The real sense of leadership research has developed for almost 70 years, since Stogdill and Shartle appealed that leadership research should shift from focusing on leadership problems and leaders’ personalities to " a process of interaction between persons who are participating in goal oriented group activities” in 1948. Traditional leadership research mainly focuses on a cognitive perspective, which generates a number of important theories like leader trait theory, contingency theory, and leader-member exchange theory, as well as many kinds of typical leadership like charismatic leadership, transformational leadership, empowering leadership, ethical leadership, humble leadership, and destructive leadership. In other words, the leadership theory jungle has emerged so far. Although the leadership theory jungle is complicated and has more and more branches, researchers have reached a consensus: the essence of leadership is leadership effectiveness. Much evidence has pointed out that leadership effectiveness partly comes from leaders’ display of affect. Although most types of leadership are from a cognitive perspective, if focusing on leadership effectiveness and affect displays, all types can be divided into two categories: positive and passive leader affective displays. Therefore, this paper highlights leader affect and its interpersonal effect, rather than one or more typical types of leadership. While the study of leader affect is relatively mature abroad, such study in China is still in the start-up stage. One of the restraining factors is that there is seldom a systematical review of leader affect research, so that the relevant study is difficult to conduct in China. This paper aims at completing such fundamental work by answering these questions: what is leader affect? what does it consist of? what are the research models? what impact does it have on leaders and subordinates respectively? After collecting and reviewing a large number of literature, this paper arranges three sections to answer these questions: firstly, we introduce the concepts and development of affect and leader affect; secondly, we introduce the research models that explain how leader affect impacts the interaction between leaders and subordinates; lastly, we review the impacts of leader affect on both leaders and subordinates. Although western research developed several years before Chinese research, we finds some research gaps after reviewing western literature:（1）there is not much research focusing on leader’s passive affect, especially the moderated or contingency variables that lead passive affect to positive impact;（2）what are the factors influencing leader affect? it is fundamental study that is neglected by many researchers;（3）leader affective presence describes leader affect from subordinates’ perspective, which may more approach real leader affect, but there are very few empirical studies on this topic. The study of leader affect is very important for organizational practice and unifying the leadership theory jungle, because each kind of leadership cannot exist without affective displays. In China, most researches focus on emotions and pay very little attention to affect. However, affect, emotion, and mood are different concepts. So this paper aims at two goals: first, by clarifying some relevant concepts about affect, we hope to make the field of affect research more normative and coherent; second, by introducing a review of western research on leader affect, we appeal to Chinese researchers for paying more attention to the role of affect in the interaction between leaders and subordinates.
A Literature Review of Leader Affect
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 40, Issue 02, pp. 93 - 104 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2018.02.007
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Cite this article
Feng Jingming, Liu Shanshi. A Literature Review of Leader Affect[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2018, 40(2): 93-104.
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