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Leadership through love and fear: an effective combination

Patricia C. Dahm (Orfalea College of Business, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California, USA)
Bruce E. Greenbaum (Orfalea College of Business, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 1 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how employees’ sentiments of fear and companionate love toward their leaders relate to leader effectiveness and follower loyalty.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis uses multi-level survey data (n=728) from a professional services firm. Proposed relationships are examined using multi-level modeling, polynomial regression and response surface analysis.

Findings

Companionate love moderates the relationship between fear of a leader and leader effectiveness and follower loyalty. At high levels of companionate love, leader effectiveness and loyalty increase with fear, but at low levels of companionate love, fear negatively relates to leader effectiveness and loyalty. There are diminishing returns at relatively high levels of love and fear or when love becomes relatively much greater than fear.

Research limitations/implications

Findings suggest that employees may incorporate sentiments of love and fear into their implicit leadership theories (ILTs), though the authors do not measure ILTs.

Practical implications

Leaders may consider incorporating behaviors that elicit sentiments of both love and fear for greatest follower loyalty and effectiveness.

Originality/value

This study is the first to examine the combination of sentiments of love and fear. In contrast to the extant literature, which posits that fear has primarily negative effects, the results suggest that fear may have a more nuanced relationship with perceptions of the leader.

Keywords

Citation

Dahm, P.C. and Greenbaum, B.E. (2019), "Leadership through love and fear: an effective combination", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 34 No. 5, pp. 326-338. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMP-08-2018-0346

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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