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The intermediate leader pulled in two directions: in concert a leader to some and a follower to others

Jaser, Z. (2018). The intermediate leader pulled in two directions: in concert a leader to some and a follower to others. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis explores an important yet underexplored aspect of leadership studies, the phenomenon of an intermediate leader, here defined as an individual embodying both roles of a leader and a follower. Whilst these two roles are usually seen as belonging to people interacting with each other, this body of work is innovative in investigating one individual co-enacting both the roles and identities of leader and follower, as he/she connects different leadership relationships. This exploration starts with a broad research question: how do intermediate leaders enact both roles effectively? This thesis provides some answers by presenting three separate papers, each focusing on a separate study. Paper 1 reviews previous literature categorizing the tensions faced by intermediate leaders. It introduces the leadership triad, formed by an intermediate leader, his/her leader and his/her follower as a promising area of enquiry. It then contributes a theoretical dynamic model of coenactment, through which intermediate leaders balance the tensions by embracing both leader and follower self-concepts as mutually important. Paper 2 and 3 are both based on longitudinal, inductive, qualitative studies, focusing on leadership triads in large financial organizations. Paper 2 unveils the practice of skip-level leadership, whereby the intermediate leader’s sensemaking is bypassed by meaning formed in a direct leadership relationship between his/her leader and his/her follower. It reveals the disruptive effects that this can have on intermediate leaders’ identity. Paper 3 explores authentic leadership from the perspective of intermediate leaders, who face two separate audiences, their boss and their teams, often embracing contrasting interests. This paper contributes a model of ‘bounded authenticity’ in leadership, revealing tactics used by intermediate leaders to be authentic amidst organizational-, relational- and individual-level barriers to authenticity. The overarching contribution of this thesis is to expose the interconnectedness of the roles of leader and follower, highlighting how the enactment of one informs the enactment of the other.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
Doctoral Theses
Bayes Business School > Bayes Business School Doctoral Theses
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