DOI: 10.1002/job.2774 ISSN: 0894-3796

An examination of shared leadership configurations and their effectiveness in teams

Melissa Chamberlin, Jennifer D. Nahrgang, Hudson Sessions, Bart de Jong
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • General Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Applied Psychology


A key challenge in the shared leadership literature has been a limited understanding of how multiple leadership activities are shared across team members and roles. We address this issue by conceptualizing and operationalizing shared leadership using both its content (i.e., what leadership roles are shared) and distribution (i.e., how leadership is shared across members and roles). In an exploratory study comprised of 129 work teams, we use latent profile analysis (LPA) to identify multiple shared leadership configurations that vary in the extent of sharing. Our second study of 103 MBA teams supports these findings and further (a) considers what shared leadership configurations have the greatest influence on team effectiveness, (b) examines the mediating role of teamwork processes, and (c) investigates the moderating role of temporal dispersion. We advance current research by demonstrating that shared leadership typically manifests in collective (i.e., members share all leadership roles) and distributed configurations (i.e., members hold one leadership role while other members hold other leadership roles), which has implications for team processes and effectiveness. Specifically, we show that collective configurations have higher team effectiveness (compared to distributed configurations) owing to improved teamwork processes and observe that these effects are more pronounced when temporal dispersion is high.

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