Motivated Interpersonal Emotion Regulation in Leadership
Walsh, Julianna Jasmin
MetadataShow full item record
Emotions are important and prevalent workplace phenomena. Previous research has found that emotions can impact different workplace-related outcomes, from increasing employee performance to increasing employee well-being (Barsade & Gibson, 2007). Leaders are expected to engage in interpersonal emotion regulation (IER) strategies that influence their followers’ emotions to facilitate these outcomes. However, little is known about this process. Leaders might have different motives for regulating followers’ emotions, such as to help them learn a skill, to be compassionate with them, or to push them to get work done. Additionally, they might target specific emotions depending on that intention and, in turn, might engage in different IER strategies to elicit the desired emotions in their follower. This research took a self-regulatory approach to leader-follower IER to examine the hierarchical relationship between leader motives in IER and desired emotions for followers, or emotion goals, and the relationship between emotion goals and IER strategies. A leader’s emotional intelligence (EI) was expected to moderate both of these links, such that higher EI leads to better selection of emotion goals for followers based on motive, and in turn more effective selection of IER strategies to facilitate emotion goals. Study 1 used archival data to qualitatively examine the prevalence of the expected motives in leader-follower interactions. Consistent with expectations, coaching, compassion, and instrumentality were the most prevalent motives experienced by leaders. Study 2 collected data from a field sample to investigate how each motive was related to certain emotion goals, and how each of those emotion goals was related to IER strategies all within the context of a hypothetical leadership scenario. Emotion goals for two of the three included motives were significantly predicted consistent with expectations and IER strategies perceived to be effective at eliciting those desired emotions were identified. Implications for theory and practice, study limitations, and suggestions for future research are discussed.