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New Publication on Leader/Follower Traits and Leader Evaluations of Followers' Behavior

Published: 13-10-2021

Antje Schmitt, Deanne den Hartog, and Frank Belschak published a paper on the interplay of leader and follower traits to predict leader evaluations of followers’ proactive work behavior.

The article (open access) can be found here.



This study investigates the relationship between leaders’ neuroticism and their evaluation of the desirability of followers’ proactive behaviour. We argue that leaders high in neuroticism are likely to evaluate follower proactivity as less desirable and that this relationship is amplified when followers are low in conscientiousness and agreeableness. Based on trait activation theory, we further propose that worry and threat act as underlying mechanisms of the interaction between these traits. We hypothesize that leaders high in neuroticism feel more threatened by the proactive behaviours shown by followers’ low in conscientiousness and agreeableness and rate the proactive behaviours of these followers as less desirable. In a field study with 205 leader–follower dyads (Study 1), we found the expected interaction effect. Leaders’ neuroticism interacted with their followers’ conscientiousness and agreeableness to predict their evaluation of the desirability of followers’ proactive behaviour. Study 2, an experimental vignette study, suggests a moderated indirect effect through the experience of threat, but not worry. We found no direct effects of leader neuroticism on the desirability ratings of followers’ proactive behaviour. This research emphasizes the value of investigating the interplay between leader and follower traits and the underlying cognitive-emotional processes for leader evaluations of followers’ proactivity.