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December 14 Member Call: Authority or Community? Two models of leadership emergence.

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Ned Wellman, Assistant Professor at Arizona State University will share his research  on the role of cognitive relational models in leadership emergence. Although emergent leadership is an essential tool for organizations seeking to meet the demands of challenging, dynamic environments, facilitating such leadership poses real challenges. He will explain why and how organizations might leverage relational models to encourage desired patterns of leadership. In particular, he will review his work on Relational Models Leadership Theory, which proposes that contextual features can cause the members of groups to quickly converge on one of two cognitive relational models for leadership. Some groups adopt an authority ranking model, in which leadership influence is consolidated in the hands of a few high-status members. Others adopt a communal sharing model, in which leadership is the collective responsibility of all members. A positive feedback loop develops between group members’ relational model convergence and leadership emergence, such that members enact leadership in a manner consistent with their shared relational model and these interactions reinforce the model. The theory also identifies two types of “jolt” events that can radically shift group members’ cognitions and actions related to leadership.

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Harvard Graduate School of Education