Based on the idea that leadership is a group process, we propose that followers' endorsement of a leader depends on particular leadership strategies being perceived to be best suited for maintaining or advancing group identity in the context of prevailing intergroup relations. Three experimental studies with different samples aimed to examine how socio-structural variables that define intergroup relations impact on leader–follower relations and on the support that followers give to leaders who adopt different approaches to manage intergroup relations. We demonstrate that after manipulating the status and the stability of intergroup relations followers endorse leaders who strategically engage in group-oriented behaviour that maps onto optimal identity-management strategies. These patterns mirrored differences across contexts in the perceived prototypicality. We conclude that intergroup relations influence leaders' strategic behaviour and followers' reaction to them. Findings highlight the importance of understanding leadership as both a within- and between-group process.
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