Title: The instrumentality of emotion in leader-subordinate relationships

Authors: Lars Glaso, Katrine Ekerholt, Sunniva Barman, Stale Einarsen

Addresses: University of Bergen, Institute of Social Science, Christiesgate 12, N – 5015, Bergen, Norway. ' University of Bergen, Institute of Social Science, Christiesgate 12, N – 5015, Bergen, Norway. ' University of Bergen, Institute of Social Science, Christiesgate 12, N – 5015, Bergen, Norway. ' University of Bergen, Institute of Social Science, Christiesgate 12, N – 5015, Bergen, Norway

Abstract: This study investigates emotion work in leader-subordinate relationships. The data were collected through semi-structured, in depth interviews of eight leaders and eight subordinates. All subjects reported suppressing, exaggerating or faking emotions during interactions. The motives for regulating emotions fell into four different categories: obeying emotional display rules; strategic use of emotions with intention of reaching specific goals; consideration of the work environment; and avoiding possible discomfort associated with the expression of inner feelings. The leaders referred to all four categories, while the subordinates explained their emotion work primarily as means of obtaining specific goals. The majority of the subordinates, but only one leader, reported that emotional dissonance negatively influenced job satisfaction, work performance and health, or increased the tendency towards withdrawal behaviour. The study has shown the importance of focusing on both parties involved in this particular relationship. Emotional regulation seems to be a prominent and complex facet of leader–subordinate relationships.

Keywords: leadership; emotions; subordinates; emotion work; motives; job satisfaction; work performance; health.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWOE.2006.010791

International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion, 2006 Vol.1 No.3, pp.255 - 276

Published online: 03 Sep 2006 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article