Assigned Versus Emergent Leadership

  • Updated July 25, 2023
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Assigned Versus Emergent Assigned leadership is primarily by appointment of people to formal leadership positions of authority within an organization. Assigned leaderships could be managers of sports teams, presidents and vice presidents of the universities, plant managers, the Coos of hospitals, the executive directors of nonprofit organizations. On the contrary, emergent leadership is the exercise of leadership by one group member because of the manner in which other group members react to him or her.

In some settings, it is possible that the person assigned to an armor leadership position may not be the person that others in the group look Upon for leadership. Emergent leadership is exhibited when others perceive a person to be the most influential member of their group or organization, regardless of the person’s assigned formal position. Emergent leadership is being exercised by a person when other people in the organization support, accept and encourage that person’s behavior. This way of leading does not occur because a person is appointed to a formal position but emerges over time.

Assigned and emergent leaders exist due to the fact that one is by appointment to the leadership positions and the other one is by the choice of the group. Many times, the assigned leader and the emergent leader exist in the same group, in such cases, they need to work together for the betterment of the group. Morehouse states, ‘When a person is engaged in leadership, that person is a leader, whether leadership was assigned or emerged” (Morehouse, Page 9). For an Emergent leader, there are seven lead-down principles, but I believe reinserting vision is one of the most important.

It talks about:

  1. Clarity of the Vision: The leader must know where he is going.
  2. Sell the People on the Vision: For the leader’s vision to be fulfilled the people must buy into it. When it is transferred the vision no longer belongs only to the leader, but it becomes the people’s vision as well.
  3. Plan the Vision: There must be a plan to involve the people in bringing the vision to pass.
  4. Lead the Vision: The leader must stay involved in the vision. He has to stay connected for the people to feel his passion for the project.

As Peter Morehouse (2007) defines leadership as a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal, transferring vision does not require any assigned position and it can be done from any level. An Emergent leader may not have the assigned position but nevertheless can influence people to his/ her vision.


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Assigned Versus Emergent Leadership. (2021, Apr 12). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/assigned-versus-emergent-leadership/

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