Are leaders defined by followers? Role of follower’s ILT and the mediating influence of LMX on follower outcomes

Doug L Rahn (Department of Administration, Passavant Area Hospital, Jacksonville, Illinois, United States.)
I.M. Jawahar (Department of Management & Quantitative Methods, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, United States.)
Alex J. Scrimpshire (Department of Management, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, United States.)
Thomas Stone (Department of Management, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, United States.)

Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance

ISSN: 2051-6614

Publication date: 14 March 2016

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to cast followers in an active role, and proposes a research model in which follower’s implicit leadership theory (ILT) congruence (ILT congruence) influences perceptions of transformational leadership (TL) and the quality of leader-member exchange (LMX) relationship. In addition, the authors expect LMX to mediate the influence of ILT congruence and TL on outcomes.

Design/methodology/approach

The research model was tested with data collected at three different points in time from 210 newly hired employees. Results of structural equation modeling provided strong support for the overall model.

Findings

This study focussed on extending the understanding of leader-follower relationships. First, ILTs measured on the first day of employment shaped new entrants’ perceptions of TL measured 30 days after date of hire. Second, both ILT congruence and TL influenced the quality of LMX measured approximately 90 days from followers’ date of hire. As expected, LMX fully mediated the influence of ILT congruence and perceptions of TL on the dependent variables of turnover intentions, organizational identification and perceived organizational support (POS).

Practical implications

Organizations should focus on measuring and developing LMX quality during the early phases of a follower’s socialization into the organization. Consistent with other research (Erdogan and Liden, 2002), LMX was a significant predictor of turnover intentions, organizational identification, and POS. Given the cost of turnover, organizations focussed on developing high quality LMX relationships could realize dramatic results.

Originality/value

This study extends prior research by showing LMX fully mediates the influence of followers’ ILTs and transformational leader behaviors on POS, organizational identification and turnover intentions. By using data collected at three points in time from new employees, the authors demonstrated the effect of ILT congruence on the early development of LMX. Additionally, the results showed high ILT congruence leads followers to perceive their leaders as more transformational. Finally, data show the effects of ILT congruence and TL perceptions on turnover intentions, POS and organizational identification were fully mediated by LMX.

Keywords

Citation

Rahn, D., Jawahar, I., Scrimpshire, A. and Stone, T. (2016), "Are leaders defined by followers? Role of follower’s ILT and the mediating influence of LMX on follower outcomes", Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 43-69. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOEPP-04-2015-0016

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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