Kristin Cullen-Lester of CCL, along with Francis Yammarino of Binghamton University, served as guest editors for a recent, special issue of The Leadership Quarterly, the top academic journal specializing in leadership research.
This special issue brings together a confluence of ideas and perspectives on collective and network approaches to leadership.
These approaches define leadership as a social process involving not only formal leaders, but also followers and the interactions connecting members of groups, teams, departments, and entire organizations.
These leadership-producing relationships constitute a network that emerges and shifts over time.
Several of the contributors to this special attended the thought forum on Network Leadership and Leadership Networks that CCL hosted, in conjunction with the University of Cincinnati, in June 2014.
This forum represents one of many ways CCL is advancing the understanding of the intersection between networks and leadership and provision of network-based leadership science and solutions.
Building on insights from this forum, this special issue was curated to advance empirical research on collective and network approaches to leadership which represent a major shift in how people think about leadership.
The nine empirical studies in the issue introduce new ideas concerning the leadership underlying collectives, networks, and systems. They illustrate that leaders cannot and do not operate as isolated agents driving the organization’s work through formal authority.
Rather, in today’s interconnected world, leaders must foster social connections and distribute leadership responsibilities throughout the organization.
Cullen-Lester is a contributor of one such paper, which found that, after controlling for formal leadership roles, individuals who more strongly identify with the organization are likely to be a source of leadership for others and also are more likely to look to others for leadership.
This research suggests that developing strong identification with the organization may lead to more individuals participating in informal leadership relationships.
Additionally, Cullen-Lester and Yammarino discuss the importance of continuing to integrate different theoretical perspectives and disciplines to examine the relevancy of networks in leadership studies. This research holds promise for providing important guidance to organizations who are relying less on hierarchies and heroic leaders.
About Kristin Cullen-Lester
Kristin Cullen-Lester is a senior research scientist, leading CCL’s R&D efforts in the area of networks and leadership. Her research examines the characteristics of leaders’ professional networks and the role of networks in shared leadership, complex collaboration, and change implementation.
She was awarded an Alfred J. Marrow New Directions in Leadership research grant to examine the impact of agile work practices on the development of team networks.
Insights from this body of work are being applied to address the challenges organizations face through leadership and organizational development initiatives.
Cullen-Lester serves on the editorial boards of The Leadership Quarterly, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and the Journal of Business and Psychology. She earned her MS and PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Auburn University.