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Training Leader Emotion Regulation and Leadership Effectiveness

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to test whether we could train the regulation of affective displays of leaders in terms of the emotion regulation strategy of deep acting (displaying feelings one also experiences) and display of positive affect. We also tested whether this resulted in improved leadership effectiveness (i.e., a mediation model in which the training results in greater leadership effectiveness through improved emotion regulation).

Design/Methodology/Approach

Data were obtained from a field experiment. We randomly assigned N = 31 leaders (rated by N = 60 subordinates) to a control group without training or an experimental group with emotion regulation training. Before and 2 weeks after the intervention, deep acting (leader-rated) and positive affective displays and leadership effectiveness (subordinate-rated) were assessed.

Findings

The training had positive effects on deep acting, positive affective displays, and leadership effectiveness. Deep acting and positive affect mediated the relationship between the intervention and leadership effectiveness.

Implications

We discuss how this helps build the case both for an emotional labor approach to leadership and for the leadership development potential of such an emotional labor approach.

Originality/Value

The findings of this study represent the first causal evidence that leader emotion regulation can be trained, improved emotion regulation results in greater leadership effectiveness and is one of the first empirical studies that integrates emotional labor theory to leadership effectiveness. It is therefore important from a theory development perspective.

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Correspondence to Peter J. Edelman.

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Edelman, P.J., van Knippenberg, D. Training Leader Emotion Regulation and Leadership Effectiveness. J Bus Psychol 32, 747–757 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-016-9471-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-016-9471-8

Keywords

  • Training
  • Leadership
  • Emotion regulation
  • Emotional labor
  • Deep acting