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There is no leadership if no-one follows: Why leadership is necessarily a group process



In this paper, we put forward the thesis that leadership is fundamentally a group process: leaders must be ‘one of us’. We build our argument around recent social identity theory and self-categorisation theory analyses of leadership. In doing so, we highlight the essential nature of shared psychological group memberships as the key mediating processes through which leadership develops. Through a review of existing research, we then demonstrate: (1) how leadership is exerted through in-group-based social influence; (2) how the more that group members capture the attributes of ‘us-in-context’ – the more they are in-group prototypical – the greater will be their leadership potential; and (3) how common attributes associated with leadership (i.e. trust, charisma, fairness) can all be understood as outcomes of shared psychological group membership. Leadership, however, is not simply about ‘being’, it is about ‘doing’ as well. In this manner, we discuss the importance of acting to advance the group (in the form of social identity advancement) and crafting a sense of the group (in the form of social identity entrepreneurship). We conclude by reviewing a recently-developed Identity Leadership Inventory that allows practitioners to take these ideas from concepts to practice.
Interest Group in
Coaching Psychology
ISSN: 1750-2764
International Coaching
Psychology Review
Volume 10 No. 1 March 2015
paper is that leadership is not about
individuals who occupy roles. It is,
instead, about group processes more
broadly. The concept of leadership is sense-
less when abstracted and decontextualised
from the group. It does not differ from other
group processes (e.g. co-operation, group
decision-making, social loafing) or group
outcomes (e.g. social norms) in its necessary
emergence from, and boundedness within,
groups (Haslam, Reicher & Platow, 2011;
Platow et al., 2003). This simple assumption
can be understood by the even simpler
observation that the absence of followers
indicates the clear absence of leadership.
Gibb (1947) recognised this over half-a-
century ago when he observed, ‘there can be
no leader without followers’ (p.270); this was
recently reaffirmed by King (2010), who
noted that, ‘when individuals follow
another’s actions, they make that individual
a leader’ (p.671).
Gibb’s (1947) and King’s (2010) observa-
tions (among others, for example, van Knip-
penberg et al., 2005; Yorges, Weiss &
Strickland, 1999) are critical in another
respect; they point to social influence as the
essential conceptual linchpin underlying the
process of leadership (Turner, 1991).
Amongst other things, this means that no
analysis of leadership is complete – and that
no analysis of leadership will be conceptually
and functionally successful without a
proper analysis of social influence. Ulti-
mately, as we and others have outlined previ-
ously (Haslam et al., 2011; Hogg, 2001),
leadership is the process (not a person; see, for
example, Hollander & Julian, 1969; Vander-
slice, 1988) of influencing others in a manner
that enhances their contribution to the realisation
of group goals. At the heart of our analysis,
20 International Coaching Psychology Review Vol. 10 No. 1 March 2015
© The British Psychological Society – ISSN: 1750-2764
There is no leadership if no-one follows:
Why leadership is necessarily a group
Michael J. Platow, S. Alexander Haslam, Stephen D. Reicher
& Niklas K. Steffens
In this paper, we put forward the thesis that leadership is fundamentally a group process: leaders must be ‘one
of us’. We build our argument around recent social identity theory and self-categorisation theory analyses of
leadership. In doing so, we highlight the essential nature of shared psychological group memberships as the
key mediating processes through which leadership develops. Through a review of existing research, we then
demonstrate: (1) how leadership is exerted through in-group-based social influence; (2) how the more that group
members capture the attributes of ‘us-in-context’ – the more they are in-group prototypical the greater will be
their leadership potential; and (3) how common attributes associated with leadership (i.e. trust, charisma,
fairness) can all be understood as outcomes of shared psychological group membership. Leadership, however, is
not simply about ‘being’, it is about ‘doing’ as well. In this manner, we discuss the importance of acting to
advance the group (in the form of social identity advancement) and crafting a sense of the group (in the form
of social identity entrepreneurship). We conclude by reviewing a recently-developed Identity Leadership
Inventory that allows practitioners to take these ideas from concepts to practice.
Keywords: social identity; psychological group membership; social influence; in-group prototypicality; social
identity advancement; social identity entrepreneurship.
then, are groups, influence and processes
(not individuals or roles).
Scope of analysis: Psychological groups
and psychological leadership
Our positioning of leadership firmly within
the domain of group processes is far from
unique, despite many analyses seeking to
identify or list the individual attributes (e.g.
Bartone et al., 2009; Bass, Avolio & Good-
heim, 1987) and personal developmental
experiences (Avolio & Gibbons, 1988) of
leaders. For example, Gibb’s (1969) analysis
of leadership in Lindzey and Aronson’s
second edition of their Handbook of Social
Psychology began with just the same premise,
as did Stogdill’s (1950) analysis before him.
Before even defining leadership, these
authors provided theoretical overviews of
contemporary understandings of social
groups. We follow a similar path, both for
conceptual clarity, and to outline the scope
of our review and analysis. By positioning
our analysis of leadership within the domain
of group processes, we knowingly restrict this
scope to be within specific theoretical and
empirical parameters. Of course, the
domain of ‘group processes’ is substantial in
its own right (Burn, 2004; Cartwright &
Zander, 1960; Forsyth, 1999). Clearly, then,
our chosen definition of a group will estab-
lish a second scope condition, binding the
parameters of our leadership analysis. As
social psychologists, the focus our analysis
will be on psychological groups in contrast to
sociological groups (cf., Deutsch, 1949).
In our usage of these terms, a key feature
underlying sociological groups is that the
parameters defining them can be identified,
observed, and measured by independent
observers, regardless of whether supposed group
members see themselves as such. Many of these
parameters were central to original social-
psychological work in group dynamics, such
as interdependence (Lewin, 1951; Thibaut &
Kelley, 1959) and structure, roles, and norms
(Sherif & Sherif, 1969). Other criteria often
involved in identifying sociological groups
are biological or, at least, consensually agreed
upon, inclusionary criteria, such as those
based on sex, race, and ethnicity. Delineating
such third-party observer criteria aids
researchers’ and practitioners’ attempts
clearly to operationalise constructs; it is a
relatively easy task to justify to readers that
one is examining group and intergroup rela-
tions when one studies formal organisations
or inter-ethnic attitudes (e.g. prejudice).
Moreover, social and psychological processes
operating within and between sociological
groups are often the precise focus of the
theoretical, empirical, and applied questions
being asked (Katz & Kahn, 1966). Frankly,
many decision makers want to know how best
to choose a successful person to manage their
company to achieve sought-after material
outcomes; and many activists want to know
how best to reduce and eradicate real
material prejudices and discrimination.
