We question the longstanding assumption that charismatic leaders who initiate change are especially effective under uncertainty. Instead, we argue both change-focused and stability-focused leadership can be effective styles under uncertainty. Based on the social identity perspective of leadership and on uncertainty-identity reduction theory, we argue followers' feelings of self-uncertainty and the psychological meaningfulness of the team to one's self-concept are important moderating variables of the relationship between change-focused (vs. stability-focused) leadership on perceived leader effectiveness. In 3 studies (2 experiments and 1 time-lagged field study), we investigated how uncertainty and group membership importance affect followers' trust in change- or stability-focused leadership. We argue, and present evidence showing where a group is psychologically meaningful to a person's self-concept, people express greater trust in change-focused (charismatic) leadership when they feel uncertain, but followers for whom the group is less psychologically important trust stability-focused (noncharismatic) leadership more when their uncertainty is low. Implications for leader rhetoric and the role of uncertainty in organizational and political settings are discussed.

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doi.org/10.1037/gdn0000053, hdl.handle.net/1765/94860
ERIM Top-Core Articles
Group Dynamics: theory, research, and practice
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Rast, D., III, Hogg, M., & Giessner, S. (2016). Who trusts charismatic leaders who champion change? The role of group identification, membership centrality, and self-uncertainty. Group Dynamics: theory, research, and practice, 20(4), 259–275. doi:10.1037/gdn0000053