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Leadership Determinants of Trust. Sim Sitkin Fuqua School of Business Duke University. In collaboration with Allan Lind, Morela Hernandez, and Chris Long. What Influences Trust?. Various influences have been identified

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Leadership determinants of trust

Leadership Determinants of Trust

Sim Sitkin

Fuqua School of Business

Duke University

In collaboration with

Allan Lind, Morela Hernandez,

and Chris Long


What influences trust
What Influences Trust?

  • Various influences have been identified

    • Competence, benevolence, reliability, honesty, etc (e.g., Dirks & Ferrin, Avoilio and colleagues)

  • Influences are generally consistent with the kinds of things leaders “should” do

  • But the links between specific leadership behaviors and trust has remained largely unexamined

    • Often asserted, rarely tested

    • Conceptualization is often vague and atheoretical, or very broad

  • Goal is to clarify the potentially important insights for both literatures

    • Present newly developed leadership approach

    • Make the leadership-to-trust links explicit and specific

    • Present preliminary results of an early test

    • Discuss some implications


The leadership challenge
The “Leadership Challenge”

  • There is a substantial body of work on leadership, but there is not really a clear picture of what leadership is and how one can teach people to be better leaders.

  • Some scholars (e.g., Meindl, Ehrlich, & Dukerich) have even contended that leadership is not an important factor in organizational performance, that it is simply a “romanticized explanation” of more complex management and environmental factors.


How to address the challenge
How to Address the Challenge

  • Consider whether there is indeed something in the concept of leadership to theorize about, study, and teach

  • Organize our understanding of leadership and related phenomena so that we can systematically examine how leadership evolves as organizations change


Contemporary research and theory on leadership
Contemporary research and theory on leadership

  • Huge quantity and variety

  • Variable in focus and quality

    • Empirically rigorous, but more usually managerial than leadership-focused

    • Atheoretical and/or vague

    • Practitioner-oriented, but not very systematic or testable

    • Narrow, focusing on only one or two aspects of leadership

    • Theoretical, but are not very generative for rigorous scholarship or practical enough for managerial application

  • Some examples

    • Transformational leadership, Charismatic leadership, Symbolic leadership, Attribution theories of leadership, Relational leadership


A preview of approach
A preview of approach

  • Working with my colleagues Allan Lind and Chris Long (and additional colleagues, and including recent PhD students Jim Emery, Morela Hernandez, and Drew Carton), we have worked to organize and integrate this topic with an eye to empirical testing and implementation.

  • We have found ourselves incorporating & extending many elements used by other theories, but we have been most influenced by relational views of leadership and trust. Thus, today’s focus . . .

  • Before I begin presenting our theory and early results on the impact of leadership on trust, let me define it and give you a brief picture of our leadership framework.


Definition of leadership
Definition of Leadership

  • A leader is:

    • A person who influences others

    • A person who exhibits specific leadership behaviors

    • A person who accepts a leadership role and identity

  • Leadership is:

    • A set of behaviors and their effects

    • A social role

    • A perspective or identity

  • Leadership is not:

    • Formal authority or position

    • Only positive (effective leaders can pursue evil)

    • A set of traits that cannot be developed or modified or learned (“you can’t teach height” but you can teach leadership)


Leadership versus management
Leadership versus Management

  • Not about leaders vs. managers, not different people

    • Most individual roles involve elements of both leadership and management

    • But both good leadership and good management are necessary for optimal organization performance

  • Leadership is not just about top organizational heroes

    • Includes leading up, down and laterally

    • Applies to a variety of life roles – leading peers, family members, community, leading oneself


How is the approach distinctive
How is the Approach Distinctive?

  • Focus on Behavior:

  • Leadership is what you do, not just who you are. Change what you do and you can change your leadership style. Thus, the approach is testable and actionable.

  • Focus on Effects:

  • Each dimension is keyed to theorized effects of leadership behaviors.

  • Focus on Breadth and Integration:

  • Most leadership approaches focus on just a few aspects of leadership – ours tries to integrate the range of leadership dimensions – and effects.


