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Shared Leadership and Teams of Knowledge Workers: the Associative Relationship between Manager Attitude to Sport and their Team’s Leadership Behaviors

Quill, James (2021) Shared Leadership and Teams of Knowledge Workers: the Associative Relationship between Manager Attitude to Sport and their Team’s Leadership Behaviors. Masters thesis, Dublin, National College of Ireland.

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Today’s business environment is getting faster and more complicated. To remain competitive and innovative more and more organizations use teams as the work unit to deliver results. In a knowledge-based economy, knowledge workers are key to competitive advantage, with firms increasingly looking to distribute responsibility to those at the edge where they are closest to the problems and opportunities so that can act upon them quickly. Taking responsibility and making choices is at the core of leadership, and shared leadership is positively related to outcomes such as performance, creativity, and innovation. However, while is it generally agreed that a formally appointed authority, or vertical leadership, plays an important role in the development of shared leadership, the phenomenon of how shared leadership emerges within teams is still not clearly understood. Deeper insight into how they can play a greater role in developing and fostering this phenomenon would be hugely valuable for line managers building high-performance teams.

Business often looks to the world of sport for lessons on leadership. Harvard Business School case studies, journal articles and best-selling books have been written about leadership by famed sports managers or coaches, like Sir Alex Ferguson (football), Joe Schmidt, and Sir Clive Woodward (rugby) for example. Leadership in every area of the pitch is what they valued. It is proposed that a manager’s attitude towards sports influences the development of leadership capabilities within their teams, perhaps more than their own exhibited leadership behaviors.

This hypothesis was tested by conducting quantitative research on 57 managers. Three existing and reliable instruments were used to assess: each manager’s transformational and transactional/passive leadership behaviors, their attributes towards sports, and the frequency of shared leadership behaviors displayed by their teams. Partial correlation was used measure the strength of the relationships between the team shared leadership behaviors and both the manager leadership behaviors and their attitude to sports, while controlling for the effects of each other separately. The data mostly supported existing literature but was surprising at the team level.

The major contribution of this study is that although the intercorrelations between vertical leadership behaviors matched the existing theory and literature as expected, the team level leadership behaviors did not. Furthermore, it was found that more team level leadership behaviors were significantly correlated to the managers' attitude to sport than their individual leadership behaviors. In addition, it was established that managers have a significantly different attitude to sport than that in other cohorts, and no difference between genders was observed.

The empirical findings are reviewed in context of the literature and results and limitations of the research are further discussed. Finally, practical implications for how managers influence and foster leadership within their teams, organizational training needs, software development methodologies, and areas for future research are identified.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > Leadership
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management > Human Resource Management > Leadership
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > Sports
Divisions: School of Business > Master of Business Administration
Depositing User: Clara Chan
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2022 15:00
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2022 15:00

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