Purpose – Leader empathy, ethical values, and relations‐oriented behavior all appear to be relevant for effective leadership, but nobody has examined how all three variables are jointly related to leader‐member exchange quality (LMX). The purpose of this study is to examine these relationships and test a proposed model describing them. Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected with a questionnaire from subordinates of leaders in several organizations, and SEM path analysis was used to test alternative models. Findings – The results indicated that a leader's relations‐oriented behavior fully mediated the relationship between leader empathy on LMX and partially mediated the relationship between ethical leadership and LMX. Recommendations for future research to verify and extend the results were provided. Originality/value – This is the first empirical study to simultaneously examine the complex relationships among these four different aspects of leadership (i.e. a skill, values, behaviors, and exchange relationship). The authors' measure of ethical leadership minimizes confounding with other constructs, which is a problem in earlier studies. The practical implication is that leader empathy and ethical leadership should be included in leadership selection and development programs.
Journal of Managerial Psychology – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 17, 2010
Keywords: Ethics; Leadership; Behavior