Leadership domains
Leadership domains

ETHICAL

SUPPORTIVE

INSPIRATIONAL

RELATIONAL

CONTEXTUAL

PERSONAL


Core focus of the domains

Accepting

responsibility

Raising

optimism

& enthusiasm

Providing

resources,

feedback, and

protection

Clarifying

who we are

and how we

work together

Showing

concern and

understanding

Preparing

and projecting

who you are


Consequences of effective leadership
Consequences of effective leadership

TRUST

STEWARDSHIP

HIGH

ASPIRATION

INITIATIVE

CREDIBILITY

COMMUNITY


ETHICAL

SUPPORTIVE

INSPIRATIONAL

RELATIONAL

CONTEXTUAL

PERSONAL

Leadership domains and effects

STEWARDSHIP

HIGH

ASPIRATION

INITIATIVE

CREDIBILITY

COMMUNITY

TRUST



Definition of trust
Definition of Trust

  • Trust is a psychological state comprising the intention to accept vulnerability based on positive expectations of the intentions or behavior of another (Rousseau et al., 1998)


Foundation of the model
Foundation of the Model

  • Personal: Leadership emerges from the projection of your personal values, concerns, passions and world view.

  • Relational: Leadership is rooted in projecting concern for and understanding of others in interpersonal and inter-organizational relationships.

  • Contextual: Leadership simplifies and focuses by clarifying contexts.


Personal leadership
Personal Leadership

  • Demonstrate that you have the

  • insight and knowledge to lead to

  • success.

  • Be real; let your values and

  • personality show in your actions.

  • Make your dedication to the team--

  • and your courage in pursuing its

  • goals--evident to all.


Effective personal leadership yields
Effective personal leadership yields

CREDIBILITY


Relational leadership
Relational Leadership

  • Attend to your leader-follower

  • relationship with each

  • person you seek to lead:

    • Show concern, understanding, and respect for others.

    • Be seen as fair.


Effective relational leadership yields
Effective relational leadership yields

TRUST


Contextual Leadership

  • Create a sense of identity (pride and belonging).

  • Focus and simplify to build a sense of coherence.

    • Enhance clarity of roles and functions.



But our focus today is on leadership determinants of trust
But our focus today is on leadership determinants of trust

TRUST

What is the prediction from the

literature about what influences trust?



Arguments extrapolated from trust literature
Arguments Extrapolated from Trust Literature

  • Personal Leadership Affects Trust

    • Competence, shared values, personal interests are predictive of trust (Sitkin & Roth; Mayer et al)

    • Attribution of leadership – passion, insight (Calder)

  • Relational Leadership Affects Trust

    • Leadership as forms of relationship (Weber; Lewin; Kouzes & Posner)

    • Benevolence, caring, respect, fairness & understanding of the other (Bies; Lind & Tyler; Sitkin & Roth)

  • Contextual Leadership Affects Trust

    • Increased contextual control undermines trust in other party (Shapiro, Zucker)

    • Symbolic leadership and the importance of congruent symbols (Pfeffer; Sitkin & Stickel)

    • Without formal protection, risk of opportunistic exploitation is too high (Sitkin; Lewicki & Bunker; Bijlmsma-Frankema & Costa; Long & Sitkin)


Implicit Theoretical Model

Personal

Relational

Contextual

Trust


ETHICAL

SUPPORTIVE

INSPIRATIONAL

CONTEXTUAL

RELATIONAL

PERSONAL


Key theoretical assumption: interdependence of leadership domains

Third-Order

ETHICAL

Second-Order

SUPPORTIVE

INSPIRATIONAL

Foundation

RELATIONAL

CONTEXTUAL

PERSONAL

More personal

More structural


Leadership framework extends argument to make it more directly testable
Leadership Framework Extends Argument to Make It More Directly Testable

  • Dimensions of Leadership are Mutually Facilitative

  • Personal & Contextual Leadership Affects Trust, but only through their link to Relational Leadership

  • Direct Links of Personal and Relational to Trust implied in the literature may be spurious, as indirect routes of influence never tested


Theoretical Model Directly Testable

Personal

Relational

Contextual

Trust


Hypotheses
Hypotheses Directly Testable

  • Higher levels of Relational Leadership are associated with greater Trust in the leader (H1).

