The Importance of Well-Connected Organizational Leaders

employees walking into work
Topic(s): employee satisfaction, job attitudes, leadership, turnover
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (2010)
Article: Well-connected Leaders: The Impact of Leaders’ Social Network Ties on LMX and Members’ Work Attitudes
Authors: V. Venkataramani, S.G. Green, D.J. Schleicher
Reviewed by: Mary Alice Crowe-Taylor

Leaders have upward ties to their managers and lateral ties to their organizational peers, so they are well-embedded within an organization’s social network. 

In this study (Venkataramani, Green, & Schleicher, 2010), leaders who had higher quality ties with their bosses and were more likely to be sought out by their peers for organization-related advice, reaped many benefits in their ties with their employees. That is, their members (their subordinates and others they influenced) perceived them as having greater status in the organization. 


Additionally, the above mentioned member perception of status was positively related to the leader-member exchange (LMX). That is, the exchange relationship was more trusting, respectful, and mutually obligatory when the perception of leader status was greater.

On the other hand, what about the leaders who had fewer network connections, that is, those not as sought out for advice by peers and those with weaker ties to their bosses? These leaders were perceived as having less status and their exchange relationships with their employees were weaker as well: there was less trust, respect, or obligation in the relationship.

This study used innovative data gathering methods like peer advice networks for measuring centrality in social networks, and they used multiple sources of data, giving their results greater credibility. 


The researchers of this study suggest that organizations need to support informal networking between leaders, their peers, and their bosses to strengthen perceptions of leader status. Organizational leaders and the organization as a whole would reap the benefits of greater ties (stronger leader-member exchange).


Venkataramani, V., Green, S. G., Schleicher, D. J. (2010). Well-connected leaders: The impact of leaders’ social network ties on LMX and members’ work attitudes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(6), 1071-1084.