May 6, 2020
James Kelley, Ph.D.
Does your organization have the conditions to share knowledge freely? Does the culture of innovation flow in your organization? What about group identity, it is strong? This week’s BLOG focuses on the impact of Authentic Leadership on knowledge sharing in an organization.
The article is brought to you by, Edú-Valsania, Sergio; Moriano, Juan Antonio; Molero, Fernando, and the title is Authentic leadership and employee knowledge sharing behavior: Mediation of the innovation climate and workgroup identification in Leadership & Organizational Development (2016).
These authors explore the impact of an Authentic Leadership on creating the conditions for knowledge sharing in an organization. Additionally, they are curious whether Authentic Leadership is an important factor for knowledge sharing when an innovative climate and workgroup identity are present in the organization.
The authors had a great sample of 562 Spanish workers. This is a nice size sample. The Spanish sample is influenced by their culture differently than a typical English speaking sample. For example, Hispanic cultures are more collectivist in nature. Meaning they are more likely to feel pressure to fit in with the larger group and thus adjust the behavior to not be the square peg in a round hole. Whereas, in the U.S., they are more individualistic, and are taught that competition is more important than collaboration. Resulting in individuals focused on those closest to them. The reason that this is important is that it can have an unintended impact on the group identity and thus, mute the heighten the impact in this particular sample.
The authors did a simple multiple regression analysis, where they evaluate all the concepts at once to see how Authentic Leadership impacts innovation, group identity, and knowledge sharing. Essentially a series of ‘if-then’ statements.
The results are pretty straightforward. They find that if a leader is perceived as authentic, then knowledge sharing increases in the organization. When they factor in the impact of innovative climate, knowledge sharing is flowing at an even higher rate. In fact, an innovative climate is so important for knowledge sharing that it almost made the presence of Authentic Leadership not a factor for knowledge sharing to occur.
The impact of workgroup identity was less relevant in creating a knowledge sharing environment. It had an impact, but Authentic Leadership also plays an important part in the process of sharing information.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN:
Well, rocket scientist, we need not! Sharing knowledge is a fundamental building block inside an organization that creates the conditions for growth, collaboration, and a healthy corporate culture. This study, at least in a Spanish context, indicates that employees’ perceptions of their leader’s matter. Specifically, whether the leader behaves in an authentic manner. In terms of knowledge sharing, the authentic the leader the more information is shared. The more innovative the climate, more information is shared, and the stronger the group identity, you guessed it, the more information is shared.
HOW CAN YOU USE THIS BIT OF INFORMATION:
The idea of knowledge sharing is not new. Often we work in highly competitive environments where we feel that any bit of information you have is owned by you and is instantly put into a vault. You feel that it may give you a competitive advantage or make you indispensable. Thus, partaking in a form of knowledge hoarding. However, this is just stupid. This philosophy is coming from a weak and fragile perspective that is completely Machiavellian and shortsighted. many leaders ignore the concept of the wisdom of the crowds as a key mechanism for creating a healthy vibrant work environment.
So, what do you do with this bit of information? As a leader, you can set the tone by encouraging sharing. I often say to one of my four kids, ‘sharing is caring’, so give it a go. Another way is to create more space for curiosity meetings. These are meetings where you or someone on your team share something they are curious about in the business or beyond. Could you create more space in the organization for having each person on your team go off an learn new skills that are transferable to others on the team? Finally, engage in any activities that allow the trust to build through the process of knowledge sharing.
Remember you spend on average 84,000 hours at work in a lifetime….that is a lot of time perhaps not being the best version of yourself.
To learn more great ways to become a better leader check out my book The Crucible’s Gift (https://amzn.to/2IVWoNZ or stop by one of my stops on the forthcoming book tour: https://www.drjameskelley.com/book-tour.