Multiple team membership and empowerment spillover effects: Can empowerment processes cross team boundaries?
In today's organizations, employees are often assigned to be members of multiple teams simultaneously (i.e., multiple team membership). Using a scenario-based experiment and a field study of leaders and their employees, we examined how empowering leadership behavior exhibited by two different team leaders toward a single employee working on two different teams can spillover to affect that employee's psychological empowerment and subsequent proactivity across the teams. In both studies, we found that each of the team leaders' empowering leadership behaviors uniquely and positively influenced an employee's psychological empowerment and subsequent proactive behaviors. In the field study, we found further that empowering leadership behavior exhibited by one team leader influenced the psychological empowerment and proactive behaviors of his/her team member not only in that leader's team but also the other team that is outside of that leader's stewardship. Finally, in both studies, we found that empowering leadership exhibited in one team could substitute for lower levels of empowering leadership experienced in a different team. We discuss our contributions to the motivation, teams, and leadership literatures and provide practical guidance for leaders managing employees who have multiple team memberships.