In the moral eye of the beholder: The interactive effects of leader and follower moral identity on perceptions of ethical leadership and LMX quality

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Abstract

Previous research indicated that leader moral identity (MI; i.e., leaders’ self-definition in terms of moral attributes) predicts to what extent followers perceive their leader as ethical (i.e., demonstrating and promoting ethical conduct in the organization). Leadership, however, is a relational process that involves leaders and followers. Building on this understanding, we hypothesized that follower and leader MI (a) interact in predicting whether followers will perceive their leaders as ethical and, as a result, (b) influence followers’ perceptions of leader–follower relationship quality. A dyadic field study (N = 101) shows that leader MI is a stronger predictor of followers’ perceptions of ethical leadership for followers who are high (vs. low) in MI. Perceptions of ethical leadership in turn predict how the quality of the relationship will be perceived. Hence, whether leader MI translates to perceptions of ethical leadership and of better relationship quality depends on the MI of followers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1126
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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