It’s the Base: Why Displaying Anger Instead of Sadness Might Increase Leaders’ Perceived Power but Worsen Their Leadership Outcomes

Abstract

Purpose

Although research has shown that anger displays lead to more perceived power than sadness displays, sadness displays often result in more positive leadership outcomes than anger displays. Aiming to explain this discrepancy, we examine the specific power bases that are inferred from leaders’ anger versus sadness displays as potential explanatory mechanisms.

Design/Methodology/Approach

We conducted three experimental studies, replicating results with students and working adults and with different induction methods.

Findings

Our results indicate that the discrepancy between the effects of anger and sadness displays on power ascriptions and leadership outcomes can be explained by divergent power bases ascribed to angry versus sad leaders. Whereas more position (i.e., legitimate, reward and coercive) power was ascribed to angry leaders than to sad leaders, sad leaders were viewed as possessing more personal (i.e., referent) power than angry leaders. Moreover, while angry leaders’ higher legitimate power was positively related to leaders’ perceived effectiveness and follower loyalty, both enhanced coercive and reduced referent power were negatively related to these outcomes and positively related to leader-directed deviance.

Implications

Although previous literature suggests that displaying anger instead of sadness might be functional for leaders’ power, our findings aim to make leaders aware of the specific types of power they gain in followers’ eyes when displaying anger versus sadness.

Originality/Value

By examining the power bases ascribed to angry versus sad leaders, our study reconciles inconsistent findings and elucidates the foundation on which angry versus sad leaders’ capacity to influence followers is built.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    The results remained comparable in size and direction when including these participants in the analyses.

  2. 2.

    The results remained comparable in size and direction when including these participants in the analyses.

