How Designating An Unnecessary Leader Effects Individual Performance
Whereas leaders are prevalent and often integral components of groups, the ways and circumstances under which the formal designation of a leader affects individuals in a group has been underexplored – particularly when a leader designation is unnecessary. This study explores the relationship between a leader’s designation and group members’ performance in contexts where a leader is unnecessary. Results from an experiment indicate that, in contexts where a leader is not seen as legitimate, there is a negative effect of a designating an unnecessary leader on group members’ performance. Two forms of legitimacy, relational and instrumental, are examined as a means of attenuating the negative relationship between an unnecessary leader’s designation and group members’ performance. Results suggest that when both forms of legitimacy are present, the negative relationship between an unnecessary leader’s designation and group members’ performance is attenuated. This research uncovers a context under which leaders begin to affect their followers by establishing a negative relationship between leaders and group members before they even interact.
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