We investigated whether the congruence between (a) a leader’s perceptions of an actual follower and (b) that leader’s implicit perception of a generalized follower (leaders’ implicit followership theory, IFT), both measured at Time 1, would predict five outcomes measured 10 weeks later at Time 2. These included four outcomes assessed by leaders (leader-member exchange, perceptions of followers’ in-role performance, followers’ organizational citizenship behaviors, and followers’ counterproductive work behaviors) and two outcomes assessed by followers (leader-member exchange and abusive supervision). Polynomial regressions based on 230 workplace leader-follower dyads supported most of the hypotheses. Supporting follower categorization theory, we found that the congruence line between leaders’ positive IFTs (positive expectations) and their positive perceptions about an actual follower was positively related to leader- and follower-rated leader-member exchange and leader-rated in-role performance. As a result, we recommend training programs in IFTs for both leaders and followers to educate them about composition of IFTs, to raise awareness regarding how IFTs are compared to actual followers, and to inform followers about how this comparison affects leaders’ assessment of followers.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Bartlett, F. C. (1932). Remembering: A study in experimental and social psychology. Cambridge, England, Cambridge University Press.
Baumeister, R. F., Bratslavsky, E., Finkenauer, C., & Vohs, K. D. (2001). Bad is stronger than good. Review of General Psychology, 5, 323–370. https://doi.org/10.1037//1089-2618.104.22.1683.
Bennett, R. J., & Robinson, S. L. (2000). Development of a measure of workplace deviance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85, 349–360. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.85.3.349.
Bernerth, J. B., Armenakis, A. A., Feild, H. S., Giles, W. F., & Jack Walker, H. (2007). Is personality associated with perceptions of LMX? An empirical study. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 28, 613–631.
Bolino, M. C. (1999). Citizenship and impression management: Good soldiers or good actors? Academy of Management Review, 24, 82–98.
Braun, S., Stegmann, S., Junker, N., & Van Dick, R. (2014). Age and gender bias in implicit followership theory. In SY, T. (Chair), Implicit leadership and followership theories: New developments. Symposium presented at the 29th Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Honolulu, HI.
Behrend, T. S., Sharek, D. J., Meade, A. W., & Wiebe, E. N. (2011). The viability of crowdsourcing for survey research. Behavior Research Methods, 43, 800–813. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-011-0081-0.
Carter, M. Z., & Mossholder, K. W. (2015). Are we on the same page? The performance effects of congruence between supervisor and group trust. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100, 1349–1363. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038798.
Cronshaw, S. F., & Lord, R. G. (1987). Effects of categorization, attribution, and encoding processes on leadership perceptions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 72, 97–106.
Dulebohn, J. H., Bommer, W. H., Liden, R. C., Brouer, R. L., & Ferris, G. R. (2012). A meta-analysis of antecedents and consequences of leader-member exchange integrating the past with an eye toward the future. Journal of Management, 38, 1715–1759. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206311415280.
Duong, J. (2012). Leaders' conceptions and evaluations of followers as antecedents of leadership style, leader-member exchange and employee outcomes. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 72(8-A), 2984.
Edwards, J. R. (2002). Alternatives to difference scores: Polynomial regression analysis and response surface methodology. In F. Drasgow & N. W. Schmitt (Eds.), Advances in measurement and data analysis (pp. 350–400). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Edwards, J. R. (1993). Problems with the use of profile similarity indices in the study of congruence in organizational research. Personnel Psychology, 46, 641–665. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6570.1993.tb00889.x.
Edwards, J. R., & Cable, D. M. (2009). The value of value congruence. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 654–677. https://doi.org/10.1037/a001489.
Edwards, J. R., & Parry, M. E. (1993). On the use of polynomial regression equations as an alternative to difference scores in organizational research. Academy of Management Journal, 36, 1577–1613. https://doi.org/10.2307/256822.
Engle, E. M., & Lord, G. (1997). Implicit theories, self-schemas, and leader-member exchange. Academy of Management Journal, 40, 988–1010. https://doi.org/10.2307/256956.
Epitropaki, O., & Martin, R. (2005). From ideal to real: A longitudinal study of the role of implicit leadership theories on leader-member exchanges and employee outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 659–676. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.90.4.659.
Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social cognition (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Fraser, S. L., & Lord, R. G. (1988). Stimulus prototypicality and general leadership impressions: Their role in leadership and behavioral ratings. Journal of Psychology, 122, 291–303.
Graen, G. B., & Uhl-Bien, M. (1995). Relationship-based approach to leadership: Development of leader-member exchange (LMX) theory of leadership over 25 years: Applying a multi-level multi-domain perspective. The Leadership Quarterly, 6, 219–247. https://doi.org/10.1016/1048-9843(95)90036-5.
Hansbrough, K. T., & Jones, G. E. (2014). Inside the minds of narcissists: How narcissistic leaders’ cognitive processes contribute to abusive supervision. Zeitschrift für Psychologie, 222, 214–220. https://doi.org/10.1027/2151-2604/a000188.
