Expert leaders in a fast-moving environment

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Expert leaders in a fast-moving environment
The Leadership Quarterly

This longitudinal study explores the influence of leaders on performance in the iconic, high-technology, turbulent industry of Formula One. The evidence is evaluated through the emerging theory of expert leadership which proposes the existence of a first-order requirement: it is that leaders should have expert knowledge in the core-business of the organizations they are to lead (holding constant management and leadership experience). The study's findings provide strong support for the ‘expert leader’ hypothesis. The most successful F1 principals are disproportionately those who started their careers as drivers. Moreover, within the sub-sample of former drivers, it is those who had the longest driving careers who went on to become the most effective leaders. The study's expert-leader findings are consistent with the hypothesis that longitudinal performance improves when a leader's knowledge and expertise correlate with an organization's core-business activity.

The Leadership Quarterly Volume 26, Issue 2, April 2015, Pages 123–142

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