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Emergent Leadership: Why and How to Let Your Team Take the Lead

Asloob Alam

Emergent leadership may seem self-explanatory, but it is essential to comprehend rather than understand its one or two lines of meaning.

What is Emergent Leadership?

Emergent leadership refers to the compelling situations in which a leader develops organically inside a company, irrespective of domain. Employees become emergent leaders when they begin showing up on tasks voluntarily, assisting others in doing their jobs effectively, and supporting their colleagues to enhance the team’s productivity. An employee in this sort of leadership is characterized by having to demonstrate their leadership qualities before receiving a formal leadership title like the manager, team leader, and so on.

Employees are expected to feel responsible in the workplace, but because they are assigned to specific positions, they are constrained in how much responsibility they can assume. According to ethical standards, regardless of status, whoever is selected must accept the company's obligations.

Some businesses restrict their employees' willingness to accept responsibility. Importantly, it gives team members the liberty to make judgments that contrast with the grain of an organization's conventional hierarchy. Contrarily, other companies, such as Troop Messenger, encourage emergent leadership, which honors teamwork.

Assigned leaders are those who are raised to positions of official authority within their companies. That being said, a person is a leader when they exercise it, regardless of whether it was given to them.

Why should companies encourage Emergent Leadership?

The managerial theories are the counterpart of the emerging leadership approach. It has a strong affinity for the transformational method, which holds that effective leadership results from solid bonds between team members and leaders.

Most companies frequently implement development programs to improve leadership abilities, yet many initiatives need to be revised. Instead, disclosing and enhancing a person's leadership capacity should be the main focus of the leadership development experience. The individual's perception of their sense of purpose, self-efficacy, and cognitive competence should be continuously tracked by the program.

Let me give you an eagle's eye view: Employees don't find the managing director approachable or accessible. Even if they do, they could assume that the company won't make changes to its policies or take appropriate action based on their opinions. Therefore, when there are emerging leaders at work, they will take the initiative to resolve problems in their capacity without having to consult senior management. Henceforth, it directly affects your employees' perception of the company will be impacted.

Any company would like loyal employees. Therefore organizations must democratize leadership by promoting emerging leaders to higher positions who exceed expectations and go above and beyond in their work. Organizations must consequently make internal promotions instead of hiring employees for manager roles from other companies, as promoting emergent leadership will be the wise course of action.

Characteristics of Emergent Leadership

Emergent leadership that is emerging takes time to develop. It follows a systematic procedure. It takes place gradually and is primarily powered by conversation. Emergent leaders, also known as people's managers, have characteristics that distinguish them and help them stand out as the most outstanding performer.


Emerging leaders tend to have significant unintentional influence over their peers. Team members would admire them, and they would likely strive to emulate them in the future. In other words, colleagues will try to adopt and embrace their ideology.


The fact that emergent leader is efficient inside their group even though their position as a leader has no official standing within an organization is because their group members have accepted them. These managers succeed naturally in their leadership positions because they have gained the respect of the other team members. They know each team member's strengths since they work closely, whereas you might need to hold brainstorming sessions to get thoughts or suggestions.

Self Assured

They gain the confidence and trust of their teammates, which boosts their performance confidence. Team members consequently feel secure knowing that someone is around who can vouch for them. As hinted above, they are also more assertive since they are aware of the support and gratitude of their teammates.


The hierarchical organizational structure, in which leaders look out for higher authorities' interests and do not need to consult other team members before anything is approved, is indicative of assigned leadership.

While only a collaborative workplace is conducive to emerging leaders since they value their coworkers and are obligated to manage a cross-generational team, emerging leaders don't rely solely on their feelings and emotions while making decisions. Instead, they expect others to voice their opinions and come up with creative solutions to reach a consensus. Emergent leadership appreciates team communication because it promotes information sharing, facilitates the gathering of varied opinions, and creates opportunities for others. Such practices encourage team members to pursue more inventive solutions and concepts constantly.

What if your company doesn’t encourage Emergent leadership?

Even when you are approachable to your team, there are occasions when they may not feel that way. Or they might decide to live with their problems and leave the organization because they believe the issues are below your pay grade to deal with them. And there needs to be someone who can handle the company's operations in your absence; otherwise, you'll have to give up personal time, like canceling leaves, to manage daily operations, which will make it harder to balance your personal and professional life.

You may have appointed leaders, just like any other organization, but this comes with difficulties that can be costly and time-consuming. An emergent leader, who has already acquired the trust of their peers via their own actions, may lead more quickly than an assigned leader who must invest more time and resources in that process.

There is no harm in having an emergent leader in a company; on the plus side, you may manage operations on team collaboration software while handling critical functions while staying in constant contact with the emergent leader.

What is not Emergent Leadership?

Most likely, the company's management misunderstood some circumstances for emerging leadership, although they are exactly the opposite of emergent leadership traits.


  • Management’s favorites
  • Just an experience wouldn't make anyone an emergent leader
  • Monopolizing the team
  • The person who advocates for secession
  • Favors their team members consistently despite a poor or mediocre performance in the name of caste, reciprocity, ideologies, etc.
  • Sycophants praise the manager or influential people for winning their favor.
  • Megalomaniac is someone who feels entitled to power and is seeking it.
  • Favors those who give them praise
  • Desperate to show the team that they are more skilled than they are
  • Not assisting coworkers because to fear that others could dominate


The best example of emergent leadership is Mr. Subash Chandra Bose, who took the initiative to lead the freedom movement uniquely. Despite receiving no credit for achieving freedom, he remained silent while relishing India's independence from colonial horrors.


Empathy is more likely to be demonstrated when leadership is developed organically by the team rather than dictated by the organization's administration. They are well-versed in the team, culture, and task at hand, which will ease their transition into leadership and enable them to contribute the most to the team and the company. A positive workplace culture is demonstrated by the company's promotion of emerging leadership.

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