Today's organizations are forced to establish sustainable competitive advantages in order to outpace the global market. Successful innovations have been broadly considered a vital basis for the generation of competitive advantage (Dodgson et al., 2005). Such innovations are typically generated by teams (Brown & Eisenhardt, 1995). Leading an innovation team has been identified as one of the key success factors for innovation projects (Amabile & Khaire, 2008). Leadership does not only impact on hard performance indicators such as project innovativeness but is also shown to enhance a team's attitude, perceptions and beliefs (Gordon & Yukl, 2002). Particularly, effective team leaders are those engaging in activities directed at the substance of the team's task, relations and change (Yukl, 2010) which, in turn, facilitate group processes and are shown to positively impact diverse performance outcomes (Burke et al., 2006). As leadership is directed at influencing team processes in terms of building up social conditions, framing the team's tasks and opening team members' minds for something new (Yukl, 2010), it is interesting to study a team process which is based on the conditions created by leadership activities. Team learning, here defined as the interplay of reflection and action (Edmondson, 2002), is a process which requires personal interactions as well as a frame of the team's task. Additionally, team learning is much enhanced when someone in the team is pushing the team to look outside its boundaries or challenging the status quo. Not only the required conditions for learning generated through leadership highlight the reason for studying these two concepts, but also the fact that leadership as an input factor and team learning as a group process are both critical antecedent conditions for team innovativeness (Amabile et al., 2004; Wong, 2004). Since team learning is especially important for teams engaging in creative non-routine tasks (Edmondson, 1999), I have focused on shared leadership in this PhD project because this leadership approach is especially suitable for teams in charge of creative, complex and non-routine tasks (Pearce, 2004). In contrast to vertical leadership, in shared leadership the team including the project leader is engaged in leadership (Carson et al., 2007; Pearce, 2004). This PhD project is a first step towards building up this theory by focusing on the role of shared leadership in team learning. I have presented data from an observatory study on shared leadership and learning process in three project teams. By observing and interviewing those teams, the following findings emerged from the data: Firstly, by researching interrelations between each of the three leadership substances and team learning, I provide in-depth knowledge, in particular concerning the link between the task and change substance affecting reflection and action as these links have not studied been before (Edmondson et al., 2008): Relations and change substance primarily supported the reflection part of learning, whereas the task substance of leadership basically enhanced the action part of learning. Secondly, not only have I studied these three leadership categories on team learning individually, but I have also provided insights into the complementary character of these three leadership substances as regards team learning. Empirical findings have shown that in order to engage in successful learning cycles of reflection and action, a team needs to engage in leadership activities of task, relations and change.

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Hildebrand, Dagmar

Shared leadership and team learning: The story of three project teams

10/2011
itemDefault Today's organizations are forced to establish sustainable competitive advantages in order to outpace the global market. Successful innovations have been broadly considered a vital basis for the generation of competitive advantage (Dodgson et al., 2005). Such innovations are typically generated by teams (Brown & Eisenhardt, 1995). Leading an innovation team has been identified as one of the key success factors for innovation projects (Amabile & Khaire, 2008). Leadership does not only impact on hard performance indicators such as project innovativeness but is also shown to enhance a team's attitude, perceptions and beliefs (Gordon & Yukl, 2002). Particularly, effective team leaders are those engaging in activities directed at the substance of the team's task, relations and change (Yukl, 2010) which, in turn, facilitate group processes and are shown to positively impact diverse performance outcomes (Burke et al., 2006). As leadership is directed at influencing team processes in terms of building up social conditions, framing the team's tasks and opening team members' minds for something new (Yukl, 2010), it is interesting to study a team process which is based on the conditions created by leadership activities. Team learning, here defined as the interplay of reflection and action (Edmondson, 2002), is a process which requires personal interactions as well as a frame of the team's task. Additionally, team learning is much enhanced when someone in the team is pushing the team to look outside its boundaries or challenging the status quo. Not only the required conditions for learning generated through leadership highlight the reason for studying these two concepts, but also the fact that leadership as an input factor and team learning as a group process are both critical antecedent conditions for team innovativeness (Amabile et al., 2004; Wong, 2004). Since team learning is especially important for teams engaging in creative non-routine tasks (Edmondson, 1999), I have focused on shared leadership in this PhD project because this leadership approach is especially suitable for teams in charge of creative, complex and non-routine tasks (Pearce, 2004). In contrast to vertical leadership, in shared leadership the team including the project leader is engaged in leadership (Carson et al., 2007; Pearce, 2004). This PhD project is a first step towards building up this theory by focusing on the role of shared leadership in team learning. I have presented data from an observatory study on shared leadership and learning process in three project teams. By observing and interviewing those teams, the following findings emerged from the data: Firstly, by researching interrelations between each of the three leadership substances and team learning, I provide in-depth knowledge, in particular concerning the link between the task and change substance affecting reflection and action as these links have not studied been before (Edmondson et al., 2008): Relations and change substance primarily supported the reflection part of learning, whereas the task substance of leadership basically enhanced the action part of learning. Secondly, not only have I studied these three leadership categories on team learning individually, but I have also provided insights into the complementary character of these three leadership substances as regards team learning. Empirical findings have shown that in order to engage in successful learning cycles of reflection and action, a team needs to engage in leadership activities of task, relations and change.
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Shared leadership and team learning: The story of three project teams
Hildebrand, Dagmar
Universitat Ramon Llull (URL). ESADE

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