References

  1. Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179–211. doi:10.1016/0749-5978(91)90020-T.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Basch, J., & Fisher, C. D. (2000). Affective events–emotions matrix: A classification of work events and associated emotions. In N. M. Ashkanasy, C. E. J. Härtel, & W. J. Zerbe (Eds.), Emotions in the workplace: Research, theory, and practice (pp. 36–48). Westport: Quorum Books.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bass, B. M. (1960). Leadership, psychology, and organizational behavior. New York: Harper & Row.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bentler, P. M., & Bonett, D. G. (1980). Significance tests and goodness of fit in the analysis of covariance structures. Psychological Bulletin, 88, 588–606. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.88.3.588.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Blau, P. (1964). Exchange and power in social life. New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Brescoll, V. L., & Uhlmann, E. L. (2008). Can an angry woman get ahead? Status conferral, gender, and expression of emotion in the workplace. Psychological Science, 19, 268–275. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02079.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Browne, M. W., & Cudeck, R. (1992). Alternative ways of assessing model fit. Sociological Methods and Research, 21, 230–258. doi:10.1177/0049124192021002005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Carson, P. P., Carson, K. D., & Roe, C. W. (1993). Social power bases: A meta-analytic examination of interrelationships and outcomes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 23, 1150–1169. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.1993.tb01026.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Carver, C. S., & Harmon-Jones, E. (2009). Anger is an approach-related affect: Evidence and implications. Psychological Bulletin, 135, 183–204. doi:10.1037/a0013965.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Clark, C. (1990). Emotion and micropolitics in everyday life: Some patterns and paradoxes of place. In T. D. Kemper (Ed.), Research agendas in the sociology of emotions (pp. 305–333). Albany: State University of New York Press.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Dael, N., Mortillaro, M., & Scherer, K. R. (2012). Emotion expression in body action and posture. Emotion, 12, 1085–1101. doi:10.1037/a0025737.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Damen, F., Van Knippenberg, D., & Van Knippenberg, B. (2008). Leader affective displays and attributions of charisma: The role of arousal. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 38, 2594–2614. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2008.00405.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Dienesch, R. M., & Liden, R. C. (1986). Leader-member exchange model of leadership: A critique and further development. Academy of Management Review, 11, 618–634. doi:10.2307/258314.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Dunne, E. J., Stahl, M. J., & Melhart, L. J. (1978). Influence sources of project and functional managers in matrix organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 21, 135–140. doi:10.2307/255670.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1978). Facial action coding system: A technique for the measurement of facial movement. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Fast, N. J., & Chen, S. (2009). When the boss feels inadequate: Power, incompetence, and aggression. Psychological Science, 20, 1406–1413. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02452.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Fischer, A. H., & Roseman, I. J. (2007). Beat them or ban them: The characteristics and social functions of anger and contempt. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 103–115. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.93.1.103.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. French, J. R. P., & Raven, B. (1959). The bases of social power. In D. Cartwright & A. Zander (Eds.), Group dynamics (pp. 150–167). New York: Harper & Row.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Frijda, N. H. (1986). The emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Frijda, N. H., Kuipers, P., & ter Schure, E. (1989). Relations among emotion, appraisal, and emotional action readiness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 212–228. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.57.2.212.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Galinsky, A. D., Gruenfeld, D. H., & Magee, J. C. (2003). From power to action. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 453–466. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.85.3.453.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. George, J. M. (2000). Emotions and leadership: The role of emotional intelligence. Human Relations, 53, 1027–1055. doi:10.1177/0018726700538001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Gibson, D. E., & Schroeder, S. (2002). Grinning, frowning, and emotionless: Agent perceptions of power and their effect on felt and displayed emotions in influence attempts. In N. Ashkanasy, C. Hartel, & W. Zerbe (Eds.), Managing emotions in the workplace (pp. 184–211). Armonk: M. E. Sharpe.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Grandey, A. A., Tam, A. P., & Brauburger, A. L. (2002). Affective states and traits in the workplace: Diary and survey data from young workers. Motivation and Emotion, 26, 31–55. doi:10.1023/A:1015142124306.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Hareli, S., Berkovitch, N., Livnat, L., & David, S. (2013). Anger and shame as determinants of perceived competence. International Journal of Psychology, 48, 1080–1089. doi:10.1080/00207594.2013.785634.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Hareli, S., & Hess, U. (2010). What emotional reactions can tell us about the nature of others: An appraisal perspective on person perception. Cognition and Emotion, 24, 128–140. doi:10.1080/02699930802613828.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis. New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Hess, U., Blairy, S., & Kleck, R. E. (2000). The influence of facial emotion displays, gender, and ethnicity on judgments of dominance and affiliation. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 24, 265–283. doi:10.1023/A:1006623213355.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Hinkin, T. R., & Schriesheim, C. A. (1989). Development and application of new scales to measure the French and Raven (1959) bases of social power. Journal of Applied Psychology, 74, 561–567. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.74.4.561.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Horberg, E. J., Kraus, M. W., & Keltner, D. (2013). Pride displays communicate self-interest and support for meritocracy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 24–37. doi:10.1037/a0032849.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Johnson, R. E., Chang, C. H., Meyer, T., Lanaj, K., & Way, J. (2013). Approaching success or avoiding failure? Approach and avoidance motives in the work domain. European Journal of Personality, 27, 424–441. doi:10.1002/per.1883.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Johnson, G., & Connelly, S. (2014). Negative emotions in informal feedback: The benefits of disappointment and drawbacks of anger. Human Relations, 67, 1265–1290. doi:10.1177/0018726714532856.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Johnson, S. K., Murphy, S. E., Zewdie, S., & Reichard, R. J. (2008). The strong, sensitive type: Effects of gender stereotypes and leadership prototypes on the evaluation of male and female leaders. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 106, 39–60. doi:10.1016/j.obhdp.2007.12.002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Judge, T. A., & Livingston, B. A. (2008). Is the gap more than gender? A longitudinal analysis of gender, gender role orientation, and earnings. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 994–1012. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.93.5.994.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. Kaiser, R. B., Hogan, R., & Craig, S. B. (2008). Leadership and the fate of organizations. American Psychologist, 63(2), 96–110. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.63.2.96.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Keltner, D., & Haidt, J. (1999). Social functions of emotions at four levels of analysis. Cognition and Emotion, 13, 505–521. doi:10.1080/026999399379168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Knutson, B. (1996). Facial expressions of emotion influence interpersonal trait inferences. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 20, 165–182. doi:10.1007/BF02281954.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Koning, L. F., & Van Kleef, G. A. (2015). How leaders’ emotional displays shape followers’ organizational citizenship behavior. The Leadership Quarterly, 26, 489–501. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2015.03.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Lelieveld, G.-J., Van Dijk, E., Van Beest, I., Steinel, W., & Van Kleef, G. A. (2011). Disappointed in you, angry about your offer: Distinct negative emotions induce concessions via different mechanisms. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 635–641. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2010.12.015.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Lewis, K. M. (2000). When leaders display emotion: How followers respond to negative emotional expression of male and female leaders. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 21, 221–234. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-1379(200003)21:2%3C221::AID-JOB36%3E3.3.CO;2-S.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Lindebaum, D., & Fielden, S. (2011). ‘It’s good to be angry’: Enacting anger in construction project management to achieve perceived leader effectiveness. Human Relations, 64, 437–458. doi:10.1177/0018726710381149.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Lindebaum, D., & Jordan, P. J. (2012). Positive emotions, negative emotions, or utility of discrete emotions? Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33, 1027–1030. doi:10.1002/job.1819.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Lord, R., & Maher, K. J. (1991). Leadership and information processing: Linking perceptions and performance. Boston: Unwin-Everyman.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Madera, J. M., & Smith, D. B. (2009). The effects of leader negative emotions on evaluations of leadership in a crisis situation: The role of anger and sadness. The Leadership Quarterly, 20, 103–114. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2009.01.007.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Magee, J. C., & Galinsky, A. D. (2008). Social hierarchy: The self-reinforcing nature of power and status. The Academy of Management Annals, 2, 351–398. doi:10.1080/19416520802211628.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Marsh, A. A., Adams, R. B., & Kleck, R. E. (2005). Why do fear and anger look the way they do? Form and social function in facial expressions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 73–86. doi:10.1177/0146167204271306.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  47. Martorana, P. V., Galinsky, A. D., & Rao, H. (2005). From system justification to system condemnation: Antecedents of attempts to change status hierarchies. In M. A. Neale, E. A. Mannix, & M. T. Hunt (Eds.), Research on managing groups and teams: Vol. 7. Status and groups (pp. 283–313). Greenwich: JAI Press. doi:10.1016/S1534-0856(05)07012-X.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Maxwell, S. E., & Cole, D. A. (2007). Bias in cross-sectional analyses of longitudinal mediation. Psychological Methods, 12, 23–44. doi:10.1037/1082-989X.12.1.23.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  49. Miron-Spektor, E., & Rafaeli, A. (2009). The effects of anger in the workplace: When, where, and why observing anger enhances or hinders performance. Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, 28, 153–178. doi:10.1108/S0742-7301(2009)0000028007.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. 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. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.92.4.1159.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  51. Mossholder, K. W., Bennett, N., Kemery, E. R., & Wesolowski, M. A. (1998). Relationships between bases of power and work reactions: The mediational role of procedural justice. Journal of Management, 24, 533–552. doi:10.1177/014920639802400404.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Mulder, M., De Jong, R. D., Koppelaar, L., & Verhage, J. (1986). Power, situation, and leaders’ effectiveness: An organizational field study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 71, 566–570. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.71.4.566.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Pfeffer, J. (1992). Managing with power: Politics and influence in organizations. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

