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The Importance of Empathy as a Distal Leadership Attribute in the Emergence of Leaders in Small Groups

Emotions and Leadership

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

ISSN: 1746-9791

Publication date: 26 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

To examine empathy as a trait that influences leadership behaviors, which, in turn, influence group decision-making.

Design/Methodology/Approach

This study uses an assessment center design to maximize internal validity.

Findings

The structural equation model shows that empathy strongly relates to both relationship leadership and task leadership, while cognitive ability only relates to task leadership. Both relationship leadership and task leadership exert influence over group task choice and group decisions. Thus, empathy has its major effects through influencing leader behaviors, which, in turn, have distal impacts on outcomes such as influence over decisions.

Research Limitations/Implications

The study results should be further tested in field settings.

Practical Implications

The findings suggest that organizations should recruit and promote leaders high in empathy.

Originality/Value

This is the first study to test whether leader behaviors mediate the effects of leader empathy on group decision-making.

Keywords

Citation

Humphrey, R.H., Kellett, J.B., Sleeth, R.G., Miao, C. and Qian, S. (2019), "The Importance of Empathy as a Distal Leadership Attribute in the Emergence of Leaders in Small Groups", Emotions and Leadership (Research on Emotion in Organizations, Vol. 15), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 159-175. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1746-979120190000015012

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited