In today’s fast-changing, uncertain business environment, team work is increasingly popular in the organizations owing to its faster response speed, more diverse viewpoints, more flexibility, and so on. However, not all teams can function effectively, so how to improve team effectiveness has been an important and hot topic in the field of organizational management. The research on team field from a behavior perspective shows that both cooperation and sanction behaviors have significant influences on team effectiveness. Therefore, in order to improve team effectiveness, on the one hand, we should actively stimulate the cooperation between team members to take the natural advantages of team work mode; on the other hand, we should reduce the sanction behaviors between team members to overcome the potential drawbacks of team work mode. The role of leadership has been the focus of scholars in the literature concerning the factors affecting team effectiveness. In recent years, as the business environment that enterprises face is more complex and more turbulent, and the new generation employees who pay more attention to fairness, freedom and self-worth are becoming the main force in the workplace, the traditional leadership style depending on control is challenged continuously. The " bottom-up” leadership acknowledging or even learning from employees is very popular. Based on this realistic background, the importance of the humble leadership is increasingly prominent. The conflict between team members has been viewed as one of the most important perspectives in analyzing the impact of leadership on team effectiveness. Researchers point out that there are many conflict events in teams that are closely related to the status, and status conflicts between members to compete for their own interests. Under the influences of the traditional culture such as the high power distance and the pattern of difference sequence in China, all the individuals value their positions very much in an organization or team. Besides, the relationships with leaders decide the position of the individual in an organization or team to a great extent. Thus it can be judged that the behavior style of the leadership has an important influence on the status conflicts between team members. Therefore, this paper takes the leadership style and the staff behavior as the cut-in points, examines the influence of the humble leadership on the cooperation and sanction behaviors of team members as well as the mechanism from a status conflict perspective. Based on the data from a questionnaire survey of 277 members from 52 different construction project teams, the following conclusions are drawn: firstly, the more humble a leader is, the less likely status conflicts occur among team members; secondly, the less likely the status conflict is to occur, the more likely team members are to cooperate with each other, and the less likely they are to adopt sanction behaviors; thirdly, the relationship between leader humility and the above behaviors is mediated by status conflicts. It has made contributions to both theoretical development and management practice. Firstly, we explore the factors influencing both cooperation and sanction behaviors from an integration perspective, which enriches the research of team effectiveness from a behavior perspective. Secondly, based on the theory of social information process, this paper explores the influence of humble leadership on cooperation and sanction behaviors. It enriches the antecedents of cooperation and sanction behaviors, and makes up the research blank in the Chinese context. And it also deepens the research in humility field, and highlights its significance. Thirdly, we choose status conflicts as the intermediary variable to explore the mechanism of the role of the humble leadership in cooperation and sanction behaviors. It enriches and perfects the related research in the conflict field and opens up a new view of the influence of the leadership style on employee behaviors as well. The revelation of the findings to leaders lies in that being humble rather than authoritative, may be a more effective leadership style in the new era. Leaders should strive to consider the overall team interests as the core, pay attention to the distribution equity, and avoid leading to status disputes within teams. At the same time, it is necessary to establish a good role model for employees, promote cooperation behavior as much as possible, and reduce the sanctions against employees who violate rules. The organization effectiveness can be maintained by communicating widely, perfecting the mechanisms and so on. Future research can further compare the influences of different types of leadership behaviors on cooperation and sanction behaviors, and whether their intrinsic mechanism is different. In addition, exploring the boundary conditions of the effect of the humble leadership on the team effectiveness, and developing and validating the local scale in Chinese context are of equal importance.
Does Leader Humility Improve Team Effectiveness? The Mediating Role of Status Conflicts
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 40, Issue 07, pp. 129 - 141 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2018.07.010
 Chen Lu, Bai Shuaijiao, Wang Yuemei. CEO transformational leadership and TMT creativity: A moderated mediating model[J]. Nankai Business Review, 2016, 19(2): 63-74.
 Feng Jingming, Liu Shanshi, Wu Kunjin et al. A review of the literature of humble leadership[J] Foreign Economics & Management, 2014,36(3): 38-48.
 Lei Xinghui, Shan Zhiwen, Su Taoyong, et al. Impacts of humble leadership behavior on employee creativity[J]. Journal of Management Science, 2015(2): 115-125.
