Leader Effectiveness in the Eye of the Beholder: Self-Affirming Implicit Policies in Leader Perception

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Virginia Tech


The present study employed a novel approach to extend current knowledge of how ideal leader prototypes and self-concepts solely and dually influence leader categorization and effectiveness judgments. Cluster analysis and policy-capturing were employed to examine independent and dependent variables as patterns. Findings partially supported hypotheses and corroborated previous research. Leader categorization and effectiveness judgments were self-affirming across multiple managerial performance scenarios; implicit policies varied based on the pattern of traits exhibited within their self-concepts and ideal leader prototypes. On average, people who endorsed prototypical ideal leader prototypes and self-concepts were more stringent compared to individuals with less prototypical patterns. They categorized fewer managers as leaders, perceived them as less effective, and weighed Planning, Motivating, and Controlling performance behaviors more in their judgments. The study also showed ideal leader prototypes explained variance in implicit policies for leader categorization and effectiveness beyond the variance accounted for by self-concepts; however, the self-concept remained a significant predictor of implicit policies for leader effectiveness. This novel finding suggests the self-concept, like the ideal leader prototype, is relevant in weighting performance behaviors for effectiveness judgment.



Self, Leadership Perceptions, Policy-capturing, Pattern Approach, Leader Categorization Theory