In today’s changing workplace environment, it has become necessary for many businesses to turn towards a team approach over an individual approach to achieve optimal results and productivity (Bligh, Pearce, & Kohles, 2006; Yun, Cox, & Sims, 2007). While a great deal of research has been conducted on the type of leadership which is most effective in producing results on the individual level, this shift in focus creates a need for more research on the type of leadership which works best when working at the team level (Yun et al., 2007). Recent studies have indicated that certain leadership styles are conducive to effective teamwork in the workplace, while other leadership styles are either ineffective or have a negative effect on teamwork (Yun et al., 2007). Recognizing the best leadership styles in a team environment will enable businesses to optimize the productivity of their employees who are working in a team setting (Yun et al., 2007).

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Basic Leadership Styles
Yun et al. (2007) identified five leadership styles common in the workplace: aversive, transactional, directive, transformational, and empowering. In this study, they attempted to identify which leadership styles worked best at building team cooperation, as measured by organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). They describe this behavior as being any positive, team-centered behavior on the part of individual team members which is “…nondiscretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized in the formal reward system and that in the aggregate promotes the effective functioning of the organization” (Yun et al., 2007, p. 172).

Leadership Styles Which Promote Teamwork
When the various leadership styles were examined in terms of promoting OCB, only transformational and empowering leadership styles were effective in indirectly increasing OCB by increasing job satisfaction (Yun et al., 2007). Directive and transactional leadership had no effect, while aversive leadership had a negative effect (Yun et al., 2007). Transformational leadership empowers team members through inspiration and creating a stimulating work environment, while empowering leaders encourage individual workers to learn to lead themselves (Yun et al., 2007). Aversive leaders are punitive and authoritarion, and give individual team members strict orders which seem to discourage unsolicited teamwork (Yun et al., 2007).

The Trend towards Co-leadership
Blighe et al. (2006) emphasized the emerging use of co-leadership groups in businesses that utilize teams in their workplace. Co-leadership encourages employees who are of equal level in the company to work together as lateral leaders, rather than relying on the input or instruction of a superior to direct their actions (Blighe et al., 2006). The work of Yun et al. (2007) can be incorporated into this environment much as it would be in a traditional supervisor/employee environment. Employees who are abusive or rely on intimidating others (aversive) will harm the team as a whole, while those who encourage and work with others to solve the team’s problems together will help to build a sense of teamwork (directive/transformational) (Blighe et al., 2006; Yun et al., 2007).

Studying the most effective type of leadership in business’ current environment of increasingly using teams to increase productivity is a new idea (Yun et al., 2007). As it seems as if the use of teams will continue to increase in the future, it is important to study leadership’s effect on these teams, in additional to on individual team members (Yun et al., 2007). While more research is necessary, what has been learned so far can help companies implement training programs to teach managers to work with employees in ways which optimize both productivity and teamwork (Yun et al., 2007).

  • Bligh, M. C., Pearce, C. L., & Kohles, J. C. (2006). The importance of self- and shared leadership in team based knowledge work: A meso-level model of leadership dynamics. Journal of Managerial Psychology 21(4), p. 296-318.
  • Yun, S., Cox, J., & Sims, Jr., H. P. (2007). Leadership and teamwork: The effects of leadership and job satisfaction on team citizenship. International Journal of Leadership Studies 2(3), p. 171-193.