Vision communication is considered to be essential for leaders to mobilize followers, but knowledge of how and why vision communication may influence followers is scarce. We argue that visions may invite followers to create an ideal self (a desired image of the self). Subsequent consideration of this ideal self may motivate followers to make the ideal self (and thus the vision) reality. Furthermore, we propose that visions that focus on followers (by addressing followers personally and involving them in the vision) are more likely to lead to the creation of an ideal self and hence to higher follower performance than visions that do not focus on followers. Moreover, we argue that this effect is particularly strong for followers with a promotion self-regulatory focus, a focus on reaching ideals and ideal selves, because promotion focus causes sensitivity to the presence or absence of ideals (Higgins, 1987, 1996, 1997). The results of two experiments support our predictions.

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Keywords Leadership, Possible self, Self-concept, Self-regulatory focus, Vision
Persistent URL,
Series ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal The Leadership Quarterly
Stam, D.A, van Knippenberg, D.L, & Wisse, B. (2010). Focusing on followers: The role of regulatory focus and possible selves in visionary leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 21(3), 457–468. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2010.03.009