Harris, K. J., Kacmar, K. M., Zivnuska, S., & Shaw, J. D. (2007). The impact of political skill on impression management effectiveness. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 633–642. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.92.1.278.
Hayes, A. F., & Preacher, K. J. (2014). Statistical mediation analysis with a multicategorical independent variable. British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology, 67, 451–470. https://doi.org/10.1111/bmsp.12028.
Holm, S. (1979). A simple sequentially rejective multiple test procedure. Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, 65–70.
Hobfoll, S. E. (1989). Conservation of resources: A new attempt at conceptualizing stress. American Psychologist, 44, 513–524.
Hu, L. T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 6, 1–55.
Hunt, J. G., Boal, K. B., & Sorenson, R. L. (1990). Top management leadership: Inside the black box. Leadership Quarterly, 1, 41–65.
Johns, G. (1991). Substantive and methodological constraints on behavior and attitudes in organizational research. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 49, 80–104. https://doi.org/10.1016/0749-5978(91)90043-S.
Johnson, S. K., & Kedharnath, U. (2010). Effects of leaders' schema and affect on attributions of charismatic leadership and performance. Symposium presented at the Annual Academy of Management Conference. Canada: Montreal.
Jöreskog, K. G., & Sörbom, D. (2002). LISREL 8.80 (Computer software). Lincolnwood, IL: Scientific Software International, Inc.
Keller, T. (1999). Images of the familiar: Individual differences and implicit leadership theories. Leadership Quarterly, 10, 589–607. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1048-9843(99)00033-8.
Kristof-Brown, A. L., & Stevens, C. K. (2001). Goal congruence in project teams: Does the fit between members’ personal mastery and performance goals matter? Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 1083–1095. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.86.6.1083.
Lindell, M. K., & Whitney, D. J. (2001). Accounting for common method variance in cross-sectional research designs. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 114–121. https://doi.org/10.1037//0021-9010.86.1.114.
Lord, R. G., & Maher, K. J. (1993). Leadership and information processing: Linking perceptions and performance. London: Routledge.
Lord, R. G., Foti, R. J., & de Vader, C. L. (1984). A test of leadership categorization theory: Internal structure, information processing, and leadership perceptions. Organizational Behavior & Human Performance, 34, 343–378.
Martin, R., Guillaume, Y., Thomas, G., Lee, A., & Epitropaki, O. (2016). Leader–member exchange (LMX) and performance: A meta-analytic review. Personnel Psychology, 69, 67–121. https://doi.org/10.1111/peps.12100.
Meyer, R. D., Dalal, R. S., José, I. J., Hermida, R., Chen, T. R., Vega, R. P., Brooks, C. K., & Khare, V. P. (2014). Measuring job-related situational strength and assessing its interactive effects with personality on voluntary work behavior. Journal of Management, 40, 1010–1041. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206311425613.
Mitchell, M. S., & Ambrose, M. L. (2007). Abusive supervision and workplace deviance and the moderating effects of negative reciprocity beliefs. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1159–1168. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.92.4.1159.
Morrison, E. W. (1994). Role definitions and organizational citizenship behavior: The importance of the employee’s perspective. Academy of Management Journal, 37, 1543–1567. https://doi.org/10.2307/256798.
Offermann, L. R., Kennedy, J. K., Jr., & Wirtz, P. W. (1994). Implicit leadership theories: Content, structure and generalizability. Leadership Quarterly, 5, 43–58.
Organ, D. W. (1994). Organizational citizenship behavior and good soldier. In M.G., Runsey, C.B. Walker, & J.H. Harris (Ed.), Personnel selection and classification (pp. 53–67). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Piccolo, R. F., & Colquitt, J. A. (2006). Transformational leadership and job behaviors: The mediating role of core job characteristics. Academy of Management Journal, 49, 327–340. https://doi.org/10.5465/AMJ.2006.20786079.
Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Moorman, R. H., & Fetter, R. (1990). Transformational leader behaviors and their effects on followers' trust in leader, satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behaviors. The Leadership Quarterly, 1, 107–142. https://doi.org/10.1016/1048-9843(90)90009-7.
Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2012). Sources of method bias in social science research and recommendations on how to control it. In S. T. Fiske, D. L. Schacter, & S. E. Taylor (Eds.), Annual Review of Psychology (63rd ed., pp. 539–569). https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-120710-100452.
Rosenberg, S., & Jones, R. (1972). A method for investigating and representing a person’s implicit theory of personality: Theodore Dreiser’s view of people. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 22, 372–386.
Rosch, E. (1978). Principles of categorization. In E. Rosch & B. B. Lloyd (Eds.), Cognition and categorization (pp. 27–48). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Schneider, B. (1987). The people make the place. Personnel Psychology, 40, 437–453. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6570.1987.tb00609.x.
Seaman, M. A., Levin, J. R., & Serlin, R. C. (1991). New developments in pairwise multiple comparisons: Some powerful and practicable procedures. Psychological Bulletin, 110, 577–586. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.110.3.577.