Our concern with examining leadership
within the context of sociological groups is
two-fold. First, sociological groups them-
selves vary greatly. There is a substantial
difference between large-scale companies,
for example, and interdependent communi-
ties confronted with the realities of, say,
water conservation. Both represent collec-
tions of interdependent individuals and,
hence, both qualify under some analyses as
being groups (sociological groups, in our
terminology). But undoubtedly, studying
leadership in one or the other is likely to
yield very different conclusions about lead-
ership in general (e.g. Ergi & Herman,
2000). Without moving our theoretical work
further, we are likely to be left with inde-
pendent lists of attributes, qualities, or even
processes associated with our ever-increasing
lists of sociological groups (see Platow et al.,
2003). Again, developing, say, an inde-
pendent model of environmental leader-
ship, as opposed to one of corporate
leadership (e.g. Peterson et al., 2003;
Russell, 1990), is likely to help answer valued
applied questions. However, as long as the
independent lists remain independent, then
their theoretical and applied utility remains
substantially limited.
International Coaching Psychology Review Vol. 10 No. 1 March 2015 21
Leadership requires followership
Second, although researchers and practi-
tioners can independently identify others as
being members of one group or another,
if these others fail to recognise or accept
this independent labelling, then their
behaviours are unlikely to be influenced by
the group processes the researcher is exam-
ining. If individuals do not see themselves as
members of the same group as potential
leaders – or, for that matter, if potential
leaders do not see themselves as members of
the same group as potential followers – they
are likely to behave in one of two ways: (1) as
unique individuals (albeit defined by the
superordinate societal and cultural group to
which they belong); or (2) as members of a
different group. In both cases, co-ordinated
leader-follower behaviour is likely to be hard
to achieve, at best, if not impossible. In the
former case, when individuals act as individ-
uals, then their behaviours will be guided
only by their individual self-interests, not
those of the broader collective (i.e. group
that the erstwhile leader is seeking to lead).
Certainly, leadership models have been
developed to understand this situation
(Blau, 1964), but this leadership-by-buying
begins to appear less like leadership, and
more like purchasing. In the latter case,
when would-be leaders are forced to ‘cross
the divide’ (Pittinsky, 2009), obtaining any
sort of following becomes nearly impossible
(even most American Democrats would have
rather followed George W. Bush than Osama
bin Laden when the latter was alive). Again,
as another form of leadership-by-buying, would-
be leaders can wield resource power
(Reynolds & Platow, 2003) over would-be
followers, but this is not likely to result in any
following once the power is removed
(French & Raven, 1960; Turner, 2005).
In either one of these two cases, the fact
that an independent observer (a researcher
or practitioner) notes, for example, that a
particular manager and a set of general
employees are both part of the same broader
organisation is not enough for successful
prediction of behaviour. In fact, the inde-
pendent observer could easily identify (or
impose) a sociological group upon individ-
uals, fail to observe anticipated group-based
behaviours (in our case, leadership),
and conclude that the to-be-examined
behaviours were simply not group-based. But
this conclusion may well derive from an
inferential error, if one that assumes that the
social reality identified by the independent
observer is understood identically by the
subjects of his or her observations. There is
now a broad consensus within social
psychology, however, that this assumption is
faulty, as people’s own subjective representa-
tions of the context in which they find them-
selves – which routinely differ from those of
other parties (e.g. social scientists, manage-
ment consultants) prove to be strong
predictors of their behaviours (Augoustinos,
Walker & Donaghue, 2006; Fiske & Taylor,
1991; Markus & Zajonc, 1985). This applies
to perceptions of group membership as well
(Dawes, van de Kragt & Orbell, 1988;
Kramer & Brewer, 1984). It is thus psycho-
logical group memberships (i.e. first-person
beliefs that one is a group member, regard-
less of third-party labels) that we propose are
likely to capture the true processes under-
lying the social psychology of leadership.
On psychological group memberships
The processes underlying psychological
group memberships are most clearly
outlined in the twin theories of social iden-
tity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986) and self-
categorisation theory (Turner et al., 1987),
as well as other similar theories of psycho-
logical group membership and leadership
processes (e.g. Gaertner et al., 1993; Lord,
Brown & Freiberg, 1999; Marques, Abrams &
Serôdio, 2001; Shamir, House & Arthur,
1993). Self-categorisation theory, in partic-
ular, outlines key features of psychological
group memberships. The theory assumes,
amongst other things, that people’s self-
concepts are comprised of cognitive self-
categorisations, in which perceivers see
themselves as similar to (more or less inter-
changeable with) others at various levels
of inclusion. At one extreme, people self-
22 International Coaching Psychology Review Vol. 10 No. 1 March 2015
Michael J. Platow, S. Alexander Haslam, Stephen D. Reicher & Niklas K. Steffens
categorise with no-one else; this is akin to a
personal identity, as the self is seen as unique
and different from others. At the other
extreme, people self-categorise with all
humanity. Between these two extremes are
all other in-group, out-group self-categorisa-
tions, such as ‘self as a ‘company man’ or
‘company woman’’, ‘self-as-an-American’,
‘self-as-an-Indigenous Australian’, and so on;
these are social identities. The theory
assumes that when any given social identity is
salient, people cognitively depersonalise, so
that self-perception is not as a unique indi-
vidual but as a group member (Turner,
1984). From this, people are hypothesised to
act in accordance with the norms and values
of that group (Reicher, Spears & Postmes,
1995; Spears, Lea & Lee, 1990). Importantly,
it is the psychological process of depersonal-
isation that is assumed to make group
processes possible at all, including co-opera-
tion, norm formation, and, most relevant to
present considerations, social influence and
leadership (Turner et al., 1987).
It is important to note that the bound-
aries of psychological groups can be isomor-
phic with those of sociological groups.
Indeed, interdependence, one defining
feature of sociological groups, often serves to
create a psychological, social self-category
(Turner, 1985; see also Platow et al., 2008).
But interdependence is not only unneces-
sary for psychological group formation
(Tajfel et al. 1971), it can actually be the
outcome of psychological group formation
(Platow, Grace & Smithson, 2012; Turner &
Bourhis, 1996). Our essential point,
however, is that people must understand and
accept as self-defining specific group
memberships before group-based processes,
including leadership, will emerge. Leaders
certainly have a role to play in constructing
the boundaries and meanings of these cate-
gories (Haslam et al., 2011; Reicher, Haslam
& Hopkins, 2005). However, a would-be
leader should expect no followers by simple
position of a formal role (e.g. CEO, Univer-
sity Vice Chancellor), at least without buying
his or her followership.
Thus far, we have put forward two theses
in our analysis of leadership, each with an
associated corollary. These are:
Thesis 1: Leadership is a group process.
Corollary 1: Leadership is a psychological
group process.
Thesis 2: There is no leadership if no one
Corollary 2: Leadership is a social influence
Social influence as an outcome of
psychological group membership
As we outlined above, central to our defini-
tion of leadership is our claim that leadership
is essentially a process of group-based social
influence (Turner, 1991; Turner & Oakes,
1989). This is a view with a long theoretical
and empirical tradition within social
psychology. Indeed, from a Lewinian perspec-
tive on group dynamics, Cartwright (1951,
p.338) argued over a half-century ago that:
If the group is to be used effectively as a
medium of change, those people who are
to be changed and those who are to exert
influence for change must have a strong
sense of belonging to the same group.
