Communion, Agency, and Authenticity: How Gendered Expectations Influence Trust in Leaders
Pagan, Allyson Day
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While there are a great many benefits to increasing female numbers in leadership positions, organizations still struggle to find a place for women leaders. More research is required to examine leader skills and mechanisms through which they operate in order to facilitate women’s empowerment. The purpose of the current study was to examine leadership skills (political skill), behaviors (impression management and emotion management) and their outcomes (authentic leadership and trust in leader) in the context of gender. This study examined interpersonal emotion management as an increasingly important construct for leadership and social influence, incorporating it as an outcome of political skill and as an equally important set of behaviors as impression management. I also examined the outcome of trust in leader, which is argued to be influenced by a leader’s behaviors and the resulting follower perceptions. Finally, using role congruity theory, I argued that the relationship between leader behaviors and follower perceptions of authentic leadership was moderated by gender. This research presents several novel findings regarding leader-follower relationships. The hypothesis testing as well as supplementary SEM analyses offer support for positive relationships between followers’ perceptions of leader political skill, their perceptions of leader interpersonal emotion management behaviors, perceived authentic leadership, and trust in leader. In addition, there appears to be a moderating effect of leader gender on the relationship between interpersonal emotion management behaviors and perceived authentic leadership such that followers appear to hold certain expectations of female leaders regarding interpersonal emotion management behaviors: these results suggest that female leaders are viewed as authentic when IEM behaviors are high, no matter their selection of communal versus agentic; however, when female leaders engage in low levels of IEM behaviors, they are perceived as even less authentic than male leaders with the same level of IEM behaviors. The current study has several contributions, including the examination of understudied outcomes, the effects of specific leader behaviors, and followers as an important component of leadership theories. Lastly, this study hopes to answer recent calls for research on facilitators and barriers to female leadership empowerment (Lyness & Grotto, 2018).