How Emergent Leadership Can Help Your Team Thrive

Emergent Leadership: In any organization, the ability to adapt and change quickly is essential for success. This is especially true in today’s rapidly-changing business environment. To meet the challenges of today’s marketplace, organizations need leaders who can take charge in an emergency and make decisions quickly. This type of leader is often referred to as an “emergent leader.”

An emergent leader is someone who steps up in a crisis and takes charge. This type of leader is often able to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problems. In addition, emergent leaders are often good at mobilizing others and inspiring them to take action. As a result, they can be invaluable in helping their team achieve success.

If your organization is facing challenges, emergent leadership can be a critical tool for success. By developing emergent leaders within your team, you can ensure that you have the ability to adapt and change quickly, no matter what the challenges may be.

Emergent Leadership

Emergent leadership is a situation where a leader emerges naturally from a group, without being appointed. This type of leadership can be seen in many everyday situations, from school projects to work groups.

There are several key characteristics of emergent leadership, including the ability to take initiative, good communication skills, and the ability to motivate others. These leaders also tend to be good at problem-solving and have a strong sense of responsibility.

“wp-image-138736 size-full” title=”Emergent leadership” src=”” alt=”Emergent leadership” width=”1000″ height=”667″ /> Emergent leadership

Some of the benefits of emergent leadership include the development of new ideas, increased efficiency, and improved team morale.

Emergent leadership allows the right leader to be elected once they have demonstrated their potential in group settings. This will be someone who has earned the respect and trust of their colleagues and are able to inspire them.

Too often, companies bring in new leaders and there’s a big adjustment period. They may struggle with communication, understanding their teams’ values, establishing trust, or a number of key elements needed to propel a team forward.

This approach democratizes leadership by letting employees make key decisions regarding not only their leaders but also their projects. As a result, you can get employees who are more invested in the company and serve as its champion.

Promoting emergent leadership within your team is all about fostering an environment of collaboration and ownership. As a manager, you will serve as a re while allowing your team to take the lead.

By creating this environment, your direct reports will feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work and take the lead whenever their skills align.

To recap, emergent leadership:

  • Promotes ownership and independence over one’s work.
  • Fosters a collaborative environment.
  • Can create a more cohesive team.
  • Prevents bottlenecks by empowering employees to be decision-makers.

Emergent Leadership Characteristics

Wondering how to identify a leader within your organization? Here are some key traits to look for.


A key characteristic of any leader is someone who is capable of impacting someone’s character and/or behavior.

Look for comments from team members like “X suggested this approach,” and “After speaking with X, I…” – Statements like these demonstrate the impact that someone has on other members of the team.


If anything, a leader should be reliable as it’s key to building trust. It means you rely on that person to be consistent and dependable. Whether that’s in their work, communication, or another format.

How do your direct reports show up for others? Do they provide res? Are they available to mentor? Do they follow through? If the answer’s “yes,” you’ve got a reliable person on your hands.


A great leader helps others feel they are capable of more. When you’re evaluating your staff, an emergent leader is someone who brings fresh ideas and perspectives, cheers others on, and is always striving to improve.


Emergent leadership can only happen in a collaborative environment. Look for people who celebrate new perspectives, create space for others, and invite knowledge exchanges.

Emergent Leadership Examples

The most popular example of emergent leadership comes from the famous medical TV drama, “Grey’s Anatomy.” In one episode, residents were tasked with solving a difficult case together. The goal was to help them work better together but also see who would naturally emerge as the leader of the group.

The most extroverted person in the group often seems like the obvious choice but that’s not always the answer. Just like in real life, the emergent leader in the show was the one who displayed an ability to listen, delegate, make decisions, and inspire confidence from others.

Now back to real life.

Photo app VSCO is one company that leverages emergent leadership to encourage brand champions in its own employees.

According to its former VP of People and Places, Katy Shields, the brand believes that giving up control early on in the company’s growth can help it self-correct in the face of adversity.

Back in 2015, Laszlo Bock, former SVP of People Operations at Google explained how Google tackled this.

He said, “What we realized…is that giving up power is just as important to leadership as seizing power.”

Assigned leadership is the straightforward approach most organizations take. However, emergent leadership could prove to be more effective.

Related Posts