 Li Ran, Wang Hui, Zhao Jiahui. The impact of authentic leadership behavior on team creativity[J]. Journal of Management Science, 2016, 29(5): 71-82.
 Liu Haiyang, Liu Shengming, Wang Hui et al. The influence of leader-follower value congruence in power distance on follower's performance and its mechanism[J]. Nankai Business Review, 2016,19(5): 55-65.
 Liu Jun, Zhang Kai, Zhong Lifeng. The formation and impact of the atmosphere of the “error routine” of the work team: A case study based on successive data[J]. Management World, 2009,(8): 92-101,188.
 Liu Xuan, Zhang Xiangqian. A review and prospect of team conflict theory research[J] Soft Science, 2016, 30(4): 80-84.
 Luo Jinlian, Hua Changhua, Zhong Jing. The impact of humble leadership behavior on employees’ job performance and job satisfaction[J]. Soft Science, 2015(10): 78-82.
 QU Qing, HE Zhichan, MEI Zhequn. An empirical study on the impact of leader humility on leadership effectiveness and employees’ organizational identification[J]. China Soft Science, 2013,(7): 101-109.
 Tang Hanying, Long Lirong, Zhou Ruyi. Humble leadership behavior and subordinates’ work engagement: A mediated moderation model[J]. Journal of Management Science, 2015,(3): 77-89.
 Wang Biying, Du Qianqian. A review and prospect of humble leadership[J]. Human Resources Development of China, 2016(13): 28-36.
 Wang Jiarui, Liu Meilin. A research on current situations and trends of factors affecting team performance[J]. Science Research Management, 2016(s1): 193-199.
 Wang Yanzi, Bai Ling, Luo Jinlian. A study of the effect of humble leadership on R&D employee creativity[J]. Foreign Economics＆Management, 2016, 38(10): 76-88.
 Wu Xin, Wu Zhiming. Factors of team effectiveness: overseas review of current situation and determinants for future trend[J]. Foreign Economics＆Management, 2005,(1): 47-50.
 Xie Jun, Yan Ming. Active coping or avoidance? The effect of proactive personality on the relationship between workplace ostracism and organizational citizenship behavior[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016,(10):1314-1325.
 Zhang Gang, Yue Chen. Recent advancements in team effectiveness research: A review of team adaptation studies[J]. Science＆Technology Progress and Policy, 2017(1): 154-160.
 Zhao Kehan, Jia Liangding, CAI Yahua, et al. Attenuating the negative effect of team relational conflict: A study based on Chinese context[J]. Management World, 2014(3): 119-130.
 Zhao Qi, Li Feng. Team leadership and team effectiveness: A multilevel study through the lens of social identity theory[J]. Advances in Psychological Science, 2016, 24(11): 1677-1689.
 Anicich E M, Fast N J, Halevy N, et al. When the bases of social hierarchy collide: Power without status drives interpersonal conflict[J]. Organization Science, 2016, 27(1): 123-140.
 Bendersky C, Shah N P. The cost of status enhancement: Performance effects of individuals’ status mobility in task groups[J]. Organization Science, 2012, 21(1): 308-322.
 Bendersky C, Hays N A. Status conflict in groups[J]. Organization Science, 2012, 23(2): 323-340.
 Bendersky C, Hays N A. The positive effects of status conflicts in teams where members perceive status hierarchies differently[J]. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2017, 8(2): 124-132.
 Boies K, Fiset J, Gill H. Communication and trust are key: Unlocking the relationship between leadership and team performance and creativity[J]. The Leadership Quarterly, 2015, 26(6): 1080-1094.
 Cai Y H, Jia L D, Li J X. Dual-level transformational leadership and team information elaboration: The mediating role of relationship conflict and moderating role of middle way thinking[J]. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 2016, 34: 1-23.
 Ceri-Booms M, Curşeu P L, Oerlemans L A G. Task and person-focused leadership behaviors and team performance: A meta-analysis[J]. Human Resource Management Review, 2017, 27(1): 178-192.
 Chen Y R, Peterson R S, Phillips D J, et al. Introduction to the special issue: Bringing status to the table—Attaining, maintaining, and experiencing status in organizations and markets[J]. Organization Science, 2012, 23(2): 299-307.
