Transformational leadership is generally considered helpful for team functioning. However, the social dynamics underlying the benefits of transformational leadership remain elusive to date. To understand how and why transformational leadership can foster team functioning, this study focuses on leader–follower communication dynamics during team interactions. From the perspective of leadership as social problem solving, we argue that transformational leadership is linked to functional team problem-solving processes because transformational leaders use solution-focused communication (mediator model). In a sample of 30 videotaped problem-solving team meetings from two organizations, we coded transformational leadership style and the verbal behavioral interactions of leaders and team members over the course of their entire meetings (30,128 behavioral units in total). Multilevel results showed that transformational leadership was positively linked to functional problem-solving communication by team members. This positive relationship was mediated by leaders' solution-focused communication. Moreover, at the micro-level of conversational dynamics within the meeting process, lag sequential analysis revealed that leaders' ideas and solutions triggered subsequent solution statements by team members and inhibited counterproductive communication by team members, such as running off topic, criticizing, or complaining. We discuss theoretical and methodological implications for conceptualizing dynamic leader–follower processes as well as managerial implications for leading effective meetings in organizations.
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