Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 154, Issue 1, pp 195–210 | Cite as

Does Ethical Leadership Motivate Followers to Participate in Delivering Compassion?

  • Pablo Zoghbi-Manrique-de-LaraEmail author
  • Mercedes Viera-Armas
Original Paper


Little is known about whether followers who perceive ethical leadership are more easily moved to act compassionately with peers. This study hypothesizes four compassionate feelings as mediators of the relationship between ethical leadership and interpersonal citizenship behavior directed at peers: (a) empathic concern or an other-oriented emotional response elicited by and congruent with the perceived welfare of a peer in need; (b) mindfulness, a state of consciousness in which attention is focused on present-moment phenomena; (c) kindness, understanding the pain or suffering of peers; and (d) common humanity, viewing peers’ experiences as part of the larger human experience. Data were obtained from 300 followers working in three-member groups with a common leader in each of 100 investment banks in the city of London. Results indicated that: (a) ethical leadership was significantly and positively linked to compassion and peer-focused citizenship and (b) common humanity is the only compassionate feeling that mediates the link between ethical leadership and peer-focused citizenship. Findings suggest that supervisors who act morally more easily move their followers to become sensitized to peers’ setbacks and misfortunes and take action in the form of interpersonal OCBs to lessen or relieve their suffering.


Ethical leadership Compassion Peer-focused OCBs Interpersonal citizenship OCB 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all companies and individual participants included in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pablo Zoghbi-Manrique-de-Lara
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mercedes Viera-Armas
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Economics and ManagementUniversity of Las Palmas de Gran CanariaThe Canary IslandsSpain
  2. 2.Morgan StanleyLondonUK

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