A Field Investigation of Implicit Theory Congruence in Leader-Follower Relationships

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of the following study was to investigate the role of interpersonal congruence between leaders' and followers' implicit theories of leadership (ILTs) and followership (IFTs) in both partners' perspectives of the leader-follower relationship. While most literature focuses on assessments of the leader-member exchange (LMX) relationship, this study examined perceived support, identification with one's partner, and contribution to the relationship, in addition to LMX. Congruence between self-views and interpersonal congruence on implicit theories was examined as moderators of these relationships, such that the strength of these relationships was predicted to increase as self-views aligned more highly with implicit theories. Data from 103 independent pairs of full-time working adults (across an organizational sample as well as varied workforce snowball sample) were analyzed using eight manifest path models. Leader ILT -- follower ILT congruence significantly and positive predicted leader-rated LMX and perceived support, but not identification and contribution. Leader IFT -- follower IFT congruence significantly and positive predicted follower-rated LMX and perceived support, but not identification and contribution. The results of this study suggest expectations are meaningful predictors of both partner's assessments of multiple relationship-oriented outcome variables, but only with regard to perceptions of outcomes from the perspective of one's dyadic partner.

leader, follower, implicit theories, leader-member exchange, congruence, moderation