Which Leadership Style Leads to Burnout?
Leadership style is often indicative of the type of emotional response strategy that leaders will use when interacting with their employees. According to the researchers (Arnold, Connelly, Walsh, & Martin Ginis, 2015), leaders engage in three primary response strategies: surface acting, deep acting, and genuine emotion. They say that the type of response strategy will affect the likelihood that a leader will experience burnout. Here is a brief description of each type of acting that leaders may use:
- Surface acting is when a leader displays one emotion to his or her employees, while internally experiencing a different emotion.
- Deep acting occurs when a leader can manage his or her internal emotions to meet the needs of a situation.
- Genuine emotion is an outward display of a leader’s spontaneous reaction to a situation.
LEADERSHIP STYLE AND EMOTIONAL REGULATION
Traditionally, so-called “transformational leaders” (visionaries who inspire others) are known for their ability to utilize deep acting and genuine emotion to help guide their employees. These methods are effective because leaders appear more genuine when dealing with their employees.
Similarly, “transactional leaders” (typical managers who try to maintain the status-quo) also use deep acting but are more likely to engage in surface acting as well. While surface acting is considered less emotionally demanding, this type of leadership can be viewed as superficial, which may lead to employees becoming less trusting of management and less engaged in their work.
Finally, “laissez-faire leaders” (passive leaders who grant autonomy and support) are most likely to use genuine emotion when dealing with employees. Genuine emotion is the least emotionally demanding method and, while beneficial in some circumstances, is used by laissez-faire leaders more to avoid doing mental work rather than to solve problems. This form of leadership is considered the most organizationally destructive and offers little value to employees.
WHICH LEADERSHIP STYLE WORKS BEST?
Researchers found that transformational leaders were more likely to use deep acting and genuine emotion. Transactional leaders were more likely to use deep acting and surface acting; however, surface acting was not an indicator of burnout. A strong association was found between laissez-faire leadership and using genuine emotion. Oddly enough, the use of genuine emotion was found to have the strongest relationship with burnout, indicating that transformational leaders and laissez-faire leaders are more likely to experience burnout than their surface acting peers. These results were opposite of what the researchers expected.
LEADERSHIP STYLE AND THE BIG PICTURE
Organizations want leaders who can motivate, engage, and instruct. Clearly, research indicates that the laissez-faire leader may not be as well suited for these purposes. Furthermore, although transactional leaders may be effective at getting employees to work, it is clearly the transformational leadership style that offers organizations the largest upside. Finally, while transformational leaders are commonly thought of as the best at their craft, they too are human and must be cautious not to emotionally overexert themselves when working and potentially risk burnout.
Developmental Job Experience Might Not Be for Everyone
Organizations often give top performing employees developmental job experience in order to prepare them for the next level. These experiences are useful for enhancing managerial skills, and employees with a preference for learning new things are likely to reap more benefits from them. However, research on the benefits of developmental experience shows mixed results.
WHAT IS DEVELOPMENTAL JOB EXPERIENCE?
The authors defined developmental job experience (DJE) as an individual’s experience of taking on demanding assignments that offer opportunity for learning and leadership. The extent to which an assignment brings DJE can depend on how the particular employee views the opportunity in his or her own mind. Developmental assignments usually share some common features: unfamiliar responsibilities, opportunity to create change, high levels of responsibility, working across boundaries, and managing diversity.
DJE is associated with growth and future benefits as well as with substantial risks and uncertainty. Depending on whether an individual perceives the assignment as a challenge or a threat, combined with their ability to use coping skills, he or she will experience pleasant or unpleasant feelings. These feelings lead to an overall positive or negative outcome. The authors examined advancement potential as a positive outcome and turnover intention as a negative outcome in the study. The authors explained that because DJE can contribute to both pleasant and unpleasant feelings at the same time, both positive and negative outcomes can occur.
WHAT DOES DEVELOPMENTAL EXPERIENCE DO TO EMPLOYEES?