Empirically, we can begin by reflecting on
the classic experimental analysis of social
influence provided by Asch (1956). Asch’s
studies are often cited as demonstrating the
power of others to induce conformity,
although Friend, Rafferty and Bramel
(1990) demonstrate that Asch also observed
a great deal of non-conformity (see also
Jetten & Hornsey, 2012). Social influence
was, thus, undoubtedly present in his studies,
but undoubtedly, too, it was absent.
Bond and Smith’s (1996) meta-analysis of
studies using an Asch-like paradigm
(including Asch’s own original studies)
provides some insight into the basis of this
variability. Among other things, this reveals
significantly lower levels of social influence
when the potential influencing agents were
likely to be perceived as out-group members.
So, part of the apparent independence
observed in Asch’s original studies is likely to
have emerged from the failure of psycho-
International Coaching Psychology Review Vol. 10 No. 1 March 2015 23
Leadership requires followership
logical out-group members to be influential
(see Abrams et al., 1990, for a direct test).
Indeed, similar failures of out-group
members to be influential have been
observed in other, less reactive, paradigms
(Bourgeois & Hess, 2008; Yabar et al., 2006).
Importantly, there are now several direct
tests of the self-categorisation, social-influ-
ence hypothesis and the outcomes of eight
specific tests are summarised in Figure 1. The
first two tests represent analyses of influence
upon group-members’ interpretations of the
social context confronting them, and their
own subjective experiences of that reality
(e.g. what may otherwise be called ‘intellec-
tual stimulation’ on the part of the leader;
Bass, 1985, p.98; see also Bass & Riggio,
2006). Panel A of Figure 1 displays the results
of an experiment in which either an in-group
or an out-group influencing agent provided
an interpretation of a potentially stress-
arousing task (a mathematics exam) as being
either ‘a challenge’ or ‘stressful’ (Haslam et
al., 2004). As can be seen, participants’ own
stress levels were influenced by the agent’s
interpretation of the task only when that
agent was a fellow in-group member; the
would-be influencing agent who was an out-
group member simply had no effect on
participants’ understandings of their own
subjective reality. Panel B is even more
striking (Platow et al., 2007). Here, partici-
pants’ levels of physiological arousal were
measured in a pain-inducing situation via
galvanic skin responses. After a first trial
experiencing the pain induced by immer-
sion of a hand into ice-water – participants
were reassured about the ease of the second
trial by either a fellow in-group member or
an out-group member, or they received no
reassurance at all in a control condition. As
can be seen in Panel B, in a setting known to
induce pain, participants were physiologically
calmer when they received reassurance from
a fellow in-group member than when they
received the same reassurance from an out-
group member. Indeed, notice that out-
group reassurance was no better than
receiving no reassurance at all.
Panels C and D of Figure 1 both demon-
strate the effects of in-group-based social
influence on overt behaviours. In the
former, participants listened to an audiotape
of a comedian delivering jokes (Platow et al.,
2005). In some recordings the comedian
spoke with no audible responses from an
audience; in other recordings, however,
canned laughter overlayed the comedian’s
delivery. Critically, participants were led to
believe that the audience comprised either
in-group or out-group members. As is clearly
seen, only laughter from in-group members
led to an enhancement of participant
laughter over a no-laughter baseline. In
other words, the identical canned-laughter
recording from an out-group was unable to
affect participants’ behaviour. Panel D shows
a similar pattern. Here, participants’ food
consumption was recorded after an in-group
member or an out-group member indicated
that she had eaten a lot or a little herself (i.e.
establishing a norm of consumption or non-
consumption). Only the behaviour of a
fellow in-group member led participants to
follow through their own eating behaviour
(Cruwys et al., 2012).
Crucial evidence of social influence
directed toward promoting collective welfare
is displayed in the next two Panels of Figure
1. The data represented in Panel E were
collected in a context in which monetary
contributions to the Salvation Army were
sought from sport fans attending Australian
Rules football games (Platow et al., 1999).
Here one can see that fans contributed more
when the collector supported the same team
as they did than when the collector
supported the opposing team. Note that
these contributions were not distributed to
the opposing teams themselves, but, in all
cases to the identical, neutral third-party,
known for its charity; yet it was in-group
members who exerted the strongest influ-
ence on fans to contribute to the broader,
collective good. Panel F shows clear in-group
social influence in a bystander-intervention
paradigm (Levine et al., 2002). Here the self-
reported likelihood of helping was
24 International Coaching Psychology Review Vol. 10 No. 1 March 2015
Michael J. Platow, S. Alexander Haslam, Stephen D. Reicher & Niklas K. Steffens
International Coaching Psychology Review Vol. 10 No. 1 March 2015 25
Leadership requires followership
Figure 1. Results from eight direct tests of the self-categorisation,
social-influence hypothesis.
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completely unaffected by the presence or
absence of out-group bystander interven-
tion. However, there was a relative decrease
in the likelihood of helping when in-group
members failed to intervene, and a substan-
tial increase in the likelihood of helping
when in-group members actually did inter-
vene to help. In short, it was in-group
members, and not out-group members, who
led the way toward helping others.
The final two Panels of Figure 1 relate to
similar in-group-based processes that
operate in the context of minority influence,
a situation often confronted by leaders.
Specifically, in Panel G, participants’ atti-
tudes toward educational funding increases
were influenced more by a minority opinion
expressed by in-group members than by out-
group members (Martin, 1988). Finally,
Panel H displays results from a direct
comparison between majority and minority
influence (David & Turner, 1996). Here,
positive values represent attitudinal move-
ment toward the influencing agent, while
negative values represent movement away
from the influencing agent. From this two
patterns can be discerned. First, it is clear
that group members aligned their own atti-
tudes more with in-group than with out-
group others. Second, this in-group-based
influence occurred even when the original
view was a minority view. Indeed, we see that
out-group members were unable to
engender any minority influence at all.
These eight studies (and, indeed, others
too, for example, Grace, David & Ryan, 2008;
Oldmeadow, Platow & Foddy, 2005;
Oldmeadow et al., 2003; Puhl, Schwartz &
Bronwell, 2005; Sechrist & Young, 2011)
provide clear evidence that supports self-
categorisation theory’s hypothesis that the
primary mechanism through with social
influence occurs is shared group member-
ship between the would-be influencing agent
and the targets of influence. The final ques-
tion, however, is whether this in-group-based
social influence represents sheep-like,
thoughtless conformity, or whether would-be
followers actually reflect actively upon the
information provided. Mackie, Worth and
Asuncion (1990) and McGarty et al. (1994)
independently sought to answer this ques-
tion, with both confirming the active cogni-
tive processing of in-group communications;
Mackie et al.’s work, in particular, was able to
show the scope of this processing. In this
study, when the issue at hand was relatively
unimportant to the group members, partici-
pants were persuaded more by fellow in-
group members than by out-group
members, regardless of the strength of the argu-
ments put to them. However, when the issue at
hand was relatively important, a more
complex pattern emerged. First, would-be
influencing agents who were out-group
members exerted little effect over partici-
pants’ own attitudes, again, regardless of the
strength of the arguments. However,
in-group members were indeed influential
and substantially so on this in-group rele-
vant topic, but only when they put forward
strong arguments; weak arguments actually
caused participants to move away from the
would-be influencing agent’s views. The key
point that this study makes is that when the
issue is relevant to their in-group, group
members will not blindly follow an in-group
member; that in-group member still has to
work for his or her leadership position.
