ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (4): 570-581.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2023.00570

• Conceptual Framework • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The conversion mechanism and double-edged sword effect of expressed leader humility from the perspective of leader authenticity

LI Jie1, ZHANG Zhenzhen1, LIANG Qiaozhuan1, LI Genqiang2()   

  1. 1School of Management, Xian Jiaotong University, Xi’an 7100049, China
    2School of Management, Xinxiang Medical College, Xinxiang 453003, China
  • Received:2022-07-01 Online:2023-04-15 Published:2022-12-30
  • Contact: LI Genqiang


Leader humility is a new leadership style that emerging at the VUCA era, which received highly praised in academia and practitioner as being regarded as the "panacea" of organizational management. However, some leaders regard humility as the "workplace protection" and behave in humble ways deliberately, in order to meet the social norms and achieve self-interest. In fact, the phenomenon of "hypocrites" is very common in the workplace, which has negative impact on organization development, e.g. damaging the relationship between superiors and subordinates, and inducing organizational deviation. However, prior studies overwhelmingly focused on the positive effects of leader humility, which may neglect the implicit behavioral motivation of leader’s humble expression and the potential dark-side effect of leader humility. Hence, in post-pandemic era, does employees more sensitive to the behavioral motivation of leadership? Does authentic humble leadership more effective to shaping resilient organizations? Does the strategic humble leader effective in workplace? How to break the shackles of strategic leadership? The above questions have not yet been fully explored in current research.
Moving beyond the general positive effect, this research recognized two distinct motivations that actually exist behind the expressed humility: the authentic expression of internal trait or self-expression strategy of self-interesting, which may have different effectiveness. Drawing from the distinguish of authentic or strategic of leader humility, this study develops positive effect model of authentic leader humility, negative effect model of strategic leader humility, and conversion effect model of strategic leader humility. Specifically, from the “follower reaction” perspective, study 1 investigates how employee respond to leader’s authentic humble behavior. Based on the resource conservation theory, this study develops a developing strategy model for employees and explores the psychological mechanism and boundary condition of improving employee resilience. Study 2 investigates how employee respond to leader’s strategic humble behavior. Based on supervisor-subordinate value consistency model, this study develops the survival strategy model and ingratiate strategy model for employees, and explores the cognitive and behavioral process employees adopt under different degree of value consistence. From the “leader conversion” perspective, study 3 further reveals the formation mechanism of strategic leader humility at the individual level, and verifies the intervention mechanism of strategic leader humility at the organizational level.
In all, this research aims to reveal the profile of the study of leader humility. Through the essential exploration of the "authenticity" of leader expressed humility, this study deepens the dialectical understanding of the connotation of leader humility theory and the different effectiveness of humble leadership. In this way, from the perspectives of subordinate response and leadership transformation, this research comprehensively explores the positive effects of authentic leader humility, the negative effects of strategic leader humility and the transformation mechanism of strategic leader humility. The current study contributes to expand the understanding of leader humility theory, as well as provides potential directions for managers to fully stimulate authentic effectiveness of leader humility, and help to reduce the negative effect of strategic humility in the era of post-pandemic.

Key words: authentic leader humility, strategic leader humility, follower reaction, conversion mechanism

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