Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Leader-Member Exchange and Leadershp-Induced Stress: When and How Coworker Support Matters

Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Leader-Member Exchange and Leadershp-Induced Stress: When and How Coworker Support Matters

Article excerpt


This study examined the extent to which Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) can predict leadership-induced stress (stress that employees experience which they believe is caused by their organizational leaders), and whether and how coworker support intervene in this prediction. A total of 620 junior and middle cadre employees, who were randomly selected, participated in the study. Three hypotheses were tested with a moderated (hierarchical) regression analysis, three simple regression analysis, and a multiple regression analysis. Results show that LMX significantly predicted leadership-induced stress, and that there is no significant interaction of LMX and coworker support on leadership-induced stress. However, coworker support significantly mediated the influence of LMX on leadership-induced stress. The findings were discussed in the light of reviewed theoretical and empirical literatures while implications for the realities of organizational leadership and employees' report of stress vis-à-vis their well being, especially in organizations in the developing world, were highlighted.


Organizational leaders are understood to maintain two major groups of subordinate employees: the in-group and the out-group. This categorization underlies the Leader- Member Exchange (LMX) concept. Defined as the unique, relationship-based social exchange between leaders and members (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995), LMX incorporates important, exchange-based issues such as performance ratings and pay increases (Scan dura, 1999), promotion decisions, emotional support, trust, favours, interpersonal communications, work and organization-related information, among others. According to the LMX theory, the in-group members typically have better relationships with their leaders and receive more of these workrelated factors in more favourable proportions compared to out-group members (Scandura, 1999) with whom the same leaders maintain low-quality relationships.

Research on LMX has documented many positive outcomes for employees in high-quality LMX including higher levels of job satisfaction, stronger performance appraisal ratings, and lower levels of stress (Gerstner & Day, 1997; Harris & Kacmar, 2006). Although literature also supports a negative relationship between LMX and stress (Harris & Kacmar, 2006), the attributions that employees make for such stress are important, especially in dealing with the problem. Very important among such possible attributions is organizational leadership. To the extent that organizational leaders are charged with the all-important responsibility of overseeing employee activities in the workplace, the manner in which organizational leaders carry out this responsibility has huge implications for the plight of the employee. It is thus likely that employees experience stress as a result of actions and inactions of their bosses with the consequence that they believe their stress caused by these bosses. This study refers to such a stress as leadership-induced stress and defines leadership-induced stress as a state in which an employee perceives his or superior in the workplace as a challenge to his or her wellbeing in the workplace.

While several studies (e.g., Van Dyne, Jehn, & Cummings, 2002; Harris & Kacmar, 2006) identify constant and direct flow of information and support from supervisors as factors which help employees eliminate role stressors such as ambiguity and uncertainty, low-quality LMX employees, who do not have access to such privileges, are not likely to be free of these role stressors. Since such challenges would be reckoned by employees as originating - not just from the uncertainty or ambiguity and hence the dissatisfying nature of the job, or from the unfairness of the organizational processes, but - from the organizational leader who is perceived to have made them so, it is likely that these employees readily situate the resulting stress in such a leader. …

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