It makes sense that teams work better when they share a common mission or sense of belonging. That’s why team leaders have long been advised to engage in transformational leadership in order to promote a sense of belonging in their teams. But new research shows that transformational leadership is only effective when teams are structured a certain way. The study by Sung Soo Kim, assistant professor of management at the Daniels College of Business in the University of Denver, was published in the Journal of Business and Psychology.
“Team leaders are very busy,” Kim says. “Our research can help them make better use of their time as they promote a sense of belonging in their teams.”
Kim explains that promoting a collective mission and vision, and building one on one relationships are two methods used by transformational leaders. If the team leader is leading a team that’s very interdependent, then promoting a collective mission and vision does not have any impact.
In addition, if the team leader is trying to build a sense of belonging through one on one relationships, that method ceases to be effective if the team is more than eight people.
“Their efforts don’t make an impact,” Kim says. “Since the effort is redundant in highly interdependent teams or neutralized by large team size, they could use their time more effectively.”
Kim’s co-author of the paper “The Moderating Roles of Perceived Task Interdependence and Team Size in Transformational Leadership’s Relation to Team Identification: A Dimensional Analysis,” is Christian Vandenberghe, of HEC Montreal. The researchers administered questionnaires to 234 employees from 10 multinational pharmaceutical subsidiaries in South Korea.
In highly competitive environments, such as the pharmaceutical industry in this study, issues of leadership and teams as vehicles for motivation are particularly prominent, given that organizations in these environments depend on teams for rapid innovation.
About the author:
Sung Soo Kim is an assistant professor in the Department of Management at the Daniels College of Business in the University of Denver. She earned her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management from McGill University, her master’s from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and her bachelor’s from Seoul National University.