leadership effectiveness

If we consider the relationship between leaders and followers, leadership is not strictly limited to the actions of a single indi- vidual (Day, 2000; Pearce & Conger, 2003). Rather, it is a social process that involves an amalgamation of social interactions amongst a collection of agents, which shapes how leaders are perceived and evaluated (DeRue & Ashford, 2010). From a follower viewpoint, leadership effectiveness, and even the decision to identify an individual as a leader, is generated by a follower’s active construal of the leader and situation (Brown, Scott, & Lewis, 2004; DeRue & Ashford, 2010; Lord & Maher, 1991). Of importance for our purpose is how these dynamic processes can moderate the relationship between leadership behaviors and leadership per- ceptions, which we have illustrated in Fig. 1.

According to social–cognitive theories and implicit theories of leadership (Shondrick et al., 2010), social perceptions depend on implicit informational processing systems where perceptual information is categorized and matched according to existing schemas and prototypes (Lord, De Vader, & Alliger, 1986). Prototypes and schemas can be defined as abstract collections of attri- butes and qualities that characterize a group or category type (Lord, 1985). The importance of prototypes lies in the fact that human processing capacities are limited, and consequently, people pay attention to the patterns of traits or behaviors that are reflected in a particular prototype, rather than process each element individually (Foti & Hauenstein, 2007; Smith & Foti, 1998). In this way, one’s expectation or perception of a leader can be shaped by a prototype’s ability to “fill in” prototype- consistent information (e.g., a leader as someone who is tall, Caucasian, and is male). Thus, although reliance on prototypes allow perceivers to devote their cognitive resources to process other elements in the environment, such as information needed to perform group tasks (Brown et al., 2004; DeRue & Wellman, 2009; Fiske & Taylor, 2008), this process also provides individuals with a general framework that can guide one’s perception as to what defines a leader (Lord, Foti, & De Vader, 1984), as well as expectations for, and memory of leadership.

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