How To (and How Not To) Assess the Integrity of Managers (19 pages)

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Vugt, Hogan, & Kaiser, 2008). The solution to most of the survival problems faced by early humans
required collective action—to hunt large game, to ward off predators, to repel invading tribes.
Consequently, we think of leadership as an adaptive solution to the problem of coordinating
collective effort. We believe that leadership emerged as a mechanism for influencing individuals to
transcend their short-term selfish interests and work together for the long-term welfare of the group.
In this view, leadership involves building a team and guiding it to outperform its competition
(Hogan, Curphy, & Hogan, 1994; Hogan & Kaiser, 2005; Van Vugt et al., 2008).

Integrity and Leadership

Peter Drucker argued that abiding by business ethics and displaying personal integrity are prereq-
uisites for leadership; although ethics and integrity may not ensure effective leadership, Drucker
claimed that their absence precluded it (Cohen, 2009). Research on implicit leadership theories,
organizational trust, transformational leadership, leader-member exchange, and the emerging evo-
lutionary perspective all support this claim. The findings indicate that leaders need to be viewed as
having high integrity in order to win the trust of followers, and when leaders are seen as lacking
integrity, it harms the trust and relationships needed to build and maintain a team.

Research on implicit leadership theories suggests that people have innate cognitive categories

that they use to evaluate another person’s leadership potential (Lord & Maher, 1993). This work
shows that the single most important evaluative criterion for deciding whether someone is worth
following or not is “honesty,” although “fair” and “believable” are also high on the list (Lord, Foti,
& De Vader, 1984). Consider, for example, two of the most respected U.S. presidents: Abraham
Lincoln is remembered as “honest Abe,” and George Washington is said to have “never told a lie.”
Further, the centrality of honesty in perceptions of leadership applies around the world. The GLOBE
study of leadership in 62 cultures found that “trustworthy,” “just,” and “honest” were universally
desired attributes (Den Hartog, House, Hanges, Ruiz-Quintanilla, & Dorfman, 1999). In fact, across
all cultures, “trustworthy” was the attribute that followers rated as most important for effective
leadership.

Research on organizational trust emphasizes the importance of managerial trustworthiness

(Shockley-Zalabak, Ellis, & Winograd, 2000). A meta-analysis of this literature shows that the
degree to which employees trust their direct supervisor is correlated with job satisfaction, job
performance, and exercising discretionary effort (Dirks & Ferrin, 2002). There were also effects for
trust in management in general, but they were small compared to the effects of trust in direct
supervisors. The authors speculated that trust in one’s boss may be the strongest determinant of
employee outcomes in the workplace.

Research on transformational leadership also highlights the role of integrity. Transformational

leadership emphasizes a collective vision, considers the needs of individual followers, and helps
them align their self-interests with collective interests. In his original formulation of the concept,
Burns (1978) emphasized moral development. Bass and Steidlmeier (1999) argued that transfor-
mational leadership depends on the character of leaders, the values reflected in their visions, and the
morality of their methods. Indeed, followers’ perceptions of transformational leadership are closely
related to their perceptions of a leader’s integrity (Parry & Proctor-Thomson, 2002). Conversely,
integrity seems not to be central to charismatic leadership. In fact, researchers distinguish narcis-
sistic charismatics who seek self-advancement from prosocial charismatics who put the interests of
the organization ahead of themselves (Howell & Avolio, 1992; O’Connor, Mumford, Clifton,
Gessner, & Connelly, 1995).

Leader-member exchange (LMX) theory proposes that, in effective groups, leaders and follow-

ers develop relationships based on mutual trust and respect (Dansereau, Graen, & Hagan, 1975).
Meta-analysis confirms that the stronger the relationship, the more positive are follower outcomes
such as motivation, commitment, and performance (Gerstner & Day, 1997). LMX theory is derived
from social exchange theory (Blau, 1964), which maintains that people remain in relationships only
if they feel what they receive from a relationship is proportional to what they put into it.
Subordinates’ sense of being treated fairly is the core of the concept of engagement. When

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KAISER AND HOGAN

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