  • Personal (H2A) and Contextual (H2B) Leadership will be significantly associated with Trust.

  • Personal (H3A) and Contextual (H3B) Leadership will be significantly associated with Relational Leadership.

  • The effects of Personal (H4A) and Contextual (H4B) Leadership on Trust will be mediated by Relational Leadership.


Sample and procedure
Sample and Procedure Directly Testable

  • Participants completed the 360-degree survey online as part of executive leadership courses (n=129)

    • Weekend EMBA (n=55)

    • Cross Continent EMBA (n=52)

    • Open Enrollment (n=22)

  • Ratings supplied by supervisors, peers and direct reports (n= 700+)

  • Permission to use data for research requested, nearly all consented

  • Survey distributed & completed online (approx. 20 minutes to complete survey)

  • Participants received feedback as part of a course

  • Raters assured anonymity; ratings aggregated to preserve confidentiality of individual raters



Mdli feedback
MDLI Feedback Directly Testable


Mdli results graphics
MDLI results (graphics) Directly Testable




Some preliminary findings
Some Preliminary Findings Directly Testable

  • Today’s analysis based on data collected in July, August, September of 2003.

  • Able to clean data and create appropriate scales

  • Analyzed using structural equation models (AMOS)

  • Still consider findings to be tentative - newly redesigned variables & results in but not yet analyzed.

  • But results seem quite robust, so optimistic


Scale Reliabilities Directly Testable

“The locus of leadership . . . involvesbehaviors . . . produced by leadersas these elements areinterpreted by followers.”(Lord & Maher, 1993; p.11)

  • IV Scales created from “follower” perceptions of leader behaviors

  • DV Scales created from “follower” ratings of leader effects across three rater groups

  • Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC)

    • ICC useful for determining the extent to which variance of individual responses are attributed to group membership

    • ICC assesses reliable differentiation between groups (Bliese et al., 2002; Castro, 2002)

    • ICC especially useful if between group variability is potentially theoretically important and requires detailed examination

  • Supervisors + Peers + Direct Reports: ICC = .862

  • Peers + Direct Reports: ICC = .723


Independent variables
Independent Variables Directly Testable

  • Personal Leadership Behavior (α = .80)

    • Authenticity - Creativity

    • Vision - Passion & Courage

    • Expertise

  • Relational Leadership Behavior (α = .81)

    • Concern

    • Respect

    • Reliability

  • Contextual Leadership Behavior (α = .77)

    • Coherence

    • Coordination

    • Identity


Personal leadership behavior 80
Personal Leadership Directly TestableBehavior(α = .80)

  • Authenticity

    • Lets you know what he/she is really like.

    • Lives his/her values.

    • They are who they appear to be.

  • Vision

    • Provides a clear vision for the organization or unit.

    • Formulates clear goals.

    • Articulates where the organization/unit is going.

  • Expertise

    • Really understands our work.

    • Is smart about what we do.

    • Has deep expertise.

  • Creativity

    • Finds innovative solutions to business problems.

    • Is open to exploring new ideas.

    • Thinks outside the box.

  • Passion and Courage

    • Is passionate about the work we do.

    • Displays courage in the face of uncertainty.

    • Is not afraid to show his/her feelings.

    • Is not afraid of being wrong.

    • Is committed to doing what he/she thinks is right.


Relational leadership behavior 81
Relational Leadership Behavior Directly Testable(α = .81)

  • Concern

    • Displays concern for me.

    • Is sensitive to my needs.

    • Cares about my priorities and interests.

    • Is interested in understanding me.

    • Shows compassion.

  • Respect

    • Shows respect for people regardless of their level in the organization.

    • Makes an effort to seek out others' opinions on important issues.

    • Takes the time to explain decisions.

    • Is a good listener.


Contextual leadership behavior 77
Contextual Leadership Directly TestableBehavior(α = .77)

  • Coherence

    • Makes sure his/her employees understand business issues.

