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Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Impact of Leader Moral Humility on Follower Moral Self-Efficacy and Behavior

Owens, B. P., Yam, K. C., Bednar, J. S., Mao, J., & Hart, D. W.
Journal of Applied Psychology. (2018)


This study utilizes social–cognitive theory, humble leadership theory, and the behavioral ethics literature to theoretically develop the concept of leader moral humility and its effects on followers. Specifically, we propose a theoretical model wherein leader moral humility and follower implicit theories about morality interact to predict follower moral efficacy, which in turn increases follower prosocial behavior and decreases follower unethical behavior. We furthermore suggest that these effects are strongest when followers hold an incremental implicit theory of morality (i.e., believing that one’s morality is malleable). We test and find support for our theoretical model using two multiwave studies with Eastern (Study 1) and Western (Study 2) samples. Furthermore, we demonstrate that leader moral humility predicts follower moral efficacy and moral behaviors above and beyond the effects of ethical leadership and leader general humility.

Here is the conclusion:

We introduced the construct of leader moral humility and theorized its effects on followers. Two studies with samples from both Eastern and Western cultures provided empirical support that leader moral humility enhances followers’ moral self-efficacy, which in turn leads to increased prosocial behavior and decreased unethical behavior. We further demonstrated that these effects depend on followers’ implicit theories of the malleability of morality. More important, we found that these effects were above and beyond the influences of general humility, ethical leadership, LMX, and ethical norms of conduct, providing support for the theoretical and practical importance of this new leadership construct. Our model is based on the general proposal that we need followers who believe in and leaders who model ongoing moral development. We hope that the current research inspires further exploration regarding how leaders and followers interact to shape and facilitate a more ethical workplace.

The article is here.
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