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Leading in an unprecedented global crisis: The heightened importance of versatility

R Kaiser Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research 2020

Recent discussions of organizational performance have emphasized growing complexity and an accelerating pace of change and have called for new models of leadership for managing the paradoxes and dilemmas that they pose. The coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic amplified these dynamics and created an opportunity to examine one of the newer models by comparing the effects of versatile leadership in precrisis and crisis conditions in a field study using a quasi-experimental design with matched samples. The results indicated strong positive relationships between versatile leadership and multiple measures of effectiveness in both conditions but showed significantly stronger relationships with team adaptability, team productivity, and overall effectiveness in the crisis condition. The implications of these findings are considered for leaders, organizations, and the professionals who study and advise them about dealing with crises specifically and with the paradoxical demands of disruptive change in general.

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