Some interesting articles we’ve been reading on leadership characteristics:

Ethical leadership: A meta-analytic review
A growing body of research suggests that follower perceptions of ethical leadership are associated with beneficial follower outcomes. However, some empirical researchers have found contradictory results. In this study, Bedi and colleagues use social learning and social exchange theories to test the relationship between ethical leadership and follower work outcomes.

Results suggest that ethical leadership is related positively to numerous follower outcomes such as perceptions of leader interactional fairness and follower ethical behaviour. Furthermore, the authors explore how ethical leadership relates to and is different from other leadership styles such as transformational and transactional leadership.

Results suggest that ethical leadership is positively associated with transformational leadership and the contingent reward dimension of transactional leadership. With respect to the moderators, the results show mixed evidence for publication bias. Finally, geographical locations of study samples moderated some of the relationships between ethical leadership and follower outcomes, and employee samples from public sector organisations showed stronger mean corrected correlations for ethical leadership–follower outcome relationships.

Bedi, A., Alpaslan, C.M. & Green, S. 2016. A Meta-analytic Review of Ethical Leadership Outcomes and Moderators.
Journal of Business Ethics, 139(3), 517–536.


How ethical leaders influence employee voice and exit intentions
Given the importance of voice in ethical leadership theory, Lam and colleagues analyse the relationship of ethical leadership to employee voice and the relationship of voice to exit intentions. Building on the theory of work engagement, the researchers further hypothesise that cognitive engagement mediates these proposed relationships.

To test these propositions, they conducted a field study to relate ethical leadership of supervisors, measured at time 1, to employees’ cognitive job engagement, measured at time 2. The analyses show that the relationship between these variables can account for supervisory ethical leadership’s association with employee voice and exit intentions. In a supplementary study using a different sample, the authors find that supervisory ethical leadership is related to exit intentions through voice. They discuss how these findings contribute to the literature on ethical leadership, employee voice, and exit.

Read the full text for free: Lam, L. W., Loi, R., Chan, K.W. and Liu, Y. 2016. Voice More and Stay Longer: How Ethical Leaders Influence Employee Voice and Exit Intentions.
Business Ethics Quarterly, 26(3), 277-300. 


Does leader corruption depend on power and testosterone?
Yes, according to Samuel Bendahan and his team. They used incentivized experimental games to manipulate leader power — the number of followers and the discretion leaders had to enforce their will. Leaders had complete autonomy in deciding payouts to themselves and their followers. Although leaders could make prosocial decisions to benefit the public good they could also abuse their power by invoking antisocial decisions, which reduced the total payouts to the group but increased the leaders’ earnings.

In Study 1 (N = 478), the researchers found that both amount of followers and discretionary choices independently predicted leader corruption. In Study 2 (N = 240), Bendahan et al. examined how power and individual differences (e.g., personality, hormones) affected leader corruption over time; power interacted with endogenous testosterone in predicting corruption, which was highest when leader power and baseline testosterone were both high. Honesty predicted initial level of leader antisocial decisions; however, honesty did not shield leaders from the corruptive effect of power.

Samuel Bendahan, Christian Zehnder, François P. Pralong, John Antonakis.  2015. Leader corruption depends on power and testosterone.
The Leadership Quarterly, 26(2), 101–122.


Born to lead? A twin design and genetic association study of leadership role occupancy 
Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and his colleagues addressed leadership emergence and the possibility that there is a partially innate predisposition to occupy a leadership role. Employing twin design methods on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, they estimated the heritability of leadership role occupancy at 24%. Twin studies did not point to specific genes or neurological processes that might be involved. The researchers therefore also conducted association analysis on the available genetic markers.

The results showed that leadership role occupancy is associated with rs4950, a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) residing on a neuronal acetylcholine receptor gene (CHRNB3). They replicated this family-based genetic association result on an independent sample in the Framingham Heart Study. This is the first study to identify a specific genotype associated with the tendency to occupy a leadership position. The results suggest that what determines whether an individual occupies a leadership position is the complex product of genetic and environmental influences, with a particular role for rs4950.

Read this Open Access paper for free: Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Slava Mikhaylov, Christopher T. Dawes, Nicholas A. Christakis, James H. Fowler.  2013. Born to lead? A twin design and genetic association study of leadership role occupancy.
The Leadership Quarterly, 24(1), 45–60.


Are male leaders penalised for seeking help?
This study draws on research derived from role congruity theory (RCT) and the status incongruity hypothesis (SIH) to test the prediction that male leaders who seek help will be evaluated as less competent than male leaders who do not seek help.

In a field setting, Study 1 showed that seeking help was negatively related to perceived competence for male (but not female) leaders. In an experimental setting, Study 2 showed that this effect was not moderated by leadership style (Study 2a) or a gender-specific context (Study 2b). Study 2b further showed that the cognitive tenets of RCT rather than the motivational view espoused by the SIH explained the findings. Specifically, leader typicality (perceptions of help seeking as an atypical behaviour for male leaders; the RCT view), and not leader weakness (a proscribed behaviour for male leaders; the SIH view), mediated the predicted moderation.

Ashleigh Shelby Rosettea, Jennifer S. Muellerb, R. David Lebel. 2015. Are male leaders penalized for seeking help? The influence of gender and asking behaviours on competence perceptions.
The Leadership Quarterly. 26(5), 749–762.


Mismeasuring psychopathy using Boddy’s PM-MRV?
Boddy and his colleagues have published several articles on “corporate psychopathy” using what they refer to as a Psychopathy Measure—Management Research Version (PM-MRV). They based this measure on the items that comprise the Interpersonal and Affective dimensions (Factor 1) of the Hare Psychopathy ChecklistRevised (PCL-R), a widely used copyrighted and controlled instrument.

The PM-MRV not only misspecifies the construct of psychopathy, but also serves as an example of the problems associated with an attempt to form a “new” scale by adapting items from a proprietary scale. The PCL-R measures a superordinate construct underpinned by four correlated dimensions or first-order factors, not just the two in the PM-MRV. The other two dimensions are Lifestyle and Antisocial, which together form Factor 2 of the PCL-R. As defined by the PCL-R, psychopathy requires high scores on both Factor 1 and Factor 2.

Lack of validity aside, even if the PM-MRV were to be a useful measure of Factor 1, it would not discriminate between psychopathy and other “dark personalities,” such as Machiavellianism and narcissism, which, along with psychopathy, form the Dark Triad. This lack of discrimination stems from the fact that each of these personalities shares features measured by Factor 1 and, by implication, by the PM-MRV. Research findings based on the PM-MRV may have some meaning with respect to dark personalities in general, but their relevance to psychopathy, as measured with the PCL-R, is tenuous at best.

Jones, D.N. & Hare, R.D. J 2016. The Mismeasure of Psychopathy: A Commentary on Boddy’s PM-MRV.
Journal of Business Ethics, 138(3), 579–588.


Authentic leadership as an antecedent of helping behaviour
Hirst and colleagues develop and test a trickle-down model of how authentic leadership at the department level flows down the organisational hierarchy to encourage team leader authentic leadership and consequently, promotes team and individual-level supervisor-directed helping behaviour.

Analyses of multi-level and multi-source data collected from a total of 487 employees comprising 122 teams, 47 departments, and 4 different working areas of a major public sector organisation in Taiwan show that team leaders’ authentic leadership mediates the relationship between departmental authentic leadership and individual-level leader–member exchange (LMX).

The researchers also found that intra-team trust completely mediates the influence of team authentic leadership on both team helping behaviour and individual-level supervisor-directed helping behaviour. Finally, the results reveal that self-concordance mediates the influence of team authentic leadership on individual-level supervisor helping behaviour as well as the influence of individual-level LMX on individual-level supervisor-directed helping behaviour. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Hirst, G., Walumbwa, F., Aryee, S. et al. 2016. A Multi-level Investigation of Authentic Leadership as an Antecedent of Helping Behavior.
Journal of Business Ethics, 139(3), 485–499.