Leaders who fail to achieve group or organizational goals risk losing follower endorsement. We propose a model in which leader characteristics (leader group prototypicality—the leader’s representativeness of group identity) and goal definition (a maximal goal that ideally would be reached vs. a minimal goal that ought to be reached) interact to affect leadership perceptions after failure. Group prototypical (vs. non-prototypical) leaders are proposed to receive more trust in leadership and, therefore, to be evaluated as more effective by their followers after failing to achieve a maximal goal, but not after failing to achieve a minimal goal. This model was supported in a series of four studies including experimental, field, and scenario paradigms. In addition, we showed that this model holds only after failure and not after success, and more for followers who identify strongly (vs. weakly) with their group.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2007.04.002, hdl.handle.net/1765/13578
ERIM Top-Core Articles
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Giessner, S., & van Knippenberg, D. (2008). "License to Fail": Goal Definition, Leader Group Prototypicality, and Perceptions of Leadership Effectiveness after Leader Failure. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 105(1), 14–35. doi:10.1016/j.obhdp.2007.04.002