Being Part of the Team Matters for Leaders: How Leader Identity Threat Hurts Leaders and the Teams They Lead

Matthew S. RODGERS, Tae-Yeol KIM, Tingting CHEN, Emily M. DAVID

Research output: Other contributionOther outputsResearch


Do leaders care whether they are viewed by team members as being part of the team? Our findings suggest that leader identities are threatened when followers do not view them as a prototypical member of the team, particularly when the team’s views are misaligned with the leader’s own self-views. We also found that high levels of organizational support can mitigate the negative effects of leader identity threat on team performance and leadership effectiveness.

Is it better for leaders to stand out from the crowd or to be viewed as one of the team? Do leaders even care how their followers view them? These are some of the questions we explored in our recent study. There can often be great pressure on leaders to get results, and leaders are often held accountable if these results fail to materialize. Yet, leaders cannot achieve results on their own. Leaders need followers, and followers must be open to a leader’s influence for effective leadership to take place. In contrast to the common stereotype of the aloof and out of touch leader, we suggest that this inherent dependency means that leaders can feel threatened in their leader identity by how followers view their leadership, especially when follower views of their leadership do not align with their own. This sense of leader identity threat can be destructive to both leaders and the teams they lead, particularly when leaders do not feel supported by the broader organization.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputBlog post
PublisherDurham University
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2023

Publication series

NameManagement Studies Insights Blog
PublisherJournal of Management Studies, Durham Business School, Durham University


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