relation of specific leadership characteristics or behaviors to performance varies across situations. In fact, the classical studies on the Ohio State leadership scales of Consideration and Initiating Structure (see Kerr et al., 1974) and empirical work on Cognitive Resource Theory (CRT; see Fiedler & Garcia, 1987) each demonstrate that the relation of behavior to performance (path b in Fig. 1) varied across situations. More recently, Meyer, Dalal, and Bonaccio (2009) show that although conscientiousness is frequently uti- lized as a distal predictor of job performance, its predictive validity varied depending on whether the situation was ‘strong’ or ‘weak’, where strong situations can reduce the criterion-related validity of individual differences by restricting (or homogenizing) the expression of personality, and thereby its effects on behavior (see also Meyer et al., 2010). For instance, strong situations may have clearly defined behavioral scripts that automatically direct behavior when specific situations occur (Gioia & Poole, 1984). In weaker situations however, there may be greater latitude in how one chooses to pursue their goals and objectives. This effect is shown clearly by Reis, Sheldon, Gable, Roscoe, and Ryan (2000), who used event-level sampling methodologies among college students to examine situational effects on behavior. They found that although individual differences in autonomy-needs satisfac- tion influenced how students strived to fulfill their needs (e.g., socializing to fulfill interpersonal needs), the occurrence of these behaviors varied across the work week, occurring the most over the weekend where they were less constrained by strong work schedules. The significance of these works is that they imply a moderated link between individual differences (e.g., intelligence, personality) and leadership outcomes, rather than a stable direct influence of individual differences to outcome (i.e., path c in Fig. 1). They also illustrate the importance of event-level methodologies and process approaches for understanding the intrapersonal dynamics of motivational striving and the variability in how traits become manifested as behaviors at different points in time, such as across the work week (Dalal & Hulin, 2008; Reis et al., 2000).
Studies also show that different types of situations and work-related experiences can affect leadership skill development, and thereby act as moderators for how a leader’s experience translates into effective leadership performance. In fact, DeRue and Wellman (2009) found that when leaders were exposed to challenging work experiences that required them to analyze and think through complex problems, leaders learned more and demonstrated better work performance as they acquired new cogni- tive scripts and task strategies. However, when work challenges became too difficult, learning and performance declined as leaders became emotionally and cognitively overwhelmed. It is also worth noting that leaders must manage multiple competing tasks in their daily routines, and whether leaders can accomplish their tasks may depend upon dynamic intrapersonal processes such as one’s performance expectations for completing multiple tasks simultaneously (i.e., self-efficacy), current affect (e.g., anx- iety, frustration), and/or progress judgments (Schmidt & Dolis, 2009; Schmidt, Dolis, & Tolli, 2009; Seo, Barrett, & Bartunek, 2010). As such, events do not have uniform effects on leadership skill development or performance because the strength of a situation and the types of challenges that a leader may experience can vary widely from one moment to the next (Kozlowski et al., 2009; Meyer et al., 2010; Morgeson et al., 2010). In terms of our framework, these examples show that one has to examine the nature of an event, and the processes that underlie how leaders respond to different events, to understand how individual differ- ences (e.g., intelligence, experience, and goal orientations) relate to leadership performance.
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