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A Multilevel Study of Leaders’ Emotional Labor on Servant Leadership and Job Satisfaction

Emotions and Leadership

ISBN: 978-1-83867-202-7, eISBN: 978-1-83867-201-0

Publication date: 26 August 2019



This chapter provides a multilevel perspective on the impact of leaders’ emotional display and control on subordinates’ job satisfaction.


This multilevel study investigates how the association of employees’ perceived immediate leaders’ servant leadership and their job satisfaction is influenced by leaders’ emotional labor. Participants in this study included 180 employees and 40 immediate leaders from 40 groups across 16 firms. To avoid of common methods of variances, multiple ratings were employed. Servant leadership of immediate team leaders and subordinates’ job satisfaction were rated by subordinates.


The results showed the positive relationship between perceived team leaders’ creating value for community (one dimension of servant leadership) and team members’ job satisfaction is strengthened by an increase in leaders’ deep-acting of emotions, but is decreased with an increase in leaders’ surface-acting and expression of naturally felt emotions.

Research Implications

This study confirms that a team leader’s emotional labor is likely to affect team members’ job satisfaction, which is also related to employees’ perceived servant leadership. Although how leaders display their emotions in organizations has a significant influence on the association between leaders’ creating value for community and subordinates’ job satisfaction, this study did not identify the explicit mechanisms to explain why this happens.

Practical Implications

These findings will enrich the practice of leaders’ emotional management in organizations.


This chapter is the first to provide a perspective to understand leaders’ emotional labor from cross-level analysis. This study also extends our understandings of the effects of servant leadership and its relationships with subordinates’ job satisfaction through an exploration of each dimension of servant leadership on job satisfaction rather than relying on an overall measure servant leadership.



Li, Y., Mehmood, K., Zhang, X. and Crossin, C.M. (2019), "A Multilevel Study of Leaders’ Emotional Labor on Servant Leadership and Job Satisfaction", Emotions and Leadership (Research on Emotion in Organizations, Vol. 15), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 47-67.



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