Some fresh research around leadership is this week’s theme for our research tidbits.
The neuroscience of inspirational leadership
Effective leaders are believed to inspire followers by providing inclusive visions of the future that followers can identify with. In the present study, we examined the neural mechanisms underlying this process, testing key hypotheses derived from transformational and social identity approaches to leadership.
While undergoing functional MRI, supporters from the two major Australian political parties (Liberal vs. Labor) were presented with inspirational collective-oriented and noninspirational personal-oriented statements made by in-group and out-group leaders. Imaging data revealed that inspirational (rather than noninspirational) statements from in-group leaders were associated with increased activation in the bilateral rostral inferior parietal lobule, pars opercularis, and posterior midcingulate cortex: brain areas that are typically implicated in controlling semantic information processing.
In contrast, for out-group leaders, greater activation in these areas was associated with noninspirational statements. In addition, noninspirational statements by in-group (but not out-group) leaders resulted in increased activation in the medial prefrontal cortex, an area typically associated with reasoning about a person’s mental state. These results show that followers processed identical statements qualitatively differently as a function of leaders’ group membership, thus demonstrating that shared identity acts as an amplifier for inspirational leadership communication.
Pascal Molenberghs, Guy Prochilo, Niklas K. Steffens, et al. (2017). The Neuroscience of Inspirational Leadership: The Importance of Collective-Oriented Language and Shared Group Membership.
Journal of Management, 43(7), 2168-2194.
A review and synthesis of leadership process models
In organisational research, studying “processes” is important for uncovering and understanding the underlying causal mechanisms in a predictor-mediator-outcome logic. Processes answer “how” and “why” questions and provide more complete explanations about phenomena.
Our focus in this review is on studies of leadership processes, which we systematically analyse to report on the state of the science. In doing so, we present a two-dimensional target-centric taxonomy to integrate previous research: The taxonomy distinguishes the target’s level (i.e., individual follower, team, organisational, and extra-organisational) as well as the type of leadership processes that affect either the target’s development or leverage of resources.
Our review indicates that the predominantly studied leadership “meta” process model looks at the effect of leader traits or behaviours on performance-related outcomes through cognitive, affective, or behavioural leveraging factors. This “meta” model points to several important and understudied processes, including a leader’s influence on the target’s development or work context.
We also identify two largely overlooked yet critical issues for leadership process research: modelling the role of time and that of multiple processes through which leadership effects manifest themselves in organisations. Using our taxonomy, we provide several reflection points that can guide the development of genuine and thoughtful leadership process theories. We conclude by urging future leadership process research to embrace multiprocess, multilevel, and time-sensitive models.
Thomas Fischer, Joerg Dietz and John Antonakis. 2017. Leadership Process Models: A Review and Synthesis.
Journal of Management, 43(6), 1726-1753.
Varieties of transformational solutions to conflicts in ethics
It is well established within the ethics and institutional theory literatures that institutions can have conflicting logics with ethical dimensions and that there are solutions to the conflicts. Within institutional, ethics, and change leadership theory, quantitative, mixture solutions such as distributive solutions have been frequently considered.
The ethics, institutional, and change leadership theory literatures have recognised that there are qualitative transformational solutions that are different than quantitative mixture solutions. However and for the most part, with the notable exception of the Thornton et al. (Am J Sociol, 105(3):801–843, 2012) typology of solutions, the institutional, change leadership, and ethics literatures have not considered typologies of transformational solutions. And more specifically with respect to this article, the institutional, change leadership, and ethics literatures have not considered different types of transformational solutions to institutional logic conflicts with ethical dimensions.
This article: (1) develops a typology of transformational solutions; (2) applies the typology with historical examples of conflicting institutional ethics logics within factory, cultural, and institutional social change leadership cases; and, (3) considers practical and theoretical implications for institutional ethics change leadership for achieving and/or resisting different types of transformational solutions.
Richard P. Nielsen and Christi Lockwood. 2018. Varieties of Transformational Solutions to Institutional Ethics Logic Conflicts.
Journal of Business Ethics, 149(1), 45–55.
Synthesising and integrating CR on organisational and societal levels
This article develops an integrative perspective on corporate responsibility by synthesising competing perspectives on the responsibility of the corporation at the organisational and societal levels of analysis.