 Chen L, Yang B Y, Jing R T. Paternalistic leadership, team conflict, and TMT decision effectiveness: Interactions in the Chinese context[J]. Management and Organization Review, 2015, 11(4): 739-762.
 Cheng J T, Tracy J L, Foulsham T, et al. Two ways to the top: Evidence that dominance and prestige are distinct yet viable avenues to social rank and influence[J]. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2013, 104(1): 103-125.
 Cheng M Y, Wang L. The mediating effect of ethical climate on the relationship between paternalistic leadership and team identification: A team-level analysis in the Chinese context[J]. Journal of Business Ethics, 2015, 129(3): 639-654.
 Chun J S, Choi J N. Members’ needs, intragroup conflict, and group performance[J]. Journal of Applied Psychology, 2014, 99(3): 437-450.
 Flynn F J, Reagans R E, Amanatullah E T, et al. Helping one’s way to the top: Self-monitors achieve status by helping others and knowing who helps whom[J]. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2006, 91(6): 1123-1137.
 Greer L, Bendersky C. Power and status in conflict and negotiation research: Introduction to the special issue[J]. Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, 2013, 6(4): 239–252.
 Mathieu J, Maynard M T, Rapp T, et al. Team effectiveness 1997-2007: A review of recent advancements and a glimpse into the future[J]. Journal of Management, 2008, 34(3): 410-476.
 Oc B, Bashshur M R, Daniels M A, et al. Leader humility in Singapore[J]. Leadership Quarterly, 2015, 26(1): 68-80.
 Ou A Y, Tsui A S, Kinicki A J, et al. Humble chief executive officers’ connections to top management team integration and middle managers’ responses[J]. Administrative Science Quarterly, 2014, 59(1): 34-72.
 Owens B P, Hekman D R. Modeling how to grow: An inductive examination of humble leader behaviors, contingencies, and outcomes[J]. Academy of Management Journal, 2012, 55(4): 787-818.
 Owens B P, Johnson M D, Mitchell T R. Expressed humility in organizations: Implications for performance, teams, and leadership[J]. Organization Science, 2013, 24(5): 1517-1538.
 Owens B P, Hekman D R. How does leader humility influence team performance? Exploring the mechanisms of contagion and collective promotion focus[J]. Academy of Management Journal, 2016, 59(3): 1088-1111.
 Parker H. Team effectiveness and open discussion of conflict in collaborative new product development: A cross-national study[J]. Journal of Business Research, 2016, 69(11): 4757-4762.
 Rego A, Owens B, Leal S, et al. How leader humility helps teams to be humbler, psychologically stronger, and more effective: A moderated mediation model[J]. The Leadership Quarterly, 2017a, 28(5): 639-658.
 Rego A, Owens B, Yam K C, et al. Leader humility and team performance: Exploring the mediating mechanisms of team psycap and task allocation effectiveness[J]. Journal of Management, 2017b, DOI:10.1177/0149206316688941.
 Rego A, Cunha M P E, Simpson A V. The perceived impact of leaders’ humility on team effectiveness: An empirical study[J]. Journal of Business Ethics, 2018, 148(1): 205-218.
 Salancik G R, Pfeffer J. A social information processing approach to job attitudes and task design[J]. Administrative Science Quarterly, 1978, 23(3): 224-253.
 Varella P, Javidan M, Waldman D A. A model of instrumental networks: The roles of socialized charismatic leadership and group behavior[J]. Organization Science, 2012, 23(2): 582-595.
 Zhang H Y, Ou A Y, Tsui A S, et al. CEO humility, narcissism and firm innovation: A paradox perspective on CEO traits[J]. The Leadership Quarterly, 2017, 28(5): 585-604.
 Zhou J M, Liu S, Zhang X S, et al. Differential leadership, team conflict and new product development performance: An empirical study from R&D team in China[J]. Chinese Management Studies, 2016, 10(3): 544-558.
Cite this article
Cai Di, Ma Jinpeng, Sun Yan, et al. Does Leader Humility Improve Team Effectiveness? The Mediating Role of Status Conflicts[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2018, 40(7): 129-141.
Previous: How Does Customer Engagement in Brand Co-creation Promote Brand Loyalty? A study on the Influences and Mechanisms of the Types of Brand Co-creation Behavior on Brand Loyalty