    • Promotes a shared understanding about complex issues.

    • Cuts through complex or ambiguous problems to make them easier to understand.

    • Explains why things are being done a particular way.

  • Coordination

    • Helps coordinate actions of unit or organization.

    • Resolves conflicts constructively.

    • Creates processes that facilitate the work.

    • Ensures that we take the needs of others into account as we do our work.

    • Makes clear how responsibilities are being divided.


Dependent variables leadership effects
Dependent Variables: Leadership Effects Directly Testable

  • Personal Leadership: LOYALTY (α = .86 )

    • I feel loyal to ____.

    • ____ can depend on me.

    • I would go out of my way to help ____ if he/she asked me to.

  • Relational Leadership: TRUST (α = .80 )

    • I trust ____ to be fair.

    • ____ deals fairly with me.

    • ____ is unbiased in his/her decisions.

  • Contextual Leadership: COMMUNITY (α = .87 )

    • We are like family.

    • People here are concerned with the success of the whole organization.

    • I feel like I’m really part of the team around here.

    • In this organization, we know we can depend on each other.

    • Being a good organizational citizen is part of our organization culture.


Hypotheses1
Hypotheses Directly Testable

  • Higher levels of Relational Leadership are associated with greater Trust in the leader (H1).

  • Personal (H2A) and Contextual (H2B) Leadership will be significantly associated with Trust.

  • Personal (H3A) and Contextual (H3B) Leadership will be significantly associated with Relational leadership.

  • The effects of Personal (H4A) and Contextual (H4B) Leadership on Trust will be mediated by Relational leadership.


Theoretical Model Directly Testable

Personal

Relational

Contextual

Trust


Statistical methods
Statistical Methods Directly Testable

  • Structural Equation Model Analyses (AMOS 5.0 in conjunction with SPSS 11.5)

  • 4 models are presented

  • Standardized Regression Weights are shown

  • Details (error terms etc) are not shown on models to simplify display for readability

  • Model Fit Indices TLI and CFI were considered

  • This is still very much a work in progress


Model Directly Testable

e1

e2

e3

e4

e5

e6

e7

e8

e9

Vision

Creativity

Expertise

Passion

Authenticity

Respect

Concern

Coordination

Coherence

e10

e11

e12

Relational Ldrshp

Contextual Ldrshp

Personal Ldrshp

e13

TRUST


Direct Effects Test of Trust Literature Directly Testable

Relational Ldrshp

Contextual Ldrshp

Personal Ldrshp

.34**

.45***

.26*

TRUST

Model Fit: TLI = .54; CFI = .66


Direct Effects Test of Trust Literature Directly Testable

Relational Ldrshp

Contextual Ldrshp

Personal Ldrshp

.45***

.34**

.26*

TRUST

Model Fit: TLI = .54; CFI = .66

  • Significance consistent with trust literature (H1, H2A & H2B)

  • Fit of model based on literature is quite low.


Test of Hypothesized Mediated Model Directly Testable

r = .87

Personal Ldrshp

Relational Ldrshp

Contextual Ldrshp

.35**

.62***

.78*

ns

ns

TRUST

Model Fit: TLI = .91; CFI = .94


Test of Hypothesized Mediated Model Directly Testable

r = .87

Personal Ldrshp

Relational Ldrshp

Contextual Ldrshp

.35**

.62***

.78*

ns

ns

TRUST

Model Fit: TLI = .91; CFI = .94

  • Personal & Contextual Leadership significantly associated with

  • Relational Leadership (H3A & H3B)

  • Direct effects predicted by trust literature mediated, as predicted

  • (H4A & H4B)

  • Fit of model substantially improved & quite high.


Results of hypothesis tests
Results of Hypothesis Tests Directly Testable

  • Higher levels of Relational Leadership are associated with greater Trust in the leader (H1). SUPPORTED

  • Personal (H2A) and Contextual (H2B) Leadership will be significantly associated with Trust. SUPPORTED WHEN EXAMINED IN ISOLATION; REJECTED WHEN MODELLED MORE COMPLETELY

  • Personal (H3A) and Contextual (H3B) Leadership will be significantly associated with Relational Leadership. SUPPORTED

  • The effects of Personal (H4A) and Contextual (H4B) Leadership on Trust will be mediated by Relational leadership.

