Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Ronald Riggio

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Employees, students, and individuals are currently expected to perform leadership behaviors more than ever, even when their formal roles do not indicate a leadership position. In this climate, developing transferable leadership skills has become a critical capability. This study explores the effect of maintaining a skills mindset on the display of shared leadership behaviors in leaderless teams. I hypothesize that a skills mindset will lead to more shared leadership behaviors than a roles mindset, that this effect will be explained by increased leadership self-efficacy (LSE) and increased leader identity (LI), and that this effect will be stronger for participants with a prototypical mental model as described by implicit leadership theory (ILT). This study collected data from n = 100 undergraduate students amongst 29 groups. Each leaderless team of 3 to 4 participants was randomly assigned to either the skills or roles mindset condition, performed a survival task, then completed measures of ILT, LSE, and LI. Shared leadership behaviors were obtained from behavioral coding of the video-recorded team task. Results showed that being in the skills mindset condition did not increase instances of SLB, and that LSE and LI were not significantly related to SLB. This study found a strong priming effect of the manipulation on ILT such that all participants with an anti-prototypical mental model were in the roles mindset condition. This indicates that while leadership skills and roles may not be good predictors of shared leadership, they do hold the capacity to alter the way we conceptualize leadership.