    Google Scholar 

  54. 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. doi:10.1016/1048-9843(90)90009-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Podsakoff, P. M., & Schriesheim, C. A. (1985). Field studies of French and Raven’s bases of power: Critique, reanalysis, and suggestions for future research. Psychological Bulletin, 97, 387–411. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.97.3.387.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Rafaeli, A., & Sutton, R. I. (1987). Expression of emotion as part of the work role. Academy of Management Review, 12, 23–37. doi:10.2307/257991.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Ragins, B. R., & Winkel, D. E. (2011). Gender, emotion and power in work relationships. Human Resource Management Review, 21, 377–393. doi:10.1016/j.hrmr.2011.05.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Rahim, M. A. (1989). Relationships of leader power to compliance and satisfaction with supervision: Evidence from a national sample of managers. Journal of Management, 15, 545–556. doi:10.1177/014920638901500404.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Ridgeway, C., & Johnson, C. (1990). What is the relationship between socioemotional behavior and status in task groups? American Journal of Sociology, 95, 1189–1212. doi:10.1086/229426.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Russell, J. A. (1980). A circumplex model of affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 1161–1178. doi:10.1037/h0077714.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Russell, J. A., & Barrett, L. F. (1999). Core affect, prototypical emotional episodes, and other things called emotion: Dissecting the elephant. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 805–819. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.76.5.805.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  62. Schaubroeck, J. M., & Shao, P. (2012). The role of attribution in how followers respond to the emotional expression of male and female leaders. The Leadership Quarterly, 23, 27–42. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2011.11.003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Scherer, K. R. (1986). Vocal affect expression: A review and a model for future research. Psychological Bulletin, 99, 143–165. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.99.2.143.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  64. Schwarzwald, J., Koslowsky, M., & Ochana-Levin, T. (2004). Usage of and compliance with power tactics in routine versus nonroutine work settings. Journal of Business and Psychology, 18, 385–402. doi:10.1023/B:JOBU.0000016713.86935.1b.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Shariff, A. F., Tracy, J. L., & Markusoff, J. L. (2012). (Implicitly) judging a book by its cover: The power of pride and shame expressions in shaping judgments of social status. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 1178–1193. doi:10.1177/0146167212446834.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  66. Sheeran, P. (2002). Intention-behavior relations: A conceptual and empirical review. European Review of Social Psychology, 12, 1–36. doi:10.1080/14792772143000003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. 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. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.82.3.434.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Smith, C. A., & Ellsworth, P. C. (1985). Patterns of cognitive appraisal in emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 813–838. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.48.4.813.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  69. Smith, C. A., & Lazarus, R. S. (1993). Appraisal components, core relational themes, and the emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 7, 233–269. doi:10.1080/02699939308409189.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Sturm, R. E., & Antonakis, J. (2015). Interpersonal power: A review, critique, and research agenda. Journal of Management, 41, 136–163. doi:10.1177/0149206314555769.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2007). Using multivariate statistics. Boston: Pearson.

