Two Lighthouses to Navigate: Effects of Ideal and Counter-Ideal Values on Follower Identification and Satisfaction with Their Leaders
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Ideals (or ideal values) help people to navigate in social life. They indicate at a very fundamental level what people are concerned about, what they strive for, and what they want to be affiliated with. Transferring this to a leader–follower analysis, our first study (n = 306) confirms that followers’ identification and satisfaction with their leaders are stronger, the more leaders match followers’ ideal leader values. Study 2 (n = 244) extends the perspective by introducing the novel concept of counter-ideals (i.e., how an ideal leader should not be) as a second, non-redundant point of reference. Results confirm that a leader’s match on ideal and on counter-ideal values have independent effects in that both explain unique variance in followers’ identification and satisfaction with their leader. Study 3 (n = 136) replicates the previous results in an experimental scenario study and provides evidence for the proposed causal direction of the underlying process. We conclude that counter-ideal values might be an additional point of reference that people use to triangulate targets above and beyond ideal values and discuss the implications of our findings for value research and management.
Keywordsfit followership positive and negative forces identification ideals leadership satisfaction values
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The research was supported by a grant from the Stiftung wertevolle Zukunft. We are grateful to Johannes Ullrich, Steffen Giessner, and Suzanne van Gils for their valuable feedback on an earlier version of this paper. Parts of this paper were presented at the 13th European Congress on Work and Organizational Psychology. Stockholm, 2007.
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