Considerable theoretical and empirical work has identified a relationship between transformational leadership and team performance and creativity. The mechanisms underlying this link, however, are not well understood. To identify the intervening processes inherent in this relationship, we experimentally manipulated the leadership style assigned to 44 teams taking part in a resource-maximization task. Teams were exposed either to a leader using inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, or a control condition. Our findings reveal important differences between leadership styles in communication and team outcomes (objective task performance and creativity). These results suggest that different dimensions of transformational leadership should be emphasized depending on the outcome sought. In addition, our results provide evidence for a sequential mediation model where leadership influences team outcomes through overall team communication and trust in teammates. This study suggests mechanisms by which transformational leaders may impact team outcomes, which has implications for team building and leadership training.
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