    Google Scholar 

  72. Tiedens, L. Z. (2001). Anger and advancement versus sadness and subjugation: The effect of negative emotion expressions on social status conferral. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 86–94. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.80.1.86.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  73. Tiedens, L. Z., Ellsworth, P. C., & Mesquita, B. (2000). Sentimental stereotypes: Emotional expectations for high-and low-status group members. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 560–575. doi:10.1177/0146167200267004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Van Kleef, G. A. (2009). How emotions regulate social life: The emotions as social information (EASI) model. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 184–188. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8721.2009.01633.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Van Kleef, G. A. (2014). Understanding the positive and negative effects of emotional expressions in organizations: EASI does it. Human Relations, 67, 1145–1164. doi:10.1177/0018726713510329.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Van Kleef, G. A., Homan, A. C., Beersma, B., & Van Knippenberg, D. (2010). On angry leaders and agreeable followers: How leaders’ emotions and followers’ personalities shape motivation and team performance. Psychological Science, 21, 1827–1834. doi:10.1177/0956797610387438.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  77. Van Kleef, G. A., Homan, A. C., Beersma, B., Van Knippenberg, D., Van Knippenberg, B., & Damen, F. (2009). Searing sentiment or cold calculation? The effects of leader emotional displays on team performance depend on follower epistemic motivation. Academy of Management Journal, 52, 562–580. doi:10.5465/AMJ.2009.41331253.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Visser, V. A., Van Knippenberg, D., Van Kleef, G. A., & Wisse, B. (2013). How leader displays of happiness and sadness influence follower performance: Emotional contagion and creative versus analytical performance. The Leadership Quarterly, 24, 172–188. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2012.09.003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  79. Wallbott, H. G., & Scherer, K. R. (1986). Cues and channels in emotion recognition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 690–699. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.51.4.690.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Wang, L., Northcraft, G. B., & Van Kleef, G. A. (2012). Beyond negotiated outcomes: The hidden costs of anger expression in dyadic negotiation. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 119, 54–63. doi:10.1016/j.obhdp.2012.05.002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  81. Ward, E. A. (1998). Managerial power bases and subordinates’ manifest needs as influences on psychological climate. Journal of Business and Psychology, 12, 361–378. doi:10.1023/A:1025083631828.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Wayne, S. J., Shore, L. M., & Liden, R. C. (1997). Perceived organizational support and leader-member exchange: A social exchange perspective. Academy of Management Journal, 40, 82–111. doi:10.2307/257021.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. Yukl, G., & Falbe, C. M. (1991). Importance of different power sources in downward and lateral relations. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76, 416–423. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.76.3.416.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tanja Schwarzmüller.

Additional information

Preparation of this article was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and by the European Social Fund of the European Union (FKZ 01FP1072/73, research project “Selection and Assessment of Leaders in Academia and Business”).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Schwarzmüller, T., Brosi, P., Spörrle, M. et al. It’s the Base: Why Displaying Anger Instead of Sadness Might Increase Leaders’ Perceived Power but Worsen Their Leadership Outcomes. J Bus Psychol 32, 691–709 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-016-9467-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Leader anger
  • Leader sadness
  • Power bases
  • Emotions as social information
  • Follower inferences