Leadership and uncertainty: how role ambiguity affects the relationship between leader group prototypicality and leadership effectiveness
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In social identity analyses of leadership the role of leader group prototypicality (the extent to which the leader is representative of the collective identity) in leadership effectiveness is emphasized. We extend this analysis by identifying role ambiguity as a situational influence that feeds into the desire to reduce uncertainty, as a moderator of the relationship between leader group prototypicality and indicators of leadership effectiveness (perceived effectiveness, job satisfaction and turnover intentions). Role ambiguity is proposed to lead people to turn to their group memberships, making leadership effectiveness more contingent on the extent to which leaders are group prototypical. Results of a survey of n=368 employees of four Italian companies supported this hypothesis. Role ambiguity and leader group prototypicality interacted in predicting perceived effectiveness, job satisfaction and turnover intentions, such that leader group prototypicality was more strongly related to leadership effectiveness for employees experiencing greater role ambiguity.