Understanding the leadership of online support groups has emerged as an important new area of scholarship within support groups research. By analyzing leadership behavior used by Facebook support groups leaders, this paper explores an existing leadership model that has been applied to offline support groups. This research used qualitative methods based on in-depth interviews to document and analyze twenty-one Facebook support group leaders’ behaviors and offers a detailed contextual description of their behaviors. The interview guide was based on the “Leader Behavior Model” (LBM) developed by Lieberman et al. (1973) following observations of offline support group leaders holding face-to-face meetings. All group leaders participating in the interviews reported using at least one of the leader behaviors documented by Lieberman et al. (1973). The most frequently reported behaviors were Management Behavior and Support Behavior. Meaning Attribution behavior was also very widespread, and the leaders who used it described engaging in many activities relating to information, such as organizing information, producing and distributing information, and monitoring and deleting information. According to the interviews, the least common behaviors were Use-of-Self behavior and Evoke-Stimulate behavior. The overall conclusion is that Facebook support group leaders can use the Leader Behavior Model to shape and distinguish the groups they lead by acquiring a larger repertoire of possible behaviors and gaining exposure to the tools needed for creating better, safer, and even healthier online support groups on Facebook.
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© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
- Online leadership
- Social media
- Support groups