Sex Roles

, Volume 80, Issue 7–8, pp 489–502 | Cite as

Navigating the Pathway to Leader Emergence in Self-Managed Work Groups Over Time: Should I Self-Promote and Try to Emerge Initially as a Leader?

  • JoAnne Yong-Kwan LimEmail author
Original Article


Despite literature revealing the negative effects of self-promotion on important outcomes for women in interviews, there is limited attention on whether this relationship exists in a peer-to-peer context (e.g., self-managed work groups). Whereas men’s self-promotion is vital to attain interview success, work has shown that self-promoting men are not viewed favorably in a peer-to-peer setting. Moreover, most self-promotion research has focused on a single time point. It is thus a puzzle as to whether and when one should use self-promotion to emerge as a leader in a self-managed work group over time. My study addresses this gap. A longitudinal study spanning a thirteen-week period and involving 165 participants distributed across 44 self-managed work groups was performed. The results showed that, for women, there was a negative effect of self-promotion on leader emergence, and its effects subsequently accumulated. For men, self-promotion was critical to their leader emergence. The findings also indicated that emerging as a leader at the onset of a project serves as a springboard for subsequent leader emergence. Contrary to existing work, gender salience in work groups does not reduce over time. The present findings imply that managers need to be aware of possible biases in leader emergence ratings resulting from self-promotion if such ratings are utilized in their promotion decisions. Despite progressive improvements made with respect to gender-related issues over the years, societal expectations of gender norms in work groups appear to persist.


Self-promotion Gender Backlash effects Leader emergence Self-managed work groups Longitudinal study 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

This article contains no conflict of interests. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the university at which the data were collected. Ethical standards were followed in the conduct of the study. All participants provided informed consent prior to participation.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Singapore University of Social SciencesSingaporeSingapore

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