    H4A. SUPPORTED

    H4B. SUPPORTED


Implications of hypothesis tests
Implications of Hypothesis Tests Directly Testable

  • H1 and H2: All three foundational dimensions appear to be determinants of trust if examined independently.

  • Personal and Contextual Leadership were found to be significantly associated with Relational Leadership (H3A and H3B)

  • Relational Leadership is a key determinant of Trust.

    As a direct determinant of Trust (H1)

    Personal and Contextual Leadership effects on Trust are mediated (H4A and H4B) by Relational Leadership.


Including Self Ratings Directly Testable

“The locus of leadership is not solely in a leader or solely in follower. Instead, it involves behaviors . . . produced by leaders as these elements are interpreted by followers.”

(Lord & Maher, 1993; p.11)

Although our theoretical focus was based on “follower” reactions to leadership behavior (focusing on effects, not just leader attributes), we wanted to examine whether self ratings of leaders matched the ratings of “followers” and whether leader self perceptions predicted “follower” trust in the leader.


Examining Trust Predictions with Self Ratings Directly Testable

Personal Ldrshp (Self)

Relational Ldrshp (Self)

Contextual Ldrshp (Self)

ns

.12**

ns

Model Fit: TLI = .30; CFI = .58

TRUST


Examining Trust Predictions with Self Ratings Directly Testable

Personal Ldrshp (Self)

Relational Ldrshp (Self)

Contextual Ldrshp (Self)

ns

.12**

ns

  • Self ratings of leadership behavior are distinct from others’ rating, are less predictive of trust, & have terrible model fit.

  • Could they have effects through others’ perceptions of leadership?

Model Fit: TLI = .30; CFI = .58

TRUST


Do Self Ratings Have an Indirect Effect on Trust? Directly Testable

r = .88

r = .78

r = .69

Personal Ldrshp (Self)

Relational Ldrshp (Self)

Contextual Ldrshp (Self)

ns

ns

ns

.21**

.18*

ns

Personal Ldrshp (Others)

Relational Ldrshp (Others)

Contextual Ldrshp (Others)

.54***

.67***

.66**

ns

ns

TRUST

Model Fit: TLI = .75 ; CFI = .81


Do Self Ratings Have an Indirect Effect on Trust? Directly Testable

Relational Ldrshp (Self)

Personal Ldrshp (Self)

Contextual Ldrshp (Self)

.21**

.18*

Personal Ldrshp (Others)

Relational Ldrshp (Others)

Contextual Ldrshp (Others)

.54***

.67***

.66**

  • Results are consistent with an indirect effect, but . . .

  • Why the striking relational

  • leadership gap?

TRUST

Model Fit: TLI = .75 ; CFI = .81


Self and other perceptions of relational leadership behavior
Self and Other Perceptions of Relational Leadership Behavior Directly Testable

  • Familiar social psychology finding of a gap between self perception of how fair, concerned, understanding, etc we are compared with how others see us (e.g., Messick et al,“Why we are fairer than others” JESP, 1985 )

  • Why observe in this situation?

    • Possible that relational leadership behaviors are harder to discern

    • Possible that we are not as relationally positive as we think

    • Possible that we are but are lousy at projecting our concern or our efforts

  • But could self perceived relational leadership behavior still have an indirect effect on trust via other self perceptions?


e1 Directly Testable

e2

e3

e4

e5

e6

e7

e8

e9

Vision

Creativity

Expertise

Passion

Authenticity

Respect

Concern

Coordination

Coherence

e10

Personal Ldrshp (self)

Relational Ldrshp (self)

Contextual Ldrshp (self)

e11

e12

e13

e14

e15

e16

e17

e18

e19

Vision

Creativity

Expertise

Passion

Authenticity

Respect

Concern

Coordination

Coherence

e20

e21

e22

Relational Ldrshp (other)

Contextual Ldrshp (other)

