In the present research we report results from two experimental studies that examine how feedback about leadership potential impacts leadership ambition, organizational commitment, and performance. Study 1 used an experimental vignette methodology that controls for prior performance. Results show that individuals who receive feedback that they have low potential to be a future leader have lower ambition and organizational commitment relative to those who receive feedback that they have high potential to be a future leader. Study 2 provides evidence of the causal behavioral effects of feedback about leadership potential using a real task effort environment. Results show that participants informed to be unlikely future leaders display lower performance in a subsequent task than participants informed to be likely future leaders. The findings from the two studies demonstrate that information about leadership potential affects subsequent ambition to become leaders as well as performance. We discuss the implications of these findings for the importance of followership, talent management, and leadership succession.

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ERIM Top-Core Articles
The Leadership Quarterly
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University