Shanock, L. R., Baran, B. E., Gentry, W. A., Pattison, S. C., & Heggestad, E. D. (2010). Polynomial regression with response surface analysis: A powerful approach for examining moderation and overcoming limitations of difference scores. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25, 543–554.
Shanock, L. R., Baran, B. E., Gentry, W. A., Pattison, S. C., & Heggestad, E. D. (2014). Erratum to: Polynomial regression with response surface analysis: A powerful approach for examining moderation and overcoming limitations of difference scores. Journal of Business and Psychology, 29, 161. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-013-9317-6.
Shondrick, S.J. & Lord R.G. (2010). Implicit leadership and followership theories: Dynamic structures for leadership perceptions, memory and leader-follower processes. Hodgkinson, G.P. & Ford, K.J. (Eds), International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 25, 1–33. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470661628.
Schumacker, R. E., & Lomax, R. G. (1998). A beginner’s guide to structural equation modeling. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Siemsen, E., Roth, A., & Oliveira, P. (2010). Common method bias in regression models with linear, quadratic, and interaction effects. Organizational Research Methods, 13, 456–476. https://doi.org/10.1177/1094428109351241.
Sin, H., Nahrgang, J., & Morgeson, F. (2009). Understanding why they don’t see eye to eye: An examination of leader-member exchange (LMX) agreement. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 1048–1057. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0014827.
Skarlicki, D. P., & Folger, R. (1997). Retaliation in the workplace: The roles of distributive, procedural, and interactional justice. Journal of Applied Psychology, 82, 434–443. https://doi.org/10.1037//0021-9010.82.3.434.
Spector, P. E., & Fox, S. (2005). A model of counterproductive work behavior. In S. Fox & P. E. Spector (Eds.), Counterproductive workplace behavior: Investigations of actors and targets (pp. 151–174). Washington, DC: APA.
Stegmann, S.,Braun, S., Junker, N. Van Dick, R.(2014). Being an ideal follower improves leader member exchange. In T. Sy (Chair), Implicit leadership and followership theories: New developments. Symposium presented at the 29th Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology, Honolulu, HI.
Sternberg, R. J. (1985). Beyond IQ: A triarchic theory of intelligence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sy, T. (2010). What do you think of followers? Examining the content, structure and consequences of implicit followership theories. Organizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes, 113, 73–84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2010.06.001.
Tepper, B. J. (2000). Consequences of abusive supervision. Academy of Management Journal, 43, 178–190. https://doi.org/10.2307/1556375.
Tepper, B. J., Carr, J. C., Breaux, D. M., Geider, S., Hu, C., & Hua, W. (2009). Abusive supervision, intentions to quit, and employees’ workplace deviance: A power/dependence analysis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 109, 156–167. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2009.03.004.
Tepper, B. J., Henle, C. A., Lambert, L. S., Giacalone, R. A., & Duffy, M. K. (2008). Abusive supervision and subordinates’ organizational deviance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 721–732. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.93.4.721.
Uhl-Bien, M., Riggio, R. E., Lowe, K. B., & Carsten, M. K. (2014). Followership theory: A review and research agenda. The Leadership Quarterly, 25, 83–104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2013.11.007.
van Gils, S., van Quaquebeke, N., & van Knippenberg, D. (2010). The X-factor: On the relevance of implicit leadership and followership theories for leader–member exchange agreement. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 19, 333–363. https://doi.org/10.1080/13594320902978458.
Van Quaquebeke, N., Van Knippenberg, D., & Brodbeck, F. C. (2011). More than meets the eye: The role of subordinates' self-perceptions in leader categorization processes. The Leadership Quarterly, 22, 367–382.
Weick, K. E. (1995). Sensemaking in organizations (Vol. 3). London, UK: Sage.
Whiteley, P., Sy, T., & Johnson, S. (2012). Leaders’ conception of followers: Implications for naturally occurring Pygmalion effect. The Leadership Quarterly, 23, 822–834. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2012.03.006.
Williams, L. J., & Anderson, S. E. (1991). Job satisfaction and organizational commitment as predictors of organizational citizenship and in-role behaviors. Journal of Management, 17, 601–617. https://doi.org/10.1177/014920639101700305.
Zellars, K. L., Tepper, B. J., & Duffy, M. K. (2002). Abusive supervision and subordinates' organizational citizenship behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 1068–1076. https://doi.org/10.1037//0021-9010.87.6.1068.
Zhang, Z., Wang, M. O., & Shi, J. (2012). Leader-follower congruence in proactive personality and work outcomes: The mediating role of leader-member exchange. Academy of Management Journal, 55, 111–130. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2009.0865.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Goswami, A., In Park, H. & Beehr, T.A. Does the Congruence Between Leaders’ Implicit Followership Theories and Their Perceptions of Actual Followers Matter?. J Bus Psychol 35, 519–538 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-019-09638-7
- Implicit followership
- Follower categorization
- Leader-member exchange
- Abusive supervision
- Polynomial regression