The interplay of servant leadership behaviors and Machiavellianism on perceived leader effectiveness

Lin Xiu*, Feng Lv, Dirk van Dierendonck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: This paper aims to examine the influence of the interplay between servant leadership behaviors and Machiavellianism on leader effectiveness. Design/methodology/approach: Drawing on trait activation theory and motivation to lead theory, the authors hypothesize that the effect of servant leadership behaviors on perceived leadership effectiveness is manifested differently in teams with high-Machiavellian vs. low-Machiavellian leaders. In teams with low-Machiavellian leaders, servant leadership behaviors are expected to be associated with a cooperative way of handling team conflicts, which enhances employees' leader effectiveness ratings. In contrast, in teams with high-Machiavellian leaders, this mediation role vanishes due to the incongruency between Machiavellian traits and the cooperative context. The authors conducted a two-wave survey-based study and tested the hypotheses with a matched supervisor-employee sample from 310 employees and their leaders in 91 teams. Findings: The results showed that servant leadership behaviors positively impact leadership effectiveness and that this effect takes place through cooperative team conflict management (TCM) without controlling for leaders' Machiavellian trait. Further analysis shows this mediation mechanism is only strong and significant in teams led by low-Machiavellian leaders, but not high-Machiavellian leaders. Originality/value: To the authors’ best knowledge, this is the first study that examines the interplay of servant leadership behaviors and Machiavellianism on perceived leader effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Management and Business Economics
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Lin Xiu, Feng Lv and Dirk van Dierendonck.

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