In a multi-source, lagged design field study of 197 leader-follower dyads, we test a model that predicts positive interactive effects of visionary and empowering leadership on follower performance. Based on the paradox perspective, we argue that visionary and empowering leadership are synergistic in that their combination enables leaders to address a key paradox inherent to leader behavior identified by Waldman and Bowen (2016): Maintaining control while simultaneously letting go of control. We argue that visionary leadership addresses the former and empowering leadership addresses the latter pole of this pair of opposites. Hence, in line with paradox thinking, we posit that leaders will engender more positive effects on follower performance when they enact visionary and empowering leadership behaviors simultaneously and adopt a “both-and” approach, rather than focus on one of these behaviors without the other. Our results support our hypothesized interactive effect of visionary and empowering leadership on goal clarity, as well as a conditional indirect effect such that goal clarity mediates the interactive effect of visionary and empowering leadership on individual follower performance.

, , , ,,
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Department of Organisation and Personnel Management