What Is Emergent Leadership?

What is an emerging leader?

Emergent leadership is a management approach based on building a collaborative culture that has been shown to significantly boost innovation and profitability. Emergent leaders are equipped with tenacity and effective communication skills that enable them to engage with people, seek out information directly, and be creative while considering the opinions of the entire group. Emergent leadership is more flexible to change, more effective, and more likely to succeed in any situation than traditional leadership.

How Emergent Leadership Works: DOs and DONT’S

Traits of emergent leaders

Emergent leaders have a few characteristics that help differentiate them from other team members:


Emergent leaders emerge from the group because they have an innate desire to solve problems and help others do the same by posing queries and exchanging ideas. They are the ones who speak up and offer a solution to the problem. Self-starters, emerging leaders help projects gain and maintain momentum.

Creative Thinking

Emergent leaders frequently do so because they speak up to offer the group fresh ideas. They demonstrate their leadership skills by making suggestions to help the group find a way to solve a problem so they can finish a task. They are innovative and arent afraid to take risks.


Emerging leaders within a team can have a positive impact on their coworkers. They are accepted due to their standing within the company and their leadership abilities. They are respected by their peers because they look for feedback from others, which enables them to uphold their leadership credibility.


An emerging leader can control and modify their own actions to benefit their group. When it comes to making decisions and considering their own behavior, they serve as their own boss. They have the self-control to control their own actions, and they also encourage others to do the same.


Traditional and emerging leaders differ significantly in a number of ways, including their capacity to adjust to any workplace circumstance. A emergent leader offers assistance when it is most needed because leadership within the organizational structure is fluid. They can switch from participating in the team to directing the team with their advice.

Emerging leaders instruct others to apply their skill set to advance the organization by recognizing when a situation requires a different approach. An organization that supports emerging leaders fosters an environment where flexible practices and approaches are valued.


Emergent leaders are cognizant of the value of consensus over dominance when making decisions. They understand that the team is crucial to the company’s success and that they are a part of it, not superior to it. An emergent leader’s job is to encourage others to work in a way that will result in the process of coming up with solutions.

What is emergent leadership?

Emergent leadership is a type of organizational structure where leaders are chosen by themselves rather than by a corporate hierarchy. According to this model, leaders are identified and develop over time from within the organization based on their capacity for making decisions and achieving results.

In contemporary businesses, this method of managing large teams has become more common because it rewards critical and creative thinking over blindly adhering to directives from above. Emergent leaders, as opposed to designated leaders, are those who influence, are respected, and are imitated by their peers.

Why should businesses incorporate emergent leadership?

When a company decides to use emergent leadership, both executive leaders and employees can profit from this structure. The following are some benefits that come with using emergent leaders by businesses:

Emergent leadership promotes independence

Employees in this structure are free to make decisions without seeking supervisor approval, enabling emergent leaders to select the best options for their team in the face of a crisis.

Emergent leadership shifts perspective

With this style of management, the idea of a new boss arriving and imposing their ideas on the team is changed. Instead, leadership is shaped over time by team interactions within the organization. Those who are naturally suited to lead do so; for this reason, the leadership style is called

Emergent leadership creates a supportive culture

Businesses that use emergent leadership cultivate a culture where team members can become leaders because they are encouraged by their colleagues. Due to employees’ autonomy to self-govern their teams with leaders they help choose, they also have the support of executive leaders.

Emergent leadership allows ownership

In emergent leadership structures, those with the greatest stake in the outcomes take charge of the situation using their insider insights and knowledge. Since emergent leadership relies on consensus rather than a decree, it eliminates the bureaucracy of a top-down hierarchy that can cause delays in decision-making.

Emergent leadership builds trust

The leadership structure becomes one of mutual trust when leaders are selected based on their own merit through interactions with their peers. Employees can feel included and valued in a leader’s decisions because emergent leadership is more focused on team decision-making. The likelihood of them believing the leader has their best interests in mind increases.

Theories of Emergent Leadership

Emergent leadership researchers have put forth a number of hypotheses as to how this approach functions. The theories that explain how and why emergent leadership works in a group environment are as follows:

Valence model

The Valence Model theory states that before emerging as a leader, there are three distinct stages. The first is a leadership orientation, in which a person’s behavior denotes that they have leadership potential. The second stage is conflict, which simply means that two potential leaders may emerge before one is explicitly chosen. Emergence is the last stage, where team members voluntarily follow the new leader.


According to the neo-emergent theory, leaders are determined by how they aid the team in achieving a goal. The team determines who is a potential leader based on how successfully that goal is met and the ways that person helped. Leaders are recognized once a goal is met.

Social identity

This theory contends that a group develops its own identity or prototype over time. The team leader who most closely resembles that prototype is identified. Those who most closely resemble the group’s identity are given power as team leaders.

Theory of Idiosyncrasy Credit

According to this theory, individuals who fulfill the team’s leadership expectations are recognized as leaders within their group. The potential leaders actions receive “credit” from other team members. Those with enough “credit” demonstrate that they meet the requirements for the position of superior and are chosen to assume the role of leader within the group.


What is a emergent leadership?

Kirkman has always been intrigued by the idea of emergent leadership, which is described in the research paper as “the extent to which an individual without formal status or authority is perceived by one or more team members as exhibiting leaderlike influence.”

What is an example of an emergent leader?

Examples include: team leaders, managers, department heads and administrators. On the other hand, a member of a collaborative group who takes the lead is known as emergent leadership. No matter what title they hold, this person demonstrates emergent leadership through their actions.

What are the characteristics of emergent leaders?

Emergent leaders possess certain traits that help set them apart within a team:
  • Self-motivation. …
  • Creative Thinking. …
  • Influence. …
  • Self-management. …
  • Adaptability. …
  • Team-orientation. …
  • Emergent leadership promotes independence. …
  • Emergent leadership shifts perspective.

What are three emergent leadership requirements?

Three Emerging Leader Qualities That Guarantee Success
  • Continuous learning: Stay curious. Education and continuous learning level the playing field.
  • Servant leadership: The role of empathy. An organization is only as good as its people.
  • An outside-in view: Challenge yourself to think customer first.

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