Again, though, out-group members remain
largely incapable of exerting influence
regardless of the quality of their ideas.
Variability in ‘in-groupness’: Leadership
and relative in-group prototypicality
Our argument thus far implies that, to be a
leader, all one need to do is be an in-group
member. Leadership, of course, is patently
not so simple. We share group membership
with many people, and not all are equally
influential. A key factor that affects the rela-
tive degree of influence within a group is the
relative in-group prototypicality of a person,
idea or behaviour (McGarty, 1999; Turner et
al., 1987). Relative in-group prototypicality is
the self-categorisation theory concept used
to capture relative ‘in-groupness’. Defined
formally through a meta-contrast ratio (e.g.
26 International Coaching Psychology Review Vol. 10 No. 1 March 2015
Michael J. Platow, S. Alexander Haslam, Stephen D. Reicher & Niklas K. Steffens
Turner, Wetherell & Hogg, 1989), it repre-
sents the degree to which, say, an individual
group member is similar to all other in-
group members while being different from
contextually relevant out-group members.
The greater this contrast is, the more in-
group prototypical the person will be. Criti-
cally for leadership, the more in-group
prototypical a group member is, the more
influential he or she is hypothesised to be
(Turner, 1991). Thus, to the degree that
there is variability in relative in-group proto-
typicality among group members, there will
be a relative influence gradient within the
group. At any given time, and in any given
intergroup context, the most prototypical
group member is expected to be the most
influential; this person is thus predicted to
display the greatest leadership. Note too that
changing the comparative out-group can
change the relative prototypicality of one’s
in-group members (Turner & Haslam,
2001). In this way, relative in-group proto-
typicality – and, hence, leadership – is not
considered to be a stable characteristic of an
individual group member; instead, it is a
dynamic outcome of group and intergroup
One early demonstration of the role of
relative in-group prototypicality in affecting
ability to influence others was reported by
McGarty et al. (1992). These researchers
measured the in-group prototypical attitude
among their participants along a variety of
attitudinal domains (e.g. attitudes toward
nuclear power, capital punishment, and
legalisation of cannabis). Participants then
took part in a face-to-face group discussion a
week later. In two separate studies, with
different attitudes and different participants,
significant positive relationships between the
post-discussion attitudes and the in-group
prototypical positions were observed. Simi-
larly, van Knippenberg, Lossie and Wilke
(1994) presented law students with argu-
ments for and against university entrance
exams supposedly written by in-group proto-
typical or in-group non-prototypical group
members. As expected, the participants
aligned their own private attitudes more
closely with the communications from the
in-group prototypical source than with those
from the in-group non-prototypical source,
regardless of the position he or she was
arguing for (i.e. for or against the exams).
Finally, Reid and Ng (2000) also exam-
ined the role of in-group prototypicality in
face-to-face interactions. They brought
groups of six people together for a 30-minute
discussion about capital punishment. Three
of these people had previously indicated that
they supported capital punishment (‘pro’),
and three had indicated that they were
against capital punishment (‘anti’). Impor-
tantly, the experimenter identified these two
groups of three people to participants, so
that they knew who was in their opinion-
based in-group and who was in the out-group
(cf., Musgrove & McGarty, 2008). After the
discussion, participants rated how influential
each member of their in-group (themselves
included) was in the overall discussion, and
how in-group prototypical each person was.
As expected, discussants who were seen as
more in-group prototypical were also seen as
more influential.
We have now put forward one more
thesis in our analysis of leadership, this time
with two associated corollaries:
Thesis 3: Social influence takes place
within of a psychological in-group.
Corollary 3a: The more in-group
prototypical someone is, the more
influence that person will exert.
Corollary 3b: The more in-group proto-
typical someone is, the more he or she will
be able to display leadership.
In this manner, leaders are ‘one of us’,
not different or separate from ‘us’.
Leadership attributions as outcomes of
psychological group membership
Our claim that leaders are not different or
separate from ‘us’ may seem at odds with
other literature that suggest that leadership
entails the expression of specific traits, qual-
ities, or behaviours (e.g. Conger & Kanungo,
1987; Ensari et al. (2011). In particular,
International Coaching Psychology Review Vol. 10 No. 1 March 2015 27
Leadership requires followership
research and theory within the social cogni-
tive tradition that examines how people
make attributions of leadership has identi-
fied characteristics such as trustworthiness,
fairness, and charisma as being key attributes
that potential followers look for when
attributing (or not attributing) leadership to
another person (Lord, Foti & De Vader,
1984; Lord, Foti & Phillips, 1982). This is
certainly not unreasonable, as other work
has demonstrated quite clearly that – at
minimum followers’ perceptions that
would-be leaders express these attributes are
associated with a variety of positive personal
and group-oriented outcomes (DeGroot,
Kiker & Cross, 2000; Dirks & Ferrin, 2002;
Koivisto, Lipponen & Platow, 2013). In our
own analysis, we do not question the veracity
of these data; they are powerful and
undoubtedly true. Nevertheless, we do ques-
tion whether we need to examine these
attributes as belonging uniquely to individ-
uals, setting them apart from those they seek
to lead – or whether, in fact, they are actually
outcomes of shared group membership (see
Platow et al., 2003).
In-group-based trust
There is now strong evidence demonstrating
that shared in-group membership provides
the basis for establishing trust relationships.
Indeed, people routinely report that they
trust in-group members more than out-
group members (Platow, McClintock &
Liebrand, 1990). However, there is more
direct evidence of this trust. For example,
Foddy, Platow and Yamagishi (2009)
conducted an experiment in which partici-
pants were allowed to place their fate in the
hands of either an in-group stranger or an
out-group stranger (with the groups based
on university of attendance). In doing so,
participants had the opportunity to choose
one of two unknown amounts of money
(between $0 and $16) donated by each of
the strangers. When participants knew that
the in-group and out-group donors also knew
the participants’ own group membership
(referred to as a ‘common knowledge’
condition), 100 per cent placed their fate in
the fellow in-group member’s hands.
