Research into leadership emergence typically focuses on the attributes of the emergent leader. By considering also the attributes of perceivers and the passage of time, we develop a more complete theory of leadership emergence in short-lived groups. Using expectation states theory as an overarching theoretical framework, and integrating it with the surface- and deep-level diversity literature and with theories of self-serving biases, we examine the predictors of leadership emergence in short timeframes. We conduct a field study in a military assessment boot camp (a pilot study, n = 60; and a main study, n = 89). We use cross-sectional and longitudinal exponential random graph models to analyze data on participants' abilities and on their perceptions of who, in their respective groups, were "leaders." We find that the criteria by which people perceive leadership in others change over time, from easily noticeable attributes to covert leadership-relevant attributes, and that people also rely on leadership-relevant attributes that they possess at high levels to inform their perceptions of leadership in others. The integration of expectation states theory, attribute salience over time and theories of self-serving bias is needed for a full understanding of leadership emergence in groups, because perceivers' own abilities are instrumental in shaping their perceptions of emergent leadership over time. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.
- Emergent leadership
- Expectation states theory
- Exponential random graph models
- Leadership perception networks
- Self-serving bias
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Psychology