Personal Ldrshp (other)

e23

TRUST

Full Model


.94*** Directly Testable

.85***

Personal Ldrshp (Self)

Relational Ldrshp (Self)

Contextual Ldrshp (Self)

ns

ns

ns

.22**

.18*

ns

Contextual Ldrshp (Others)

Personal Ldrshp (Others)

Relational Ldrshp (Others)

.56***

.69***

.65**

ns

ns

TRUST

Model Fit: TLI = .73; CFI = .80


.94*** Directly Testable

.85***

Personal Ldrshp (Self)

Relational Ldrshp (Self)

Contextual Ldrshp (Self)

.22**

.18*

Contextual Ldrshp (Others)

Personal Ldrshp (Others)

Relational Ldrshp (Others)

.56***

.69***

.65**

TRUST

Model Fit: TLI = .73; CFI = .80


Results of hypothesis tests1
Results of Hypothesis Tests Directly Testable

  • Higher levels of Relational Leadership are associated with greater Trust in the leader (H1). SUPPORTED

  • Personal (H2A) and Contextual (H2B) Leadership will be significantly associated with Trust. SUPPORTED WHEN EXAMINED IN ISOLATION; REJECTED WHEN MODELLED MORE COMPLETELY

  • Personal (H3A) and Contextual (H3B) Leadership will be significantly associated with Relational Leadership. SUPPORTED

  • The effects of Personal (H4A) and Contextual (H4B) Leadership on Trust will be mediated by Relational leadership.

    H4A. SUPPORTED

    H4B. SUPPORTED


Implications of exploration of self versus others perception of leadership
Implications of Exploration of Self versus Others’ Perception of Leadership

  • Leader self perceptions do not directly affect trust – but seem to have an indirect effect (sometimes very indirect) via others’ perceptions of leader behaviors

  • Followers’ perceptions of personal and contextual leadership behaviors appear to affect trust through followers’ perceptions of relational leadership behavior

  • Perceived relational leadership is the key to influences on trust in leaders

  • The relationship between self perceptions of leadership behavior and follower perceptions is not uniform – gap seems to be in the relational leadership dimension.


Builds on existing theory
Builds on existing theory Perception of Leadership

  • Consistent with trust, justice and leadership literatures

  • Provides more systematic theoretical framework for linking leadership to trust through specific influencing actions

    Competence and other personal attributes

    Relational features of fair treatment, consideration, respect, benevolence

    Structural features can enable but only through their relational effects


Additional implications future directions
Additional Implications/Future Directions Perception of Leadership

  • Leadership behavior can be systematically broken down and its effects on trust tested.

  • Leadership behavior does appear to be a significant influence on trust.

  • Examine what does not affect trust, as well as what does

    Does contextual leadership behavior really not affect trust if relational features are controlled?

  • Test more complex, embedded models of how trust arises and is influenced by leaders

    Specific behaviors, not just broader dimensions

    Different organizational and cultural conditions

    Different leader attributes

  • Test other effects in the leadership model


Conclusion and next steps
Conclusion and Next Steps Perception of Leadership

  • Book under development

  • Have tightened measures & tests, coupling with experimental studies

  • Will examine rest of model

  • Articles on specific tests and applications

    AMR piece in development on theory

    Under development on domain effects, crisis, organizational founding, and co-leadership, etc

  • Case studies and instructional materials

    Practitioner pieces & cases

    Improve measurement instruments

  • Longitudinal field & lab data collection on perceived behavior – plus “hard” performance and behavior measures


Duke Leadership Research Program: Perception of LeadershipAdditional Studies In ProgressSim Sitkin, Allan Lind, and ColleaguesFuqua School of BusinessDuke UniversityWinter, 2006