However, when participants believed that the
donors did not know participants’ own group
membership (i.e. under ‘unilateral knowl-
edge’ conditions), this dropped to 53 per
cent (i.e. effectively at chance levels). The
researchers concluded that people trust in-
group members to treat them well as fellow
in-group members. It was not the case that
people believed their fellow in-group
member would be trustworthy to all people,
only that he or she would be trustworthy to
those in his or her own in-group. This
pattern was replicated in a second study,
extending the finding to demonstrate that
trust was maintained even when the stereo-
type of the out-group was more favourable than
the stereotype of the in-group. Out-group
trust did seem to emerge under unilateral
knowledge conditions when the out-group
stereotype was more favourable than the in-
group stereotype; here, when there was no
chance that the donor could treat partici-
pants well as fellow in-group members
(because of a lack of knowledge), people
had to rely on group-based stereotypes to
make their trust decisions.
Platow et al. (2012) extended this work
by observing relative in-group trust under
common knowledge conditions even when
participants had the ability to opt out of the
trust relationship for a known, assured posi-
tive outcome. Overall, the key point for our
current analysis of leadership is that when
participants believe that others with resource
control over their (i.e. the participants’)
future outcomes, fellow in-group members
are seen as more trustworthy than out-group
members, at least when these in-group and out-
group members also know of the participants’ own
group membership. Trust, then, can be under-
stood to be an outcome of known, shared
psychological group membership.
In-group-based charisma
Charisma is another quality stereotypically
associated with leadership (DeGroot, et al.,
2000; House, Spangler & Woycke, 1991), and
28 International Coaching Psychology Review Vol. 10 No. 1 March 2015
Michael J. Platow, S. Alexander Haslam, Stephen D. Reicher & Niklas K. Steffens
seen to be an important aspect of transfor-
mational leadership (Avolio & Yammarino,
2013). This is because charismatic leaders
are understood to inspire group members to
transcend their own personal self-interests in
pursuit of new possibilities for the greater
good (sometimes referred to as idealised
influence; Bass, 1985, 1999). To achieve
charismatic leadership, some authors have
outlined key sets of behaviours that would-be
leaders ought to enact (e.g. Frese, Beimel &
Schoenborn, 2003). However, two separate
studies by Platow et al. (2006) demonstrated
how the ascription of this attribute can also
emerge from shared group membership. In
this study, university students read about a
supposed student leader. Although always
described as sharing the same university
in-group membership, the leader was
described as being highly in-group proto-
typical or in-group non-prototypical. In
Study 1, greater levels of charisma were
attributed to the in-group prototypical than
in-group non-prototypical leader regardless of
the self-oriented vs. group-oriented nature of a
supposed speech made by this leader. In Study
2, similar effects emerged using a different
manipulation of relative in-group prototypi-
cality. This time, however, the in-group non-
prototypical leader was able to gain in
perceived charisma with an in-group-
oriented (rather than self-oriented) speech.
Overall, these two studies demonstrate how
enhancing one’s in-group credentials either
by being relatively high on in-group proto-
typicality or by pursuing group-oriented
goals can lead to enhanced charisma as
perceived by would-be followers. Like other
leader attributes, we thus see that charisma
too can be understood to be an outcome of
shared psychological group membership.
In-group-based fairness
A third characteristic often attributed to
leaders is that of fairness. Indeed, it is
certainly the case that authorities perceived
to be fair are more likely to encourage
followership than those perceived as unfair
(Tyler & Degoey, 1995; Tyler, Rasinski &
McGraw, 1985). But the perennial question
remains: how is fairness to be defined?
In light of the complexities of group life, the
philosopher, Oldenquist (1982, pp.180–181,
emphasis added) made the following obser-
vation with regard to distributive fairness:
Should university administrators,
community leaders, mayors or presidents
always adopt the so-called ‘impartial’
point of view regarding the allocation of
goods? They often will be disloyal to their
constituencies if they do, and they will be
judged unethical, from the point of the
‘general good’, if they do not… It is not
obvious that wider loyalties always take
moral precedence over narrower ones…
The demand for impartiality is never true
impartiality, it is merely an invitation to give
one’s loyalty to a larger whole with which
someone identifies.
Here, Oldenquist (1982) is rhetorically
asking, inter alia, whether fair leaders will
always be the ones who garner the greatest
support. Experimental research suggests the
answer is ‘no.’
Speaking to this point, Platow et al.
(1997) presented a series of studies in which
an in-group leader made resource distribu-
tions between two fellow in-group members
or between one in-group member and an
out-group member. Research participants
were then asked to judge the relative fairness
of the leader in each context. As expected,
when allocating within the in-group, percep-
tions of the leader’s fairness were always
greater following equal rather than unequal
distributions. This finding is wholly consis-
tent with the conclusions of the previous
literature on leader fairness. Given that
there was no equitable basis for inequality,
the equal distributions were both norma-
tively and subjectively fair. However, when
the identical resource distributions were
made between an in-group and an out-group
member, the pattern of fairness perceptions
changed dramatically. Critically, in all of
these studies, the inequality between groups
always favoured the in-group over the out-
group member. Under these intergroup
International Coaching Psychology Review Vol. 10 No. 1 March 2015 29
Leadership requires followership
circumstances, the perception of greater
fairness of the equal over unequal leader
significantly decreased and, in one study,
even reversed. In this latter study, partici-
pants actually perceived the unequal, in-
group-favouring leader to be more fair than
the leader who distributed equally between
the two groups. Similar findings were
observed by Platow et al. (1995). Overall,
then, these findings support the conclusion
that the perceived fairness of a leader is an
outcome not only of his or her behaviour,
but of potential followers’ understanding of
that behaviour with respect to salient psycho-
logical group membership.
In this section, we have thus outlined a
fourth thesis regarding leadership processes:
Thesis 4: Stereotypical leader attributes are
outcomes of shared psychological group
Leadership is more than just being
Up until this point, a reader could reason-
ably assume from our analysis that all one
need to do to lead is simply be an in-group
member, particularly a prototypical one.
Leadership, though, is about more than just
‘being’, it is about ‘doing’ as well. There are
at least two key aspects of behaviour that
enhance the prospects of a group member
emerging as a leader: engaging in
behaviours that ‘do it for us’, and actively
constructing and reconstructing the very
meaning of ‘us’. We consider each of these
in turn.
Doing it for us: Social identity advancement
There is now a substantial body of literature
demonstrating that would-be leaders receive
stronger endorsements when they pursue
group-oriented over self-oriented behaviours
(van Knippenberg & van Knippenberg,
2005; Yorges, Weiss & Strickland, 1999). We
saw some of this in our analysis of the group
basis of charisma, where an in-group non-
prototypical leader was able to gain in charis-
matic standing following a group-oriented
speech. More recently, Grace and Platow
(2015) demonstrated very clearly how an in-
group member who is otherwise com-pletely
anonymous to would-be followers can be
seen to be showing leadership to a greater
degree when he or she pursues activities
(even counter-normative ones, such as graf-
fiti writing) to advance the cause of the
group more than him or herself personally.
Moreover, the research reviewed above in
our analysis of fairness demonstrates
precisely how leaders can promote follower-
ship by engaging in in-group-promoting
behaviour. In their third study, for example,
Platow et al. (1997) described the behaviour
of a CEO of a local regional health authority.
