theories (DeRue & Ashford, 2010; Lord et al., 1987) to explain the process of how teams transition leadership. The interactions between two team mental models of leadership (i.e., heterarchical leader prototypes and transactive memory of leadership capacities), and two team member traits (i.e., motivation to lead and psychological collectivism), are examined as potential antecedents to functional leadership transitions in an experiment using a computer-based team decision making task. A between-teams experimental design was used to manipulate the two team mental models through two trainings. Results show a significant two-way interaction between mental models and a significant, but negative, three-way interaction between the two team mental models and psychological collectivism. Finally, while functional leadership transitions across time do not correlate with performance, post hoc analyses indicate that functional leadership transitions may be important for maximizing performance at the final stages of a team performance episode.