Emotional exhaustion is a threat to standard operations, particularly in organizations in which physical safety is at risk. High moral intensity is inherent in such organizations due to the magnitude of consequences associated with ethical/unethical conduct. The authors proposed a psychological process in which ethical leadership affects emotional exhaustion directly and indirectly through team cohesion. As military operational contexts typically are (or frequently have the potential to become) high moral intensity situations, the authors tested their model among 338 military personnel deployed in combat zones. They found that: (1) team cohesion partially mediated the relationship between ethical leadership and emotional exhaustion, and (2) this psychological process of direct and indirect effects of ethical leadership did not hold among individuals approaching the low end of conscientiousness.
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