RSM Seminar Series – A/Prof Helena Nguyen

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In with the new, out with the old: The impact of leader succession on team silence and the moderating roles of new and former secure-based leadership

Speaker: A/Prof Helena Nguyen

Date: 14th of October 2021

Time: 11:30-12:30pm


Research on employee silence, the withholding of thoughts, suggestions, and ideas about important work issues, remains embryonic regarding the dynamics of silence during times of structural organizational change, such as when there are changes in leadership. Although leader succession is a significant event, little is known about if and how such a salient organizational event can act as a relatively instant and critical circuit breakers in organizations where silence behaviors are pervasive. In this paper, we examine how leader succession in teams can shift team members’ silence towards the leader. We also investigate how changes in secure-base leadership (leadership that provides a secure and safe base for followers/team members to explore new change and opportunities) from new and former leaders can make a key difference in shaping team silence during leader succession. We conducted a quasi-experimental field study with a total of 107 teams (bank branches) across four time points capturing periods before and after a team leadership change, with approximately half of the teams experiencing leader succession. We found that leader succession prompted a reduction in team silence, such that team members were less likely to withhold important ideas/thoughts/information towards their new leader than their former leader. This effect was strongest in teams where the new leader showed high secure-base leadership and the former leader exhibited low secure-base leadership. Our insights extend knowledge on the effects of leader succession on team silence and the important role of new and former leaders’ secure-base leadership in reshaping silence dynamics within teams.


Helena Nguyen is an Associate Professor in Work and Organisational Studies and co-director of the Body, Heart and Mind in Business Research Group at the University of Sydney Business School. She received her PhD and Masters of Organisational Psychology from School of Psychology, University of New South Wales. Helena's research is multidisciplinary and her interests include the role of emotions and cognition at work, human performance, work engagement and well-being

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