Shared Leadership im B2C Retail Bereich
In their current study entitled "Toward a shared leadership environment: insights into retail salespeople's work environment", Dr. Alexandra van der Berg (WWU Münster), Prof. Dr. Nils Foege (Leibniz Universität Hannover) and Prof. Dr. Stephan Nüesch (WWU Münster) investigate how managers in the retail context can positively influence a team environment in terms of shared leadership by means of clear role perceptions. They show that the business-to-consumer (B2C) sector is converging with existing practices in the business-to-business (B2B) sector in terms of relevant leadership behavior. Task performance in the retail context has become increasingly complex and demands more flexibility, initiative, and responsibility from salespeople. Accordingly, the researchers ask themselves the following question in the context of their study: How can formal leadership contribute to a less hierarchically structured work environment for retail salespeople?
To answer this research question, the researchers conducted two studies. The first study is based on a large-scale questionnaire in the field, i.e. a survey of the partner company. By cooperating with a German fashion retailer, the research team succeeds in collecting a sample of 1527 salespersons and their respective managers (regional managers, N=66). The second study includes a scenario-based experiment with 268 participants from the UK and 77 participants from the USA.
The two studies show that transformational leadership enhances a shared leadership environment. The results therefore indicate that regional sales managers can encourage the development of a strong bond within their retail sales teams by applying transformational leadership practices and by ensuring that all salespeople have clarity regarding their roles. In keeping with the characteristics of transformational leadership, leadership practices should be encouraging, personalized, and stimulating. For B2C retail settings to achieve a shared leadership environment, the results emphasize the importance of clear communication and high-quality exchange relationships. Regional managers who successfully transfer their overarching values through their leadership practices to their retail salespeople, engender a shared leadership environment in their stores. The conclusion from both studies is thus: To achieve positive leadership effects, practitioners as well as researchers who focus on retail sales practices in B2C settings must recognize the importance of transformational leadership and role perceptions.