Do Stronger Ties with Peers & Bosses Mean Stronger Relationships with Subordinates? Suprisingly Yes!

Topics: Leadership; Job Attitudes; Employee Satisfaction; Employee Turnover  Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology, Volume 95(6), November 2010, pp. 1071-1084.
Article: Well-connected Leaders: The Impact of Leaders’ Social Network Ties on LMX and Members’ Work Attitudes
Authors: V. Venkataramani; S.G. Green and D.J. Schleicher
Reviewed by: Mary Alice Crowe-Taylor

Leaders have upward ties to their bosses and lateral ties to their peers in their organization, so they are embedded within the organization’s social network. In this study, those 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, this 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 flip side, what about the leaders who had less network connections (not as sought out for advice by peers; had weaker ties to their bosses)? Well, they 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).

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 among their members. Their leaders and the organization as a whole would reap the benefits of greater ties (stronger leader-member exchange).

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. Additionally, they employed statistics which were correct given the complexity of their model and the data. 

Well-connected leaders: The impact of leaders’ social network ties on LMX and members’ work attitudes.Detail Only Available  Venkataramani, Vijaya; Green, Stephen G.; Schleicher, Deidra J.; Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 95(6), Nov, 2010. pp. 1071-1084.