The leadership literature advances that vision communication is essential for leadership because it enhances follower motivation by providing a deeper meaning for one's job. However, empirical research on the relationship between visions and outcomes are mixed suggesting that moderators may be at play—and indeed moderators have been investigated in terms of follower characteristics and environmental circumstances. Yet, one crucial aspect of vision communication is overlooked: the notion that vision communication is embedded in the broader range of leadership behaviors and thus that vision communication effectiveness is dependent on how it relates to other leadership activities. In this research, we focus on leader task goal setting as a moderator of vision communication since task goal setting is strongly related to vision communication and is frequently used by leaders. Our hypotheses are based on Behavioral Integrity (BI) theory, which suggests that leaders are perceived as more effective when their words are mirrored in their deeds. In this vein, we propose that vision communication leads to better outcomes when the values communicated in a vision are aligned with values later communicated in task goals because alignment causes higher levels of BI of the leader. Results of a scenario study and a field study support these predictions and we discuss implications for research and practice, such as leadership development programs.
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We thank Inga Hoever, Hannes Leroy, Jochen Menges, Nicolas Bastardoz, Lauren Howe, and Leonie Hentrup for helpful comments and advice on earlier drafts of this article. We acknowledge Merlijn Venus, Johanna Schrögel, Vanessa Adam, and Marcia Steinhäuser for their assistance in designing the experiment and collecting the data.
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Applied Social Psychology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.