Results confirmed that when employees perceive that their job contains more developmental features, they also experience higher levels of both pleasant and unpleasant feelings. Pleasant feelings promote engagement (or how dedicated employees are to their work) and creativity, and it’s actually because of these resulting pleasant feelings that developmental experiences are associated with higher advancement potential. The authors also found that when employees experience pleasant feelings, they also have lower levels of turnover intention. In the opposite direction, unpleasant feelings lead to defensive behavior and ineffective coping and were associated with higher turnover intention. In fact, it’s because of these negative feelings that developmental experience is associated with turnover intention.
The researchers also studied the role that emotional intelligence plays in developmental experience. They found that when employees had higher levels of emotional intelligence, unpleasant feelings did not lead to higher turnover intention, as it did when employees had lower levels of emotional intelligence.
TAKEAWAYS FOR ORGANIZATIONS
First, it is recommended to have organizational practices in place to support those carrying out developmental assignments. This will help promote pleasant feelings in employees.
Similarly, organizations should develop a climate where errors and risk-taking are tolerated. Thus, employees are likely to experience fewer unpleasant feelings.
Also, organizations can identify employees with high emotional intelligence and give them more opportunities for developmental experience. Employees with low emotional intelligence can be trained to improve their emotional intelligence by enhancing their interpersonal skills regarding recognition and control of emotions.
Last but not least, it is important to monitor the amount and degree of developmental experience that employees are receiving, in order to make sure no one is overwhelmed by the challenges associated with developmental assignments.
Managing Your Emotions: Four Simple Steps to Success
Fact: All people think negative thoughts from time to time.
We may feel sad or gloomy, or find ourselves in a funk that’s hard to shake. We’re human; it happens. Attempting to suppress such feelings (or even worse, buying into them) can leave a person feeling drained.
Strong leaders know that it’s okay to think undesirable thoughts on occasion. But being a strong person means keeping things in perspective and not letting these thoughts take over. Managing your emotions is a key skill that can benefit everyone, both personally and professionally.
Susan David and Christina Congleton, the authors of Emotional Agility, offer four practices that can help you manage your emotions and tackle negative thoughts in a healthy and productive way.
- Recognize your Patterns: Pay attention to signs that negative thoughts and emotions are beginning to take over and cloud your better judgment.
- Label your Thoughts and Emotions: This allows you to see your negative thoughts as transient emotional responses that come and go.
- Accept your Thoughts and Emotions: Validate your feelings of frustration rather than merely brushing them aside. Allow yourself to experience negative emotions in response to important topics or difficult situations.
- Act on your Values: Once you’ve given your feelings the credence they deserve, you free up time to achieve your goals and become the person you hope to be.
Following these four practices can make the process of managing your emotions much easier, removing the stumbling blocks that prevent you from achieving your highest potential.
Quantitative Evidence that the Emotional Labor in Jobs is Easier with Emotional Intelligence (IO Psychology)
Topic: Emotional Intelligence
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (SEP 2011)
Article: The Primacy of Perceiving: Emotion Recognition Buffers Negative Effects of Emotional Labor
Authors: Myriam N. Bechtold, Sonja Rohrmann, Irene E. De Pater, and Bianca Beersma
Reviewed by: Mary Alice Crowe-Taylor, Ph.D.
Are jobs that require emotional labor seemingly everywhere? Well, since the service industry continues to be a growing sector of all western economies, and jobs in the service industry often do, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Employees in these jobs must manage their own feelings in order to display correct emotions for job performance. For example, to be effective, nurses need to display a range of positive emotions, and not many negative ones. This emotion regulation constitutes emotional labor and can be quite stressful.
Previous research has shown that this job-related stress can result in low work engagement (an indicator of job-related motivation and well-being) which in turn can result in absenteeism, low organizational commitment, low job satisfaction, fewer organizational citizenship behaviors, even lower performance.
On the other end of the continuum, highly engaged employees experience greater motivation and well-being at work. They are perceived as authentic, empathetic, and dedicated to delivering a high quality performance for customers.
