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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01881

Ethical Leadership and Follower Moral Actions: Investigating an Emotional Linkage

 Yajun Zhang1, Fangfang Zhou2 and  Jianghua Mao3*
  • 1School of Management, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China
  • 2School of Business Administration, Guizhou University of Finance and Economics, China
  • 3School of Business and Administration, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, China

The effectiveness of ethical leadership has been extensively investigated. However, compared to the outcomes of ethical leadership, we still lack enough knowledge about the mechanisms underlying ethical leadership and its outcomes. Drawing from social information processing theory, this paper explores an emotional explanation for the effectiveness of ethical leadership. Adopting a time-lagged research design with responses from 64 leaders and 289 followers, the present research found that ethical leadership invokes followers’ other-praising emotions and eventually enhances their moral actions. Further, leader core self-evaluation contributes to the positive effects of ethical leadership on followers’ other-praising moral emotions and subsequent moral actions. Theoretical and practical implementations of these observations were discussed.

Keywords: Ethical Leadership, other-praising moral emotions, Core self-evaluation, reporting unethical issues, unethical behavior

Received: 13 Dec 2017; Accepted: 13 Sep 2018.

Edited by:

Radha R. Sharma, Management Development Institute, India

Reviewed by:

Latha Poonamallee, The New School, United States
Marilyn Macik-Frey, Nicholls State University, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Zhang, Zhou and Mao. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Jianghua Mao, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, School of Business and Administration, Wuhan, China, maojh@hust.edu.cn