TRAPPED IN THE MIDDLE: CHALLENGING THE LINEAR APPROACH TO THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LEADERSHIP AND SAFETY

Tal Katz–Navon, Ronit Kark, Marianna Delegach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

The underlying assumption of leadership literature is that the more leaders enact behaviors characterizing a specific positive leadership style, the better would be the followers’ out-comes. In three studies using different methodologies (an online survey, an experimental online study, and a field study including multiple sources of data), the current work re-veals novel curvilinear relationships between leadership styles—transformational and management-by-exception passive—and followers’ outcomes in the context of employee safety (i.e., safety motivation, behaviors, and accident rate). Combining leadership theory with Mischel’s (1973) theoretical framework of situational strength, we propose that leaders create strong situations when there are high levels of perceived clarity and consistency of their leadership style. High levels of a specific leadership style provide unequivocal infor-mation, which enables followers to understand the desirability of specific safety behaviors. Low levels also convey a clear and consistent message to followers because the leaders consistently, clearly, and predictably demonstrate nonleadership and followers know what to expect from the leader. As demonstrated in a fourth study, however, moderate levels of a specific leadership style were perceived by followers as less clear and consistent and thus could create “weak” situations that eventually reduce safety at the individual and team levels. These findings have significant implications for the leadership literature and for employee safety outcomes, suggesting an array of possibilities for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-106
Number of pages26
JournalAcademy of Management Discoveries
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Academy of Management Discoveries.

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