Therefore, EMPLOYERS need to find ways to reduce the negative effects of emotional labor and therefore increase work engagement in their employees. In this study of service providers (specifically hospice nurses and police officers), these researchers found that those with higher levels of emotion recognition (the ability to read others’ emotions) experienced less stress from the emotional labor inherent to their jobs. Four weeks later, they also reported greater work engagement than those with lower levels of emotion recognition.
So what are the takeaways from this study? Stated succinctly, if you want to decrease the stress your employees experience from the emotional labor required by their jobs, train them in emotional intelligence. Ensure that emotion recognition is part of this training. Other options? Hire employees who are already high in emotional intelligence, specifically emotion recognition.
Some organizations claim that it is enough to instruct their employees on which emotions they should display to customers. However, multifaceted or recurring customer interactions require more than general emotion display policies. These interactions require employees to be sensitive to customers’ changing or ambivalent mood states. That is, emotion recognition is often required in order for customer interactions to be less stressful and more satisfactory for both employees and customers.
Bechtold, M. N., Rohrmann, S., De Pater, I. E., & Beersma, B. (2011). The primacy of perceiving: Emotion recognition buffers negative effects of emotional labor. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(5), 1087-1094.
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
Keep Cool: The Effectiveness of Avoiding Anger and Maintaining Poise in Negotiations
Topic: Conflict, Emotional Intelligence, Human Resource Management
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (SEP 2011)
Article: Hot or Cold: Is Communicating Anger or Threats More Effective in Negotiation?
Authors: Sinaceur, M., Van Kleef, G. A., Neale, M. A., Adam, H., & Haag, C.
Reviewed By: Thaddeus Rada
Although there are few certainties in organizational life, the presence of conflict is one facet of organizational dynamics that is virtually guaranteed to occur from time to time. When conflict does occur, there is likely to be a negotiation process between the parties involved to resolve it, and as part of this negotiation process, two things that may be communicated are anger or threats. Although these communication strategies are similar, there are some key differences between them that may impact their effectiveness in negotiations. A new paper by Marwan Sinaceur and colleagues explores these differences.
After an initial pilot study, the authors conducted three experiments to assess the effectiveness of conveying anger or threats in negotiations. Among the authors’ hypotheses, they suggested that threats (i.e. “If you do not submit your report by Friday, there will be x consequence”) would be more effective than anger at obtaining concessions in negotiations, and that threat would be mediated by poise. The authors note that anger is more emotion-based, while threats are more calculated and emotionally-neutral. This relates to the hypothesis of poise mediating the threat-concessions relationship: the authors believe that the calmer, relatively controlled nature that may characterize the communication of threats may be viewed more favorably than a more dramatic, emotional communication of anger.
Results of the experiments supported the authors’ hypotheses. The main practical implication of these findings is that it is beneficial to be rational and focus on the problem itself in negotiations, as opposed to being emotionally involved and focusing on the other participant personally. By conjunction, organizational training programs that cover conflict resolution, and even informal instruction from managers to employees, might emphasize the importance of communicating rational threats, instead of anger, when confronted with conflict and disagreements in the workplace.
human resource management,organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
Group Job Satisfaction Determined by the Emotional Intelligence of Its Leader
Topic: Leadership, Teams, Emotional Intelligence, Job Satisfaction
Publication: Small Group Research (JAN 2011)
Article: Managers’ Trait Emotional Intelligence and Group Outcomes: The Case of Group Job Satisfaction
Authors: L. Zampetakis & V. Moustakis
Reviewed By: Allison B. Siminovsky
Regardless of the nature of an organization’s end goals, it is in any organization’s best interests to have employees that are satisfied with their jobs. Individual job satisfaction has been linked to increased performance and higher organizational loyalty, amongst other positive implications. It has been found in the past that individual job satisfaction and trait emotional intelligence, or one’s emotional self-awareness, are linked, as being able to identify and regulate one’s emotions has had positive effects on job satisfaction.
