Tensions between Teams and Their Leaders


  • J. David Johnson University of Kentucky




paradox, teams, leadership


The intersection of teamwork and leadership results in tensions, dilemmas, and paradoxes for both individuals and for institutions such as simultaneously empowering individuals at the same time it frustrates them when our naive, cultural understanding of leadership centralizes power and values leaders who can impose their will and vision on others. Perhaps the fundamental paradox of teamwork and leadership is that the more leadership is focused on an individual the less likely a team’s potential will be realized. Six specific domains where tensions arise are: at team boundaries; culture; who is in charge, rationality/cognition; diversity; and collaborations. Three approaches - clarifying different levels of analysis, temporal factors, and overarching concepts - to resolving tensions are discussed. New conceptions of leadership and the importance of the larger cultural frame within which they are embedded are needed for the management of technology and innovation.


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Author Biography

J. David Johnson, University of Kentucky

J. DAVID JOHNSON (PH.D, Michigan State University, 1978) is currently a professor in the Department of Communication. He has over 18 years of experience in assigned leadership positions. He has also held academic positions at Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Arizona State University, and the State University of New York at Buffalo and was a media research analyst for the U. S. Information Agency. He has authored over 80 refereed publications and he has been recognized as one of the most prolific scholars in the field of communication. His publications have appeared in such journals as Academy of Management Review, Communication Yearbook, Human Communication Research, Communication Research, Communication Monographs, Journal of Business Communication, and Social Networks. He has also received grants from the National Cancer Institute, Michigan Department of Public Health, Michigan Department of Transportation, and National Association of Broadcasters. His major research interests focus on organizational communication structures, information seeking, and health communication. He has published eight books including: Information seeking: An organizational dilemma; Organizational communication structure; Innovation and Knowledge Management: The Cancer Information Service Research Consortium; Dosage; and Managing Knowledge Networks.




How to Cite

Johnson, J. D. (2016). Tensions between Teams and Their Leaders. Journal of Technology Management & Innovation, 11(3), 117–126. https://doi.org/10.4067/S0718-27242016000300014