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Emerging Leadership at Operational Level: The Convergence of Self-and Social Construction of Leadership

Author:

Kumudinei Dissanayake

University of Colombo, LK
About Kumudinei
Senior Lecturer, Department of Management & Organization Studies, Faculty of Management & Finance
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Abstract

Operational level workers constitute an active and energetic workforce from which leaders emerge in organizations. Existing theories support the view that leadership is constructed by self and others. However, the process through which leaders emerge at operational level exists as an unattended agenda in leadership research. Thus, the purpose of this study is to examine and theorize how leaders emerge in a convergent process of self and social construction of leadership among operational level workers. This study is based on a comprehensive literature review followed by a case study. With the support of theories on impression construction, leadership outcomes, self-fulfilling prophecy, implicit leadership, and leader prototypes, the study identifies the emerged leadership at operational level as a convergent process of self- and social-construction at the workplace. Deploying a case from a labor-intensive industry for empirical support, the study develops eight propositions for this theorization. It finds that leadership in a large group of operational level workers emerges in a process consisting of: impressive engagement and symbolized positive performance of emerging leaders, and follower narrations and collective embracing of emerged leadership by peer followers. This theorization offers a cluster of implications for human resource managers, leader trainers, organizational line managers, and theorists while providing insights into the processes of emerging leadership at operational level. It recognizes the social processes enacted among young workers who belong to new generations, and emphasizes the significance of theorizing leadership construction processes of emerging leaders, while identifying their implications for organizations in managing new generations.
How to Cite: Dissanayake, K. (2016). Emerging Leadership at Operational Level: The Convergence of Self-and Social Construction of Leadership. NSBM Journal of Management, 2(1), 46–70. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/nsbmjm.v2i1.20
Published on 16 Nov 2016.
Peer Reviewed

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