As organizational structure is becoming more and more group-focused, this study raises the possibility that the trait emotional intelligence of a leader could play a role in group job satisfaction. If such a relationship could be found, organizations could use this information to place those employees with high trait emotional intelligence in leadership roles, potentially boosting group job satisfaction and benefiting the organization as a whole.
Supporting the notion that groups tend to develop shared judgments and evaluations over time, the researchers found that the groups they studied developed unitary evaluations of their leaders’ emotional intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence: A tangled web of definitions, predictors, outcomes, and models
Publication: Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice
Article: Emotional Intelligence: Toward Clarification of a Concept
Author: C. Cherniss
Selected commentary authors: Kaplan, Cortina, and Ruark (2010); Antonakis, J. & Dietz, J. (2010)
Reviewed by: Samantha Paustian-Underdahl
Emotional Intelligence (EI) has been one of the most popular topics studied throughout the history of I/O psychology. Given its popularity, it has been defined and measured in several different ways throughout time, leading to some confusion and controversy in the field. Cherniss (2010) argues that despite these multiple definitions and models, most researchers generally agree on what EI is: ‘‘the ability to perceive and express emotion, assimilate emotion in thought, understand and reason with emotion, and regulate emotion in the self and others’’ (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2000, p. 396). Despite a common definition, some researchers model EI in different ways, with some arguing that EI is a kind of intelligence, meaning it is a set of related abilities like reasoning, problem-solving, and the processing of information (Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 1999) while others describe EI as a set of competencies or Emotional and Social Competencies (ESC), which are competencies that are clearly linked to EI (i.e., the perception, expression, understanding, and regulation of emotion in oneself and others). Cherniss (2010, p. 116) believes that there will always be a gray area around EI, however there he proposes one view of EI that encompasses multiple perspectives, “
that the core EI abilities, such as emotional perception, provide the foundation for emotional and social competencies such as ‘‘influence’’ or ‘‘stress tolerance.’’
Another concern amongst scholars is the validity of EI measures. Cherniss (2010) proposes that measures of EI can be divided into different categories: ability tests, self-report measures, and alternative measures. Amongst these categories of tests, Cherniss believes the MSCEIT (an ability test) has the strongest support for content validity and reliability, the Schutte’s self-report emotional intelligence test (SREIT) has high reliability (amongst self report tests), and multi-rater or “360” assessments are a promising alternative to these self-report and ability measures. While some of the EI tests are supported in the literature, there are several limitations including weak discriminant and divergent validity. Thus, Cherniss (2010) believes that new measures should be developed that take into account the context in which they will be used. Cherniss proposes that researchers and practitioners should consider more ecologically valid, behavior-based assessment strategies such as assessment centers, event-based interviews, and role-plays.
Finally, Cherniss (2010) discusses complications related to outcomes of EI and ESC. Recent research suggests that EI is positively associated with job performance. One study found a correlation of .43 between company rank and EI, and a correlation of .35 between merit salary increase percentage and EI as measured by the MSCEIT in a group of analysts and clerical employees (Lopes, Grewal, Kadis, Gall, & Salovey, 2006). However, Cherniss (2010) believes that, in many situations, certain ESCs may be stronger predictors of performance than EI. Further, social context is likely to moderate the relationship between EI or ESC and outcomes.
Kaplan, Cortina, and Ruark (2010) commend Cherniss for beginning to “disentangle the jumble” of models and definitions of EI. However, these authors criticize the general approach that has been taken by most IO psychologists in studying EI. They believe that much of the focus of EI, up to this point, has been on its predictive value, regardless of the outcomes it may or may not predict. They suggest a practical approach to studying EI by following an outcome-driven strategy. Instead of trying to determine ‘‘how well EI predicts,’’ a more useful strategy for organizational researchers will be to start with the outcome of interest and then work backwards to identify those particular socioemotional constructs that predict specific dimensions of that outcome. Their approach is outlined below:
Step 1: Carefully identify organizational phenomena and outcomes in which emotions and emotionally relevant processing are most relevant and impactful (like supportive leadership, participative decision making, etc).