As described above, this leader’s behaviour
was seen as relatively fair when distributing
resources equally between two in-group
members, but was also seen as relatively fair
when favouring an in-group member over an
out-group member. Critically, these fairness
perceptions translated into both leadership
endorsement and social influence. Specifi-
cally, although an equally distributing leader
received stronger endorsement and was able
to influence potential followers more than
an unequally-distributing leader within the
in-group, this pattern reversed in an inter-
group context and when the inequality was
in-group favouring. Simply put, when the
leader ‘did it for us’ when the leader
favoured ‘us’ over ‘them’ – he or she was
able to garner the greatest followership.
Haslam and Platow (2001) followed this up
by showing that an in-group favouring leader
was also able to enhance potential followers’
willingness to enact his vision more than one
who distributed resources equally between
groups. In these studies, the leaders are not
simply promoting the material welfare of
in-group members, but are enhancing the
social identity of participants by positively
differentiating ‘us’ from ‘them’ (e.g. Platow
et al., 2008). This leads to our fifth thesis,
and its associated corollary:
Thesis 5: Leadership is about ‘doing it
for us’.
Corollary 5: Leadership involves social
identity advancement.
30 International Coaching Psychology Review Vol. 10 No. 1 March 2015
Michael J. Platow, S. Alexander Haslam, Stephen D. Reicher & Niklas K. Steffens
Crafting a sense of us:
Social identity entrepreneurship
We have been writing, thus far, as if psycho-
logical groups, along with their meaning and
content, came to people in some essen-
tialised, pre-fabricated manner. We have
been speaking about groups as if they
somehow exist ‘out there,’ and people can
choose to become members and/or subjec-
tively identify with whatever the social
context offers them. But groups are not
simply prêt-à-porter, and leaders have a lot of
say in the process of defining, creating, and
re-creating psychological groups. Reicher,
Hopkins and Condor (1997), for example,
deconstruct the language used by various
Scottish politicians from parties across the
political spectrum. They demonstrate how
these leaders, each vying for influence within
the group as a whole, actively construct
images of the group (in this case, Scots and
Scotland) in a manner that situates their
own political views as the most in-group
prototypical. Those on the far right, for
example, defined Scots’ as having inde-
pendent natures, while those on the left
defined the very same Scot’s as communi-
tarian. In this way, each politician was
actively constructing a meaning of Scots and
Scotland that the Scottish populace would
accept as accurate and true. The debate was,
thus, less about specific political policies in
the abstract, and more about the very
meaning of ‘us’ (both who we are now and
who we want to be in the future).
Similarly, Reicher and Hopkins (1996)
analysed the speeches of the then British
Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and the
Leader of the Opposition, Neil Kinnock, as
they each defined, and constructed mean-
ings around, group memberships associated
with wide-spread industrial strikes. For
Thatcher, who promoted an avid anti-union
stance, it was ‘us British’ and ‘them unions’.
For the Labour opposition leader, however,
it was ‘us British’ and ‘them Thatcherites’.
In each case, the leader was claiming ground
for their political position as being essen-
tially British, while those opposed to their
positions were something clearly un-
British’. More recently, Augoustinos and
De Garis (2012) made a similar analysis of
speeches by the United States President,
Barack Obama. This leads to our sixth lead-
ership thesis, and associated corollary:
Thesis 6: Leadership is about defining and
creating psychological in-groups.
Corollary 6: Leadership involves identity
Moving from concepts to practice
Although our analysis of leadership is based
strongly on empirical evidence, we recognise
that it is highly conceptual as well. Readers
can rightly say, ‘Yes, this all seems reasonable,
but how do I engage with these ideas in my
own practice?’ This is a reasonable question,
as the practicalities of leadership as it plays
out in real time and in sociological groups
comprise the very domain for which people
seek guidance. People’s lives are lived in
sociological groups as well as psychological
groups, and managing one’s way through
the complexities of the two often can not
only be frustrating, but can also lead to sub-
optimal outcomes if not done well. Accord-
ingly, in an attempt to move from the
domain of concepts into the domain of
practice, Steffens et al. (2014) recently devel-
oped a practical tool, referred to as the
‘Identity Leadership Inventory’ (ILI) to
allow for assessment of the leadership
processes outlined above. The ILI does not
measure supposed context-independent
qualities of would-be leaders; instead, it
follows Thesis 2 above in which the pres-
ence of followers is the prima facie evidence
of leadership in measuring potential
followers’ perceptions of potential leaders.
In completing the ILI, group members are
thus asked to make judgements of would-be
leaders across four sub-scales, three of which
follow directly from the theoretical analysis
we have outlined thus far.
The first sub-scale is that of Identity Proto-
typicality, and follows from Thesis 3 and its
associated corollaries. Example items
include, ‘This leader is representative of
International Coaching Psychology Review Vol. 10 No. 1 March 2015 31
Leadership requires followership
members of [the group]’, and ‘This leader
exemplifies what it means to be a member of
[the group]’. As can be seen with these
examples (and the others to follow), framing
the items with the words ‘this leader’ presup-
poses the target is, in fact, a leader. These
words, however, can easily be replaced
targets’ names or roles (e.g. ‘the manager’)
to ensure a unbiased measurement of
perceived leadership. Following Thesis 5 and
its Corollary, the second sub-scale measures
perceptions of Identity Advancement (e.g.
‘When this leader acts, he or she has [the
group’s] interests at heart’, ‘This leader
promotes the interests of members of [the
group]’). And the third sub-scale follows
Thesis 6 and its Corollary, measuring percep-
tions of Identity Entrepreneurship (e.g. ‘This
leader develops an understanding of what it
means to be a member of [the group]’, ‘This
leader shapes members’ perceptions of [the
group’s] values and ideals.’).
The final sub-scale derives from princi-
ples outlined in a more detailed analysis of
leadership by Haslam, Reicher and Platow
(2011). This demonstrates how, for leader-
ship to be sustained, leaders must imbed the
very essence of ‘us’ into the activities, struc-
tures and symbols around which social iden-
tities are built, managed, and maintained.
This Identity Impresarioship is closely aligned
to the classic leadership construct of initi-
ating structure (Judge, Piccolo & Ilies, 2004)
– but makes the point that is not ‘any-old
structure’ that leaders need to initiate.
Rather, these structures need to be identity
embedding. Accordingly, sub-scale items of
the ILI include, ‘This leader creates struc-
tures that are useful for [group members]’
and ‘This leader devises activities that bring
[the group] together.’
