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The Influence Of Leadership On Followers’ And Leaders’ Responses To Stress: A Social Identity Lens

Kelly, Stuart (2022) The Influence Of Leadership On Followers’ And Leaders’ Responses To Stress: A Social Identity Lens. Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University.

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Abstract or description

Leadership represents one of the most significant organisational factors that impacts leaders’ and followers’ psychological outcomes and performance. One such leadership approach is based upon the principles of social identity. Social identities refer to the part of individuals’ self-concept associated with internalised group memberships. In other words, social identities are concerned with the extent to which people feel an emotional attachment and a sense of belonging to their organisation. Social identity leadership (SIL) has had an ever-growing presence within the leadership literature. SIL is concerned with how leadership is inextricably connected to group processes and that successful and enduring leadership develops, manages, and advances a shared group identity. Those in leadership positions tend to have particularly stressful jobs due to the high levels of demands and responsibilities associated with the leadership position Therefore, an important, yet often overlooked, component of leadership is to prepare leaders to manage stress. Transactional stress theory (TST) and cognitive-motivational-relational theory (CMRT) of stress and emotion are the two most prominent theories. These theories put forward the notion that stress is a transaction between an individual and their environment, and that individuals appraise stressors in relation to their goals, values, and beliefs.

There is limited research evidence examining the relationship between social identity leadership and stress. The main aim of the thesis is to investigate this relationship from a leader and follower perspective, in three studies, across four chapters. Chapter three (large European retail bank) provides cross-sectional evidence of SIL having a significant negative relationship with stress for followers (n =390) but not leaders (n =204). In addition, SIL added variance in addition to the most prominent leadership approach, transformational leadership (TL), for followers in relation to stress highlighting evidence for SIL going above TL in the negative relationship with stress. Chapter four built upon this study using the same measures as the previous chapter but was conducted longitudinally and within a different culture (New Zealand’s largest cooperative). The results of chapter four suggested that above and beyond leadership, social identity had a significant negative relationship with stress. These data point to the possibility that the sense of belonging to the organisation had a stronger effect in appraising stress for leaders (n = 21) over time than leadership. Chapter five (blue-chip UK food retailer) examined only leaders (n = 91) cross-sectionally and (n = 50) over time and adopted an objective measure of stress (hair cortisol) alongside self-reported stress to investigate the relationship with SIL. Both self-reported stress and objective stress were significantly negatively related to SIL. This supported chapter three’s findings and added a valuable contribution by measuring stress objectively in senior leaders of a large organisation. Theoretical explanations and implications of the findings are provided in chapter six relating to leadership (SIL and TL), social identity, social support, and stress including biophysiological markers. This thesis makes an original and significant contribution to social identity leadership, social identity, and stress literatures by examining how these psychosocial factors are related in large cross-cultural organisations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Sport and Exercise
Depositing User: Library STORE team
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2023 15:14
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 15:15

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