We extend Implicit Leadership Theory, which addresses criteria that individuals use to identify leaders, by examining whether the predictors of leadership emergence change over time. Building on leader-distance research, we predict that time influences the traits on which individuals base their selection of others as leaders: Initially, before individuals have had many opportunities to interact, and distance between them is high, they select leaders according to easily-noticeable physical and psychological traits; however, with time, as distance decreases, they rely on more covert psychological traits. We carried out a three-day field study in an intensive workshop for individuals entering an executive-MBA program (n = 64). Data were gathered from participants at four points in time. We found that the criteria by which people nominate leaders change over time from easily-noticeable traits (facial attractiveness, gender, extraversion) to more covert personality traits (conscientiousness).
- Emergent leadership
- Facial attractiveness