Leadership behaviors as determinants of specific and distinct follower responses

Leadership Behaviors as Determinants of Specific and Distinct Follower Responses

Sim Sitkin & Allan Lind


ETHICAL Distinct Follower Responses

SUPPORTIVE

INSPIRATIONAL

RELATIONAL

CONTEXTUAL

PERSONAL

Leadership domains and effects

STEWARDSHIP

HIGH

ASPIRATION

INITIATIVE

CREDIBILITY

COMMUNITY

TRUST


Leadership determinants of raised aspirations

Leadership Determinants of Raised Aspirations Distinct Follower Responses

Sim Sitkin, Jim Emery, Drew Carton, & Allan Lind


Initial model for aspirations
Initial Model for Aspirations Distinct Follower Responses

Aspirations

  • Elements of Inspirational Leadership

    • High standards, enthusiasm, confidence

  • Initial Results

    • Supported, but fit could be improved

    • Path coefficient = .781, p<.001*

    • RMSEA .107, CLI = .83

PERSONAL

Inspirational

* 263 observations of 61 leaders, SEM results adjusted for non-independence of observations using Cluster option in MPlus Version 3.13


Additional work on aspirations
Additional Work on Aspirations Distinct Follower Responses

Aspirations

INSPIRATIONAL

PERSONAL

RELATIONAL

  • Initial Results

    • Individually, all 3 dimensions have positive and significant path coefficients predicting Aspirations, but

    • Only Inspirational remains positive and significant when all three dimensions are included in the SEM model


Gender and leadership the effect of mental models at different hierarchical levels

Gender and Leadership: The Effect of Mental Models at Different Hierarchical Levels

Ashleigh Rosette, Leigh Tost,

Morela Hernandez, & Sim Sitkin


Gender differences in leadership
Gender Differences in Leadership Different Hierarchical Levels

  • Research Goals:

    • Examine the ways that women top leaders may express gender biases toward their same-sex colleagues;

    • Understand that potential rivalries may exist among elite women;

    • Advance this area of inquiry beyond the search for general trends in gender-based biases that persist across actors

  • Hypotheses:

    • At the lower and middle levels of organizational hierarchy, women demonstrate an ingroup bias by favoring their women peers in their evaluations.

    • However, at the top levels of organizational hierarchy, women demonstrate a bias against their female peers because the tokenism situations that are present in the highest levels of most organizations lead women to focus on perceived threat when considering peer women senior executives.


Study 1 sample and procedure
Study 1: Sample and Procedure Different Hierarchical Levels

  • Participants completed the 360-degree survey online as part of 2005-2006 executive leadership courses (N=61)

    • 40 men; 21 women

    • 36 were identified as top leaders and 24 were identified as middle managers

  • Ratings supplied by 227 work peers (156 men; 71 women)

  • Consent obtained from nearly all students

  • Survey distributed & completed online; approx. 20 min.

  • Participants received feedback as part of a course

  • Raters assured anonymity; ratings aggregated to preserve confidentiality of individual raters

  • The study consisted of a 2 (leader gender: male, female) x 2 (organizational level: top leader, middle manager) x 2 (rater gender: male, female) between-subjects factorial design


Study 1 variables
Study 1: Variables Different Hierarchical Levels

  • IV’s

  • Organizational level:

    • The raters’ position or rank within the company was coded into a dichotomous variable: Top managers and Middle managers

  • DV’s

  • Leadership Effectiveness: Relationship-oriented and task-oriented behaviors, relational and personal leadership, respectively.

    • Relational leadershipbehaviors ( = .86).

    • Concern, Respect, and Fairness

    • Personal leadership behaviors ( = .85).

    • Vision, Competence, and Creativity.


Figure 1 Different Hierarchical Levels.

Mean ratings of leader effectiveness (personal leadership and relational leadership) by organizational level, leader gender, and rater gender.


Gender differences in leadership1
Gender Differences in Leadership Different Hierarchical Levels

  • Results, confirmed predictions:

    • Compared with women middle managers, women top leaders evaluated their work peers more negatively.

    • This difference in evaluations was not observed between men top leaders and men middle managers.

    • Negative evaluations only occurred when competition amongst the women top leaders was perceived to be high (as in Study 1) or when it was explicitly manipulated as high (as in Study 2).

  • Implication: Managers and executives should be aware of how tokenism may negatively influence women leaders and how it may cause their perspectives to differ substantially from that of their male colleagues.


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