A paradox perspective on the interactive effects of visionary and empowering leadership

Eric Kearney*, Meir Shemla, Daan van Knippenberg, Florian A. Scholz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In a multi-source, lagged design field study of 197 leader-follower dyads, we test a model that predicts positive interactive effects of visionary and empowering leadership on follower performance. Based on the paradox perspective, we argue that visionary and empowering leadership are synergistic in that their combination enables leaders to address a key paradox inherent to leader behavior identified by Waldman and Bowen (2016): Maintaining control while simultaneously letting go of control. We argue that visionary leadership addresses the former and empowering leadership addresses the latter pole of this pair of opposites. Hence, in line with paradox thinking, we posit that leaders will engender more positive effects on follower performance when they enact visionary and empowering leadership behaviors simultaneously and adopt a “both-and” approach, rather than focus on one of these behaviors without the other. Our results support our hypothesized interactive effect of visionary and empowering leadership on goal clarity, as well as a conditional indirect effect such that goal clarity mediates the interactive effect of visionary and empowering leadership on individual follower performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-30
Number of pages11
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume155
Early online date15 Jan 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Keywords

  • Empowering leadership
  • Goal clarity
  • Paradox
  • Performance
  • Visionary leadership

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