We review three major corporate responsibility perspectives, which we refer to as economic, critical, and politico-ethical. We analyse the major potential uses and pitfalls of the perspectives, and integrate the debate on these two levels. Our synthesis concludes that when a society has a robust division of moral labour in place, the responsibility of a corporation may be economic (as suggested under the economic perspective) without jeopardising democracy and sustainability (as reported under the critical perspective).
Moreover, the economic role of corporations neither signifies the absence of deliberative democratic mechanisms nor business practices extending beyond compliance (as called for under the politico-ethical perspective). The study underscores the value of integrating different perspectives and multiple levels of analysis to present comprehensive descriptions and prescriptions of the responsibility phenomenon.
Read this Open Access article online for free
Pasi Heikkurinen and Jukka Mäkinen. 2018. Synthesising Corporate Responsibility on Organisational and Societal Levels of Analysis: An Integrative Perspective.
Journal of Business Ethics, 149(3), 589–607.
Determining the antecedents and outcomes of servant leadership
This study utilised social consistency and social exchange theories to propose leadership motivation and self-concept variables as possible antecedents of servant leadership (SL). This is a departure from two past studies which established the leader’s behaviour, experience and personality as antecedents of SL.
The study was based on cross-sectional survey methodology, and data acquired through multi-source to minimise common method variance. Data analysis was carried out using statistical package of social sciences, and the analyses of moments of structure software. Participants were managers and their subordinates from six organisations located in Lagos, Nigeria.
Key findings of the study are self-efficacy (SE) is a critical variable because of its effect on SL and other antecedents; motivation-to-serve (MTS) is an antecedent and the primary motive for enacting SL behaviour; only one dimension of motivation-to-lead (MTL), non-calculative, is an antecedent of SL; and leader-member exchange, organisational citizenship behaviour and job satisfaction are either direct or indirect outcomes of SL.
The tested model explained more variance in the outcomes of SL. Managerial implications include the use of SE, MTS and MTL as selection tools for managers, assigning future leaders as mentees to identified servant leaders through formal mentoring process established by the organisation.
Okechukwu E Amah. 2018. Determining the antecedents and outcomes of servant leadership.
Journal of General Management, 43(3), 126-138.
When authentic and inauthentic leaders feel well
Research on authentic leadership has yielded important insights about its effects on subordinates. However, its consequences for the leaders themselves remain largely unexamined.
This is problematic, as organisations require their leaders to provide guidance and leaders’ mental well-being is a prerequisite for this. Drawing on the theories of ego-depletion and authentic leadership, we investigate the role of authentic leadership in predicting leaders’ mental well-being.
In an experience sampling study, we apply hierarchical linear modeling to analyze 396 observations from 44 executives. Our multilevel moderated mediation analyses reveal that authentic leadership reduces leaders’ stress and increases their work engagement and that these effects are mediated by leader mental depletion.
Moreover, we show that the indirect effects are contingent on the extent to which leaders interact with their subordinates: authentic leaders deplete less with increasing follower interaction, while inauthentic leaders deplete less with decreasing follower interaction.
Matthias Weiss, Stefan Razinskas, Julia Backmann and Martin Hoegl. 2018. Authentic leadership and leaders’ mental well-being: An experience sampling study.
The Leadership Quarterly, 29(2), 309-321.
Protecting older workers’ employability using transformational leadership
Demographic and labour market changes increase the need to enhance the employability of employees across all ages. The purpose of this study is to explore the role of transformational leadership in employees’ employability.
While we hypothesised that age is negatively related to perceived internal and external employability, we expected a positive relationship for transformational leadership, and that transformational leadership would moderate the relationship between age and employability. Hypotheses were tested using a sample of 1006 employees in the German automotive industry.
Results show age to be negatively related to internal and external employability, with both relationships being comparably strong. Transformational leadership was positively related to internal and external employability, with the relationship with internal employability being stronger. Moreover, transformational leadership buffered the negative relationship between age and internal employability.
These results suggest that transformational leadership is crucial in protecting lifetime employability and that it should be promoted.
Katrin Böttcher, Anne-Grit Albrecht, Laura Venz, et al. 2018. Protecting older workers’ employability: A survey study of the role of transformational leadership.
German Journal of Human Resource Management, 32(2), 120-148.