Step 2: Explicitly define and map out the dimensionality of that outcome. Researchers of EI should (a) make distinctions among the particular components of EI, (b) make distinctions among the specific types or dimensions of the outcome domain, and (c) consider the moderating role of contextual factors.
Step 3: Identify the predictor variables that are most likely to explain or account for the specific dimensions of the outcome of interest. Kaplan et al (2010) agree with Cherniss who argued that focusing on any one definition or conceptualization of EI, to the exclusion of other important socioemotional variables, is likely to result in a failure to appropriately capturing all relevant predictors, thereby resulting in a less than optimal prediction of organizational outcomes.
Antonakis and Dietz (2010) agree with Cherniss that emotions are important for many organizational phenomena, however, they disagree with Cherniss regarding the incremental validity (or lack thereof) of EI and ESC over and above IQ (general intelligence) and personality tests. Antonakis and Dietz (2010) also raise concerns regarding Cherniss’s take on EI and ESCs:
They believe that there are important conceptual problems in both the definition of ESC and the distinction of ESC from EI, (b) that Cherniss’s interpretation of neuroscience findings as supporting the constructs of EI and ESC is outdated, and (c) that his interpretation of the famous marshmallow experiment as indicating the existence of ESCs is flawed.
In summary, Antonakis and Dietz (2010) generally believe that there is not considerable support for many of Cherniss’s arguments about EI. They feel that the only way EI research can move forward successfully would be to commit firmly to the ability definition of EI (e.g, Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 2000) and its consequences—then there is no need to include ESCs as they may unnecessarily complicate our understanding of EI.
Antonakis, J.& Dietz, J. (2010). Emotional Intelligence: On Definitions, Neuroscience, and Marshmallows, Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice, 3, 165-170.
Kaplan, S., Cortina, J. & Ruark, G. (2010). Oops. . . . We Did It Again: Industrial Organizational’s Focus on Emotional Intelligence Instead of on Its Relationships to Work Outcomes. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice, 3, 171–177.
Lopes, P. N., Grewal, D., Kadis, J., Gall, M., & Salovey, P. (2006). Evidence that emotional intelligence is related to job performance and affect and attitudes at work. Psichothema, 18, 132–138.
Mayer, J. D., Caruso, D. R., & Salovey, P. (1999). Emotional intelligence meets traditional standards for an intelligence. Intelligence, 27, 267–298.
Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., & Caruso, D. R. (2000). Models of emotional intelligence. In R.J. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of intelligence (2nd ed., pp. 396–420).
Does It Pay to Measure Emotional Intelligence During Selection?
Topic: Assessment, Emotional Intelligence, Staffing
Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment (MAR 2010)
Article: Emotional intelligence in selection contexts: Measurement method, criterion-related validity, and vulnerability to response distortion
Authors: N.D. Christiansen, J.E. Janovics, and B.P. Siers
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger
Emotional intelligence (EI) is a hot topic in both the personnel selection literature and the popular business press. While there are many available measures of EI, approaches to its measurement can be organized into two general categories: (1) self-report questionnaires and (2) performance-based measures. Self-report EI questionnaires are similar to personality measures in that they treat EI as non-cognitive traits and temperaments. Performance- or ability-based EI measures, on the other hand, treat EI as a largely ability-based trait that reflects how people process information related to their emotions and the emotions of others.
These two general approaches are both intended to measure EI. In a recent study, Christiansen, Janovics, and Siers (2010) compared two popular self-report measures of EI (TMMS and SREIT) to a performance-based EI measure (MSCEIT). They found evidence that the performance-based and self-report approaches operate quite differently and actually don’t appear to measure the same thing. For instance, the self-report measures were very strongly related to measures of personality, whereas the performance-based measure was not.
