Understanding how leaders’ humility promotes followers’ emotions and ethical behaviors: Workplace spirituality as a mediator

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Understanding how leaders’ humility promotes followers’ emotions and ethical behaviors: Workplace spirituality as a mediator
Journal of Positive Psychology

We propose a meditational model that explains why and how leaders’ humility manifests into followers’ empathy, gratitude, and ethical behaviors. Building on social information-processing theory (SIP), we hypothesize that, when a leader has a high level of humility, his or her followers receive signals that increase perceptions of workplace spirituality, which fosters an environment of ethical behavior, empathy, and gratitude. We collected time-lagged survey data (three time intervals, each a month apart) from employees and their colleagues (n = 286) in nine organizations in Pakistan’s telecom, education, and industrial sectors. Using structural equation modeling (SEM), we show that a leader’s humility predicts his or her employees’ ethical behaviors, empathy, and gratitude. Moreover, perceptions of workplace spirituality mediated the time-lagged effects of a leader’s humility on his or her followers’ ethical behaviors, empathy, and gratitude. Our findings largely support our theoretical foundations that indicate that a leader’s humility has important implications for his or her followers’ positive emotions and behaviors through a unique process involving workplace spirituality.

Citation: 
The Journal of Positive Psychology, Received 19 Jul 2018, Accepted 29 Apr 2019, Published online: 09 May 2019

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