With the increasing external competition faced by firms in today’s business world, organizations have relied more on team-based management to confront with the environmental uncertainty and the rapid changes. Vertical leadership, a top-down process wherein a formal leader who possesses the managerial role influences team members through his/her authority, fails to provide efficient solutions to all kinds of emerging issues in such an organizational context. Therefore, shared leadership, which refers a dynamic and interactive influence process among members in group aiming to lead one another mutually to achieve group or organizational goal, has received burgeoning scholarly attention in both the leadership literature and the team management research. Despite the increasing interests in shared leadership, very a few researchers have systematically examined shared leadership in the organizational science. To extend shared leadership research, several research purposes were included in the present study. Specifically, we first investigated the effects of shared leadership on team information exchange and team passionate tone. Second, we tested the mediating roles of these two team process variables in the relationships between shared leadership between team performance and team creativity. Finally, we examined the moderating effects of environmental uncertainty on the mediational relationships between shared leadership and team outputs via team information exchange and team passionate tone, respectively.
Empirical data were collected from 286 employees working in 79 work teams from 19 different companies. Data were collected from multiple sources to avoid the common method bias. Specifically, team members were asked to rate shared leadership, team passionate tone, team information exchange, task interdependence, and team size. The formal leaders of each team were asked to rate team performance and team creativity. Moreover, qualitative coding method was applied to obtain data on team environmental uncertainty. Hierarchical regressions with SPSS and bootstrap with RMediation were applied to test our hypotheses.
Empirical results showed that shared leadership was positively related to both team information exchange and team passionate tone, which exhibited different effects on team performance and team creativity. Specifically, team information exchange was positively related to team performance, whereas team passionate tone was positively related to team creativity. Moreover, mediation analyses revealed that team information exchange mediated the positive relationship between shared leadership and team performance, and team passionate tone mediated the positive relationship between shared leadership and team creativity. Finally, moderated mediation analyses suggested that the mediation relationship between shared leadership and team creativity via team passionate tone was moderated by environmental uncertainty, such that the mediation relationship was more positive when environmental uncertainty was higher than when it was lower.
Our findings contribute to the leadership literature in several ways. First, we reveal the theoretical black-box of why shared leadership facilitates team outputs by identifying team information exchange as a cognitive explanation, and team passionate tone as an affective explanation. More importantly, we find that the cognitive mechanism is effective in linking shared leadership with team performance, whereas the affective mechanism is effective in linking shared leadership with team creativity. Finally, we extend the shared leadership research by demonstrating environmental uncertainty as a crucial contextual moderator affecting its effects on team outputs.