Centre for Global Workforce Strategy

What is wrong with “Leader Emergence”? The emergence-effectiveness gap and the role of agency


Watch the recording online. | Learn more about the Leadership Lab at Koç University

About the Presentation

Leader emergence studied in leaderless groups experiments comprised largely unacquainted of individuals in informal group settings; while correlational studies of leader emergence focus on predicting leadership role occupancy. Despite the long scientific tradition attempting to understand leader emergence via different research strategies, two issues have largely been overlooked:

  1. the gap between leader emergence and leader effectiveness;
  2. the agency of individuals to become leaders.

There appears to be little overlap between repertoires of leader emergence and leader competence. While leader emergence largely depends on factors such as good political skills, motivation, charisma, low agreeableness, effective leadership requires competence, team building and communication, humility, and strong interpersonal skills. The recognition of this gap raises concerns about the strategies to identify effective leaders. Growing evidence suggests that leadership is no longer a desired career paths for all employees: “Talented employees – who are, by all accounts, successful individual contributors – are not willing to step up into managerial positions and claim leadership” (Epitropaki, 2018, p. 89). The resulting shrinkage in the talent pool may compel organizations to appoint wrong people for leadership, missing out on the right candidates who may shy away from these positions (see, Lanaj & Hollenbeck, 2015).

The presentation will focus on the agency of an individual to become a leader by drawing on two concepts:

  1. motivation to lead (MTL - Chan & Drasgow, 2001)
  2. worries about leadership (WAL - Aycan & Shelia, 2019).

The newly-developed construct of WAL has been validated in various studies using lab experiments, field studies and psychophysiological methodologies. The presentation will also include cross-cultural differences in WAL and MTL using employee data from eight countries: US, Germany, France, Finland, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, and China. The findings of this new line of research have implications for HR professionals charged with the mission of identifying and developing talent globally in the path to leadership in organizations.

About the Speaker

Zeynep Aycan

Professor Zeynep Aycan is the Koç Holding Chair of Management and Strategy with dual-appointment in the Department of Psychology and Faculty of Management. She is the founder and academic director of the Leadership Lab at Koç University (https://leadlab.ku.edu.tr/). She received her Ph.D. from Queen’s University, Kingston and conducted post doctoral research at McGill University. Aycan visited Harvard University, Aston University (UK), Oxford European School of Management (UK), Bordeaux University (France), Tartu School of Management (Estonia), and Renmin University of China.

Dr. Aycan’s work has been recognized by numerous awards, including the TUBITAK Science Award (highest science award in Turkey), American Psychological Association Ursula Gielens Book Award, Academy of Management Caroline Dexter Award, World Economic Forum Outstanding Young Scientist Award, Best Book Award in Management and Leadership, Chartered Management Institute (CMI). She has published in journals, including Journal of Applied Psychology, Annual Review of Psychology, Journal of International Business Studies, Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, and Human Relations.

She is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Global Workforce Strategy, Simon Fraser University. She is also the Elected Fellow of Association for Psychological Sciences (APS) and Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP).

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This session is moderated by Mila Lazarova, Canada Research Chair, Associate Professor of International Business, SFU Beedie School of Business and Centre Director for Centre for Global Workforce Strategy.

About This Series

This event is part of a IHRM Webinar Series, organized by the Centre for Global Workforce Strategy at Simon Fraser University (Canada), the Penn State Center for International Human Resource Studies (USA), and ESCP Business School (Europe).

Watch the previous IHRM Webinar Series installments on our YouTube Channel.

This event will be hosted on Zoom.

Zoom event access information will be provided all registered attendees 24 hours, and 1 hour, prior to the event start.

For inquires about this event, please contact: beedie-events@sfu.ca.