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Leader emotional expressivity, visionary leadership, and organizational change

Kevin S. Groves (College of Business and Economics, California State University, Los Angeles, California, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 1 October 2006



This study set out to empirically investigate the direct effects of leader emotional expressivity on visionary leadership, as well as the moderating effect of leader emotional expressivity on the relationship between visionary leadership and organizational change magnitude.


Cross‐sectional data from 108 senior organizational leaders and 325 of their direct followers were collected from 64 organizations across numerous industries. Leaders completed measures of emotional expressivity and organizational change magnitude, while followers provided ratings of visionary leadership, leadership effectiveness, and organizational change magnitude.


Consistent with expectations, leader emotional expressivity was strongly related to visionary leadership, while leader emotional expressivity moderated the relationship between visionary leadership and organizational change magnitude. Visionary leaders with high emotional expressivity skills facilitated the greatest organizational changes in their respective organizations.

Research limitations/implications

The cross‐sectional research design precludes causal conclusions among the variables of interest, and also suggests the possibility of reverse causality such that perceptions of organizational change may have influenced ratings of visionary leadership.

Practical implications

Managerial selection, promotion, and development practices would benefit from focused assessments of senior leaders' emotional communication and visionary leadership skills.


While prior research includes mostly laboratory studies that manipulate visionary leadership and emotional expressiveness using trained actors, the present study examined a diverse range of senior leaders and their followers from numerous organizations. Addressing a neglected stream of research, findings also demonstrate much needed support for the interactive effects of emotional expressivity and visionary leadership on organizational change magnitude.



Groves, K.S. (2006), "Leader emotional expressivity, visionary leadership, and organizational change", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 27 No. 7, pp. 566-583.



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