Physiological arousal variability accompanying relations-oriented behaviors of effective leaders: Triangulating skin conductance, video-based behavior coding and perceived effectiveness

Marcella A.M.G. Hoogeboom*, Aaqib Saeed, Matthijs L. Noordzij, Celeste P.M. Wilderom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

With the aim of extending the healthy physiological variability thesis to Leadership Studies, we examined the hypothesized links among leaders' within-person variability in physiological arousal, their task- and relations-oriented behaviors and their overall effectiveness. During regularly-held staff meetings, wristband skin sensors and video cameras captured synchronized physiological and fine-grained behavioral data of 36 leaders within one organization. Perceived leader effectiveness ratings were obtained from their followers. Multi-level log-linear analyses showed no elevated levels of arousal during the task-oriented behaviors of both the highly effective and the less effective leaders. The highly effective leaders showed a significantly greater likelihood of high levels of physiological arousal during positive and negative relations-oriented behaviors. We thus report a physiological correlate of relations-oriented leader behavior; especially among the most effective leaders, higher levels of arousal co-occurred with their positive and negative relations-oriented behavior in the meetings. Having used two high-resolution methods to advance insights about effective organizational leadership, this field study illuminates the importance of capturing the co-occurrence of within-person variability in leaders' bodily responses and their precisely measured behaviors over time in a functional social setting at work.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101493
JournalLeadership quarterly
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 25 May 2021

Keywords

  • Healthy variability
  • Leader effectiveness
  • Physiological arousal
  • Task- and relations-oriented leader behavior
  • Video-based observation

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