Just What You Need: the Complementary Effect of Leader Proactive Personality and Team Need for Approval

Abstract

Drawing from the performance requirement matching perspective of leadership effectiveness (Zaccaro, Green, Dubrow, & Kolze, 2018), the current study investigates how leader proactive personality and team need for approval interactively relate to team commitment and subsequent team performance. We hypothesize that the positive effect of leader proactive personality on team commitment is strengthened when teams have high need for approval. Further, we expect team commitment to transmit the interactive effect between leader proactive personality and team need for approval on team performance. Survey data collected from 80 team leaders and 395 members supported the proposed mediated moderation model. Specifically, in teams with high need for approval, leader proactive personality positively predicted team commitment, which subsequently predicted team performance. In contrast, in teams with low need for approval, leader proactive personality had nonsignificant relationship with team commitment. Overall, the current findings highlight the theoretical importance of understanding leader-team complementarity and underscore the need to recognize team need for approval composition as a context that bounds the influence of leader proactivity. The present study also offers actionable input for team selection and assessment.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Operationalization in the original Thematic Apperception Test captured a concern to seek and maintain others’ positive appraisal of oneself (Hill, 1987).

  2. 2.

    The majority of teams (N = 77) showed at least moderate agreement on team commitment; rWG(J) ranged from .57 to 1.00. Removal of the three teams (4%) that failed to come to agreement, as indicated by rWG(J) values below the .30 cutoff (LeBreton & Senter, 2008), did not change the results of hypothesis testing. We retained all 80 teams in the main analysis thanks to a suggestion by an anonymous reviewer.

  3. 3.

    A MSEM with item parcels as input (results available from the first author) yielded similar support for the study hypotheses.

  4. 4.

    The concern over common method bias is somewhat mitigated because the mediator, team commitment, was rated by team members.

  5. 5.

    In an unrelated data collection of employees in China (N = 262), we found a moderate association between proactive personality and dominance, r = .34, p < .001.

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Huang, J.L., Liao, C., Li, Y. et al. Just What You Need: the Complementary Effect of Leader Proactive Personality and Team Need for Approval. J Bus Psychol 35, 421–434 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-019-09635-w

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Keywords

  • Proactive personality
  • Leader-team complementarity
  • Need for approval
  • Team commitment
  • Team performance