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The relationship between leader self-deprecating humor and perceived effectiveness: Trust in leader as a mediator

Panagiotis Gkorezis (Department of Economics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece)
Victoria Bellou (Department of Economics, University of Thessaly (UTH), Volos, Greece)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 5 September 2016




Recent years have seen an increasing interest in leader’s use of humor among organizational scholars. In this regard, leader positive humor has been shown to be related to leader effectiveness. However, to date there is limited theoretical and empirical attention regarding the relationship between self-deprecating humor in particular and leadership effectiveness. As such, the purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of leader’s self-deprecating humor on follower’s perceptions of leader effectiveness. In doing so, the authors also encompassed trust in leader as a mediator.


Data were collected from three different samples. The authors examined the hypotheses using hierarchical regression, bootstrapping analysis and Sobel test.


Results produced consistent evidence that the use of self-deprecating humor by the leader positively affects his/her perceived effectiveness and that this relationship is partially mediated by trust in leader.

Research limitations/implications

A main limitation of the present research relates to its cross-sectional design that cannot infer causality. In addition, data were gathered from a single source. As such, this may raise the possibility of common method bias.


The present paper contributes to the limited theoretical and empirical organizational research regarding the role of leader self-deprecating humor. More specifically, this is the first study, to the best of authors’ knowledge that links this type of humor to his/her effectiveness.



Gkorezis, P. and Bellou, V. (2016), "The relationship between leader self-deprecating humor and perceived effectiveness: Trust in leader as a mediator", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 37 No. 7, pp. 882-898.



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