Overall, the practical value of the ILI lies
its ability to measure quantitatively leader-
ship processes in on-going sociological
groups. Its power can be enhanced by
coupling it with one or another established
scales that measure group members’ relative
levels of social identification with the group
in question (e.g. Postmes, Jans & Haslam,
2013). By employing these latter scales,
researchers and practitioners will be able to
assess the degree to which the sociological
group also represents a psychological group
for the would-be followers. If levels of social
identification with the group are low, then
the group identified in the ILI is not likely to
be serving as a meaningful psychological
group for respondents. This would mean
that expected group processes, including
leadership, are not likely to unfold in the
manner otherwise expected. It becomes
incumbent, then, for users of the ILI to
ensure that ‘the group’ identified in the ILI
is, in fact, an appropriate psychological
In this article, we have presented an analysis
of leadership as fundamentally a group
process. In doing so, we have differentiated
our analysis from others that focus on
inherent attributes of would-be leaders. For
us, leadership is a psychological group
process in which it is followers who effectively
make someone a leader. Indeed, Thesis 2
states this clearly, in observing that there can
be no leadership if no one follows. Like other
previous analyses, however, our focus on
followership also highlights the key linchpin
to all of leadership: social influence. It is for
this reason that we devoted a considerable
amount of time reviewing research which
shows that social influence is, itself, a psycho-
logical in-group process. We then recognised
that the broader literature on leadership has
identified a number of qualities and attrib-
utes correlated with leadership, such as trust-
worthiness, charisma, and fairness. But in the
end, we were able to demonstrate that these
stereotypical leader attributes, too, are
outcomes of shared psychological group
membership. We ended our conceptual and
empirical analysis by recognising that leader-
ship is not simply about being, it is about
doing as well and, in particular, it is about
‘doing it for us’ and about defining and
creating psychological in-groups. Finally, the
development of the Identity Leadership
32 International Coaching Psychology Review Vol. 10 No. 1 March 2015
Michael J. Platow, S. Alexander Haslam, Stephen D. Reicher & Niklas K. Steffens
Inventory informs us that our analysis does
not simply comprise a series of abstract
concepts, but evidence-based understandings
of leadership as a social and psychological
process. This has the important consequence
that we can reliably measure our concepts in
on-going group contexts to examine their
relative validity and applied value thereby
lending applied as well as theoretical robust-
ness to the psychological science of identity
The Authors
Michael J. Platow
The Australian National University.
S. Alexander Haslam
The University of Queensland.
Stephen D. Reicher
St. Andrews University.
Niklas K. Steffens
The University of Queensland.
Michael J. Platow
International Coaching Psychology Review Vol. 10 No. 1 March 2015 33
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... The beneficial role of these resources is consistent with other work in RMT showing relationships-whether between groups or between individuals-are important to volunteer groups (Aikin & Taylor, 2019;Schussman & Soule, 2005). Our research focus was on volunteer leaders; individuals who influence and engage with groups and therefore by necessity need to build relationships with other group members (Haslam et al., 2010;Platow et al., 2015). Accordingly, although our results support RMT in the resources that were identified by volunteer activist leaders, we found that the resource which appeared to play the most important role in sustaining volunteer activist leaders was the personal relationships they formed within their teams. ...
... The present research benefits from rich interview data with a range of environmental volunteer activist leaders, many with decades of experience. However, given leaders' close relationships with group members (Haslam et al., 2010;Platow et al., 2015), it would be of value to undertake a comparative analysis which compares insights on the resources which support volunteer activist leaders to those that support activists who are not leaders. Future research should also consider comparative analysis with volunteer activist leaders who have exited or are new to their roles. ...
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Environmental activism organizations depend on recruiting and retaining individuals willing to engage in leadership tasks on a voluntary basis. This study examined the resources which help or hinder sustained environmental volunteer activist leadership behaviors. Interviews with 21 environmental volunteer activist leaders were analyzed within a Resource Mobilization Theory framework. While six resources supporting sustained engagement in volunteer activist leadership behaviors were identified, only three were sought by all participants: time, community support, and social relationships. Money, volunteers and network connections were considered valuable resources, however their acquisition generated significant additional administrative burdens. Social relationships sustained volunteer activist leaders through fostering feelings of positive emotions connected with the group. We conclude with suggestions for organizations seeking to increase retention of activist volunteer leaders: namely larger organizations sharing their resources to reduce administrative demands on volunteer activist leaders in smaller organizations; developing movement infrastructure groups to build and sustain networks; and the prioritization of positive relationships within volunteer teams.
... It has started shifting its focus from individuals' behaviors and qualities to formulating leader efficacy in a group setting (Hais et al., 1997). This shift further helps to view leadership as an interactive group process in which the leaders influence followers to attain a common goal (Hais et al., 1997;Halevy et al., 2011;Hogg & Van Knippenberg, 2003;Platow et al., 2015). ...
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Current business organizations want to be more efficient and constantly evolving to find ways to retain talent. It is well established that visionary leadership plays a vital role in organizational success and contributes to a better working environment. This study aims to determine the effect of visionary leadership on employees' perceived job satisfaction. Specifically, it investigates whether the mediators meaningfulness at work and commitment to the leader impact the relationship. I take support from job demand resource theory to explain the overarching model used in this study and broaden-and-build theory to leverage the use of mediators. To test the hypotheses, evidence was collected in a multi-source, time-lagged design field study of 95 leader-follower dyads. The data was collected in a three-wave study, each survey appearing after one month. Data on employee perception of visionary leadership was collected in T1, data for both mediators were collected in T2, and employee perception of job satisfaction was collected in T3. The findings display that meaningfulness at work and commitment to the leader play positive intervening roles (in the form of a chain) in the indirect influence of visionary leadership on employee perceptions regarding job satisfaction. This research offers contributions to literature and theory by first broadening the existing knowledge on the effects of visionary leadership on employees. Second, it contributes to the literature on constructs meaningfulness at work, commitment to the leader, and job satisfaction. Third, it sheds light on the mediation mechanism dealing with study variables in line with the proposed model. Fourth, it integrates two theories, job demand resource theory and broaden-and-build theory providing further evidence. Additionally, the study provides practical implications for business leaders and HR practitioners. Overall, my study discusses the potential of visionary leadership behavior to elevate employee outcomes. The study aligns with previous research and answers several calls for further research on visionary leadership, job satisfaction, and mediation mechanism with meaningfulness at work and commitment to the leader.
... What leaders and followers have in common was brought into focus by social psychologists who argue that leadership processes are embedded in a context of shared group membership (Haslam et al., 2011;Platow, Haslam, Reicher, & Steffens, 2015, see also van ...
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DECLARATION I, Patience Thandazile Sibongile Mathabela(student number 35701455), declare that What makes leadership behaviour appropriate? The impact of elementary relationships on leadership behaviour and social influence is my own work and that all the sources that I have used or quoted have been indicated and acknowledged by means of complete references. I further declare that I have not previously submitted this work, or part of it, for examination at UNISA for another qualification or at any other higher education institution. Name: Patience Thandazile Sibongile Mathabela Signature: Date: 26/01/2020 3 SUMMARY The overall aim of the present research was to explore what makes leadership behaviour to be perceived or judged as appropriate behaviour by followers and thus as influential on followers. Based on the Relational Models Theory, which postulates four elementary relationships people engage in and defines what motivates and constitutes morally guided behaviour within these relationships, we hypothesised that leadership behaviour is more influential the more its implementation corresponds with the dominant elementary relationship of the leader-follower relationship. More specifically, we hypothesised that leaders are perceived to be more influential when they are in a communal sharing relationship with their followers and demonstrate leadership behaviour based on the moral principle of unity or when they are in an authority ranking relationship with their followers and demonstrate leadership behaviour based on the moral principle of hierarchy. Four experimental studies were conducted to test our hypotheses using a business context (Study 1 and 2) and student context (Study 3 and 4) and presenting these contexts either as a scenario to be imagined (Study 1 and 2) or as a bogus post on Facebook (Study 3 and 4). Although our findings did not support our overall hypothesis, they imply that leaders who are in a communal sharing relationship with their followers or demonstrate leadership behaviour based on unity are relatively more influential.
