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Concept: Situational leadership theory


Across the globe we witness the rise of populist authoritarian leaders who are overbearing in their narrative, aggressive in behavior, and often exhibit questionable moral character. Drawing on evolutionary theory of leadership emergence, in which dominance and prestige are seen as dual routes to leadership, we provide a situational and psychological account for when and why dominant leaders are preferred over other respected and admired candidates. We test our hypothesis using three studies, encompassing more than 140,000 participants, across 69 countries and spanning the past two decades. We find robust support for our hypothesis that under a situational threat of economic uncertainty (as exemplified by the poverty rate, the housing vacancy rate, and the unemployment rate) people escalate their support for dominant leaders. Further, we find that this phenomenon is mediated by participants' psychological sense of a lack of personal control. Together, these results provide large-scale, globally representative evidence for the structural and psychological antecedents that increase the preference for dominant leaders over their prestigious counterparts.

Concepts: Psychology, Sociology, Management, Positive psychology, Leadership, Society, Fiedler contingency model, Situational leadership theory


Leadership is a key feature in implementation efforts, which is highlighted in most implementation frameworks. However, in studying leadership and implementation, only few studies rely on established leadership theory, which makes it difficult to draw conclusions regarding what kinds of leadership managers should perform and under what circumstances. In industrial and organizational psychology, transformational leadership and contingent reward have been identified as effective leadership styles for facilitating change processes, and these styles map well onto the behaviors identified in implementation research. However, it has been questioned whether these general leadership styles are sufficient to foster specific results; it has therefore been suggested that the leadership should be specific to the domain of interest, e.g., implementation. To this end, an intervention specifically involving leadership, which we call implementation leadership, is developed and tested in this project. The aim of the intervention is to increase healthcare managers' generic implementation leadership skills, which they can use for any implementation efforts in the future.

Concepts: Psychology, Future, Skill, Management, Leadership, The Domain, Sydney, Situational leadership theory


We describe the service-for-prestige theory of leadership, which proposes that voluntary leader-follower relations evolved in humans via a process of reciprocal exchange that generated adaptive benefits for both leaders and followers. We propose that although leader-follower relations first emerged in the human lineage to solve problems related to information sharing and social coordination, they ultimately evolved into exchange relationships whereby followers could compensate leaders for services which would otherwise have been prohibitively costly for leaders to provide. In this exchange, leaders incur costs to provide followers with public goods, and in return, followers incur costs to provide leaders with prestige (and associated fitness benefits). Because whole groups of followers tend to gain from leader-provided public goods, and because prestige is costly for followers to produce, the provisioning of prestige to leaders requires solutions to the “free rider” problem of disrespectful followers (who benefit from leader services without sharing the costs of producing prestige). Thus service-for-prestige makes the unique prediction that disrespectful followers of beneficial leaders will be targeted by other followers for punitive sentiment and/or social exclusion. Leader-follower relations should be more reciprocal and mutually beneficial when leaders and followers have more equal social bargaining power. However, as leaders gain more relative power, and their high status becomes less dependent on their willingness to pay the costs of benefitting followers, service-for-prestige predicts that leader-follower relations will become based more on leaders' ability to dominate and exploit rather than benefit followers. We review evidential support for a set of predictions made by service-for-prestige, and discuss how service-for-prestige relates to social neuroscience research on leadership.

Concepts: Sociology, Management, Leadership, Problem solving, Social psychology, Political philosophy, Employee benefit, Situational leadership theory


Resolving intergroup conflict is a significant and often arduous leadership challenge, yet existing theory and research rarely, if ever, discuss or examine this situation. Leaders confront a significant challenge when they provide leadership across deep divisions between distinct subgroups defined by self-contained identities-The challenge is to avoid provoking subgroup identity distinctiveness threat. Drawing on intergroup leadership theory, three studies were conducted to test the core hypothesis that, where identity threat exists, leaders promoting an intergroup relational identity will be better evaluated and are more effective than leaders promoting a collective identity; in the absence of threat, leaders promoting a collective identity will prevail. Studies 1 and 2 ( N = 170; N = 120) supported this general proposition. Study 3 ( N = 136) extended these findings, showing that leaders promoting an intergroup relational identity, but not a collective identity, improved intergroup attitudes when participants experienced an identity distinctiveness threat.

Concepts: Truth, Management, Empiricism, Philosophy of science, Group, Group theory, Leadership, Situational leadership theory


I never wanted to be a head of midwifery - I found myself in the position by default after I took a secondment role at a London trust that had previously been placed in special measures. I enjoyed the challenge and found my passion as a transformational leader. I reflected on my leadership approach, learned a lot and adopted new techniques for managing people.

Concepts: Sociology, Skill, Management, Strategic management, Leadership, American films, Hero, Situational leadership theory


Responsive Leadership in Social Services: A Practical Approach for Optimizing Engagement and Performance emphasizes the importance of effective supervision as a key component of quality leadership. The Responsive Leadership Approach considers employee needs, values, goals, and strengths to optimize worker performance. It is posited that when leaders integrate and operationalize the meaning embedded in the “employee story,” they improve employee engagement and work performance as well as advance their own leadership ability. Discovery tools such as the Key Performance Motivators Scale, Preferred Leadership Profile, and Strengths Index are provided. The impact of operationalizing important values and using a strengths-based approach on organizational climate and employee morale is explored. Active listening and empathic response are discussed as practical methods to discover employee meaning. Techniques for dealing with “difficult” employees and undesirable attitudes and behaviors are described. This book is a valuable resource for developing the leadership capacities of first-time and experienced health and social services supervisors.

Concepts: Sociology, The Key, Value, Leadership, Motivation, Hearing, Musical scale, Situational leadership theory


Leadership is particularly important in complex highly interprofessional health care contexts involving a number of staff, some from the same specialty (intraprofessional), and others from different specialties (interprofessional). The authors recently published the concept of “The Burns Suite” (TBS) as a novel simulation tool to deliver interprofessional and teamwork training. It is unclear which leadership behaviors are the most important in an interprofessional burns resuscitation scenario, and whether they can be modeled on to current leadership theory. The purpose of this study was to perform a comprehensive video analysis of leadership behaviors within TBS.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Health, Leadership, Abstraction, Complex analysis, Situational leadership theory


Leadership is a crucial component to the success of academic health science centers (AHCs) within the shifting U.S. healthcare environment. Leadership talent acquisition and development within AHCs is immature and approaches to leadership and its evolution will be inevitable to refine operations to accomplish the critical missions of clinical service delivery, the medical education continuum, and innovations toward discovery. To reach higher organizational outcomes in AHCs requires a reflection on what leadership approaches are in place and how they can better support these missions. Transactional leadership approaches are traditionally used in AHCs and this commentary suggests that movement toward a transformational approach is a performance improvement opportunity for AHC leaders. This commentary describes the transactional and transformational approaches, how they complement each other, and how to access the transformational approach. Drawing on behavioral sciences, suggestions are made on how a transactional leader can change her cognitions to align with the four dimensions of the transformational leadership approach.

Concepts: Health care, Psychology, Medicine, Health, Management, Leadership, Situational leadership theory, Transactional leadership


This study examined the underlying mechanisms through which transformational and transactional leadership influence employee safety behaviors. Linking leadership theory with self-regulatory focus (SRF) theory, we examined a model of dual effects of leadership on safety initiative and safety compliance behaviors as mediated by promotion and prevention self-regulations. We conducted an experimental study (N = 107), an online study (N = 99) and a field study (N = 798 employees and 49 managers). Results demonstrated that followers' situational promotion focus mediated the positive relationship between transformational leadership and safety initiative behaviors. Through all 3 studies, transactional active leadership was positively associated with followers' situational prevention focus, however, the association between followers' prevention focus and safety compliance behaviors was inconsistent, showing the expected mediation relationships in the experimental setting, but not in the online and field studies. We discuss theoretical and practical implications of the findings. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2015 APA, all rights reserved).

Concepts: Management, Theory, Leadership, Motivation, All rights reserved, Mediation, Situational leadership theory, Chess endgame


Abstract This article describes an ethnographic study focused on exploring leaders of team learning in well-established nephrology teams in an academic healthcare organization in Canada. Employing situational theory of leadership, the article provides details on how well established team members advance as “learning leaders”. Data were gathered by ethnographic methods over a 9-month period with the members of two nephrology teams. These learning to care for the sick teams involved over 30 regulated health professionals, such as physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, dietitians and other healthcare practitioners, staff, students and trainees, all of whom were collectively managing obstacles and coordinating efforts. Analysis involved an inductive thematic analysis of observations, reflections, and interview transcripts. The study indicated how well established members progress as team-learning leaders, and how they adapt to an interprofessional culture through the activities they employ to enable day-to-day learning. The article uses situational theory of leadership to generate a detailed illumination of the nature of leaders' interactions within an interprofessional context.

Concepts: Medicine, Sociology, Skill, Management, Leadership, Team, Ethnography, Situational leadership theory