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Leader humility, leader authenticity and informal learning: how humble team leaders model everyday workplace learning

Michele Rigolizzo (Department of Management, School of Business, Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey, USA)
Zhu Zhu (Department of Management, Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey, USA)
Jean-François Harvey (Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, HEC Montréal, Montréal, Canada)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 26 July 2022

Issue publication date: 12 October 2022

1074

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to empirically examine the relationship between the leader characteristic of humility and the informal learning of team members. It also evaluates the role of leader authenticity in mediating that relationship.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected on 518 salespeople reporting to 66 managers in a time-lagged study of a financial services firm. Generalized structural equation modeling was used to analyze the data and test a multi-hierarchical mediation model.

Findings

Leader humility has a significant positive direct and indirect effect on individual informal learning in team contexts, and leader authenticity partially mediates this relationship.

Research limitations/implications

This study advances research on how leaders can help transform learning from a risky endeavor to a daily practice. It shows the impact of the leadership characteristic of humility and explains how humble behaviors provide a model for individual learning in team contexts. It also reveals that leader authenticity is a key mechanism through which leader humility comes to influence employees’ informal learning within work teams.

Originality/value

This study provides empirical support for the importance of leader humility in engendering the trust required for employees to engage in everyday workplace learning. It integrates social information processing theory with social learning theory to show that humble leaders provide critical information about the value, cost and methods of individual informal learning in team contexts. Leader humility increases employees’ beliefs that they can and do learn from working in teams because employees perceive the humble leader’s behaviors as representing the leader’s true intentions.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Thank you to Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC), grant # 2019- NP-252530 for partial funding of this research. 

Citation

Rigolizzo, M., Zhu, Z. and Harvey, J.-F. (2022), "Leader humility, leader authenticity and informal learning: how humble team leaders model everyday workplace learning", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 34 No. 8, pp. 691-706. https://doi.org/10.1108/JWL-01-2022-0010

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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