To examine empathy as a trait that influences leadership behaviors, which, in turn, influence group decision-making.
This study uses an assessment center design to maximize internal validity.
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.
The study results should be further tested in field settings.
The findings suggest that organizations should recruit and promote leaders high in empathy.
This is the first study to test whether leader behaviors mediate the effects of leader empathy on group decision-making.
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
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