Page 2

Leadership that is based on occupying a position in an organization is assigned leadership.

Examples are:

  • team leaders,
  • plant managers,
  • department heads,
  • directors, and
  • administrators.

They are leaders because of their formal position in an organization. However, the person assigned to a leadership position does not always become the real leader in these settings (Northouse, 2007, p.5).

When others perceive an individual as the most influential member of a group, organization or team, regardless of the individual's title, then we can talk about emerged leadership (Northouse, 2007, p.5).

Whereas assigned leadership refers to an officially-sanctioned, imposed role in a bureaucratic hierarchy, emerged leadership emerges spontaneously outside of the sanctioned chain of command. Whereas formal leadership is the result of planning, the emergence of informal leaders is a spontaneous event and thereby represents an unanticipated innovation in an organization. And, to the extent informal leadership is emergent and innovative, it parallels self- organizing processes in complex systems (Complex Adaptive Systems, 2004).

Some factors that have been identified as being related to leader emergence include:

  • task-related behavior,
  • frequency of talk,
  • performance self-esteem,
  • gender,
  • interpersonal attraction and self-monitoring (Kolb, 1998).











Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 3.0 License

Sirje Virkus, Tallinn University, 2009