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Research: Informal Leadership Comes at a Cost

Informal leadership often leads to reduced energy levels

One of the best ways managers can both support employees’ professional development and improve their entire team’s performance is by encouraging promising talent to take on informal leadership responsibilities. Stepping in and leading a team or project can give up-and-coming leaders valuable experience and prepare them for formal supervisory or management roles in the future, while also adding value to the entire organization.

However, while taking on informal leadership duties can help employees feel more valued and support their growth, our recent research suggests it can also significantly reduce their energy levels and job satisfaction, often making them reluctant to take on these additional roles despite the long-term benefits.

We conducted a series of studies with more than 500 students and working professionals in both the U.S. and Taiwan to explore how informal leadership impacted energy levels and work satisfaction, as well as the extent to which support from formal leaders mitigated those effects. Through both quantitative studies and qualitative interviews, we found that informal leadership often leads to reduced energy levels, which in turn reduces job satisfaction.

Please select this link to read the complete article from Harvard Business Review.

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