Conversely, the performance-based measures of EI were much more strongly related to cognitive ability than were the self-report measures. Christiansen et al. even note that it may not be appropriate to label self-report measures of EI as measures of “intelligence” at all! Another difference is that supervisory ratings of employee performance were predicted by scores on the performance-based EI measure but not by scores on the self-report measures. Finally, self-report measures of EI tend to be more easily “fakeable” than performance-based measures. That is, with the self-report measures, it is quite easy for job applicants to choose the “best” answer and endorse it – even if it is not representative of their typical behavior.
Overall, Christiansen et al.’s findings suggest that measures of EI – even performance-based measures – offer very little additional information about job applicants when measures of cognitive ability and personality are already used in the selection process. Self-report measures of EI are largely redundant when measures of personality are already present, and performance-based EI measures add little predictive power beyond cognitive ability and conscientiousness. This calls into question some claims in the popular press about the power of EI for predicting job performance and career success (e.g., Emotional Intelligence is even more important than cognitive ability).
It may also pose a dilemma for organizations currently using EI for employee selection.
Christiansen, N.D., Janovics, J. E., & Siers, B. P. (2010). Emotional intelligence in selection contexts: measurement method, criterion-related validity, and vulnerability to response distortion. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 18, 87-101.
Does Your Boss Give You The Blues?
Topic: Emotional Intelligence, Leadership
Publication: The Journal of Vocational Behavior Article:
Article: Negative emotions in supervisory relationships: the role of relational models.
Author: A.M. Game
Featured by: LitDigger
If you feel negative emotions resulting from your relationship with your boss, a recent article by Game (2008) provides an interesting theoretical explanation. The author proposes that the employee’s attachment style has something to do with it. Attachment?!?! Yes, you might remember this from your developmental psych class… secure, anxious-ambivalence, avoidance…ring a bell?
The researcher found some support for an exploratory model that investigated the possibility that various emotional reactions in employees may be attributed to differences in how supervisory behavior isinterpreted by employees. Such interpretations may be affected by employees’ long history of attachment relationships over their lifetime AND/OR their attachment style regarding their relationship with their supervisor. The study’s model wasn’t entirely supported, but there were some findings that lead us to conclude that further research investigating the relational context of employee-supervisor relationships is worthwhile if we want to learn more about the nature of employees’ negative emotions.
So (pretend YOU are the employee here), what you believe, perceive, and expect from your relationship with your supervisor may affect the degree to which you feel negative emotions from your supervisory relationship . . . AND your lifetime of experiences with relationships in general may also influence these emotions felt at work.
Do employees have the right to gripe about their boss if that’s the reason they’re feeling blue? Well, it is safe to say that it IS in the best interest of the organization to find a remedy for negative emotions in the workplace . . . otherwise, the organization is risking other unfavorable outcomes such as employee turnover, lack of motivation, or workplace deviance. So what’s the moral of the story?
Managing Grief in the Workplace
To shed light on the issue of grief in the workplace, Mary Ann Hazen (2008) provided several suggestions for how managers and organizations can effectively respond to grieving employees.
Several suggestions provided by Hazen (2008) are presented below.
(1) First, acknowledge that an employee is grieving (this seems simple, but it can have a major impact on the griever).
(2) Make themselves available to listen to the griever if he/she needs to talk (this communicates compassion and caring and may lead to less strain on the part of the employee).
(3) Recognize and make themselves aware of the common responses of grievers (e.g., understand how people typically respond as they move through stages of grief).
(1) Support and encourage the managerial behaviors listed above (managers cannot be effective without organizational support).
(2) Provide opportunities for employees and managers to learn about the grieving process (provide courses, workshops, referrals and/or employee assistance programs).
(3) And MOST IMPORTANTLY, recognize that although employee grief can hurt the organization as a whole (e.g., lost productivity), it’s not all just about dollars and cents!
Most successful organizations maintain “a sense of moral purpose, extra-organizational support, and excellent leadership” (p. 84), and this contributes to the emotional, psychological, and physical well-being of their employees.