Group-based ‘interaction-expectation’ theory

The group-based ‘interaction-expectation’ theory of leadership suggests that all members of a group have expectations that each will act according to their role in the group. The extent to which this occurs engenders further expectations among all group members. ‘Followers continually expect leaders to accept leader responsibilities and to exhibit effective leadership skills.’ (Jordan 1989 p. 40). Leaders also expect their followers to give them the status which they see as appropriate for a leader. If the group gives this status and recognition to another group member then the designated leader’s power diminishes significantly.

The level and form of interaction varies between group members and leader, within the group itself and over the time that the group remains together. At one end of the scale there may be unquestioning acceptance of ‘normal’ roles and behaviours, with little or no direct communication between leader and followers. At the other end of the scale there can be serious role confusion where leader and group members are so involved in each other’s expected roles that there is no clear differentiation between them. Optimally, a good interaction between leader and group members will lead to equal acceptance and reinforcement of appropriate roles and behaviours. This can lead, in turn, to the strengthening of the leader’s and group’s effectiveness.