Tell Me Who You Want Me to Be: The Role of Collective Endorsements in Leader Identity Development

Academy of Management Proceedings


Myers, C.G. (2013). Tell me who you want me to be: The role of collective endorsements in leader identity development. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2013.


Research examining ‘leader’ as an individual role identity has gained prominence in recent years, yet our understanding of how individuals develop these leader identities in organizations is still relatively limited. Drawing on a qualitative interview study of leaders in a public organization in Singapore, I explore how receiving a collective endorsement of leader identity from the organization shapes how individuals come to see themselves as leaders, finding that these endorsements influence not only the strength of the leader identity, but also the content of the identity and its development over time. Specifically, using selection and non-selection for an organizational ‘High Potential’ program as two different forms of collective endorsement (i.e. a selection endorsement and a non-selection endorsement), I found that individuals experiencing these different endorsements developed leader identities that were built upon different orientations towards others (i.e. reflecting either a collective or relational orientation). I discuss implications of these emergent findings for research on leader identity construction and ‘High Potential’ programs in organizations.