... Although providing effective communication is key to successful leadership, research based on social identity theory and selfcategorization theory shows that another crucial element of successful leadership is being a prototypical leader. Being a successful prototypical leader involves acting in the same way the other group members are expected to act and acting in the group's interest (see Platow et al., 2015;Reicher et al., 2018;Steffens et al. (2013). In a hospital context, this would require staff in leadership roles to follow the COVID-19 guidance they are asking their team to follow and acting in ways that support their team to follow the guidance. ...
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The COVID‐19 pandemic poses a substantial risk of disease spread among healthcare workers (HCWs), making it important to understand what impacts perceived risk of COVID‐19 spread in hospital settings and what causes HCWs to mitigate COVID‐19 spread by following COVID‐19 safety measures. One determinant of risk perception and safe behaviors is the influence of seeing others as group members. The current study aims to (a) evaluate how social identification as an HCW and trust in co‐workers may influence perceived risk of COVID‐19 spread and (b) explore how communication transparency, trust in leaders, and identity leadership are associated with self‐reported adherence to COVID‐19 safety guidance. Using a correlational design, HCWs of a Scottish hospital were invited to participate in an online questionnaire measuring their perceptions of risk of COVID‐19 transmission, measures of social identification as an HCW, perception of leaders as members of the team, trust in co‐workers to follow the COVID‐19 guidelines and perception of leaders to manage COVID‐19 prevention effectively. Results showed that increased trust in co‐workers was associated with reduced risk perception of COVID‐19 transmission. Perceptions of transparent communication about COVID‐19 were found to be associated with increased adherence to COVID‐19 safety guidelines. Findings show the importance of the association between social identity processes and reduced risk perception and highlight the relationship between transparent communication strategies and self‐reported adherence to COVID‐19 guidelines, identity leadership, and trust in leaders to manage COVID‐19 appropriately.
... Here, the more leaders are attuned to the social identity that they share with followers (a sense of "we-ness"), the more influential and trusted they are likely to be (Barreto and Hogg, 2017;Van Dick et al., 2018). Many studies have supported these ideas and shown, for instance, that the more prototypical leaders are of the group that they are leading (i.e., the more they are seen to embody the norms, values, and goals of their group), the more effective they are securing more follower support, and having greater leeway to make decisions (Platow et al., 2015;Barreto and Hogg, 2017). ...
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Although there are studies verifying that strategic entrepreneurship is positively related to the risk resistance and performance of enterprises, it is unclear how enterprises can implement effective strategic entrepreneurial activities in dynamic situations. This research aims to explore why and how the entrepreneur’s social identity influences and drives firm’s strategic entrepreneurial activities. In this study, it applied case study method to interview a technology-based family firms that have effectively conducted strategic entrepreneurial activities to meet challenges, and uses grounded theory for data analysis. The research finds that (1) the social identity of entrepreneurs actively promotes the strategic entrepreneurial activities of enterprises; (2) sustainable leadership mediates the relationship between social identity and strategic entrepreneurship; (3) at different stages of enterprise development, entrepreneurs dynamically adjust their social identity types to enhance sustainable leadership; (4) through the focus and extension of technological advantages, sustainable leadership ensures that enterprises can promote the implementation of strategic entrepreneurial behavior by disintegrating and integrating the value chain. This study explores the strategic entrepreneurship path of family firms and also provides new insights for future research on the strategic entrepreneurship and sustainable growth of such firms.
... Leadership itself is dictated by several social processes, particularly pertaining to social identity (e.g. Haslam et al., 2011;Haslam & Platow, 2001;Platow et al., 2015). To be an effective leader, it is suggested that the leadership must show they are 'of' the people, that they promote the interests of the people, and -critically -that they craft and promote the sense of 'us' (Haslam et al., 2011;Steffens et al., 2014). ...
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The phrase ‘in it together’ has been used liberally since the outbreak of COVID‐19, but the extent that frontline workers felt ‘in it together’ is not well understood. Here, we consider the factors that built (or eroded) solidarity while working through the pandemic, and how frontline workers navigated their lives through periods of disconnection. Semi‐structured interviews with 21 frontline workers, across all sectors, were conducted in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The qualitative data were analysed systematically using reflexive thematic analysis. The three themes identified in the data were: (1) Solidarity as central to frontline experiences; (2) Leadership as absent, shallow and divisive: highlighting ‘us‐them’ distinctions and (3) The rise of ‘us’ and ‘we’ among colleagues. Our research offers insights into how frontline workers make sense of their experiences of solidarity and discordance during the first year of the COVID‐19 pandemic, with relevance for government and organizational policy‐makers shaping future conditions for frontline workers.
As an example of a typical right-wing populist, Jair Bolsonaro downplayed Covid-19 and rejected scientific evidence to address the pandemic. We argue that both his communication style and approach to crisis management had consequences for the behavioural patterns of his followers, which, in turn, had public health implications. Building on survey research, we demonstrate how Bolsonaro’s supporters were less likely to consider the pandemic as a key challenge for the country, less worried about getting infected and less likely to wear masks. We show that this ‘riskier’ behaviour had concrete repercussions. Even after controlling for confounders such as population density, age, education and wealth, municipalities with higher aggregate support for Bolsonaro had higher Covid-19 infection rates in 2020 and saw more people dying from the virus.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a novel identity leadership-framed reflective practice intervention for developing sport coach leadership skills. We adopted an eight-week randomized control intervention design, including five experimental group coaches and their associated athletes (n = 47) and four control group coaches and their athletes (n = 32). Athletes’ perceptions of their coach engaging in identity leadership behaviors were measured at Weeks 0 and 8 for both groups. The experimental group coaches completed three specifically designed social identity-framed reflective practice tasks in Weeks 1, 3, and 5. Results showed that when controlling for baseline scores and compared to the control condition, the experimental condition reported significantly greater advancement, entrepreneurship, and impresarioship, but not prototypicality at post-intervention. The results provide support for the use of tailored reflective practice interventions to elicit desirable identity leadership behaviors as perceived by athletes. Lay summary: Leadership is a key aspect of team sport performance. Reflective practice is a core component of coach development. The present study shows the potential to develop leadership through social identity-framed reflective practice activities. • Implications for practice • Investigation of new ways for developing leadership • In-direct development of Identity Leadership • Multi-faceted and innovative approach to reflective practice