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Leadership & People
Research insight
May 13, 2021

Does leader humor style matter and to whom?

Abstract:

Purpose: The interest on leader humor styles is recent. By applying a trustworthiness framework, the authors examine (1) how leader humor styles contribute to performance and deviance via trust in the supervisor and (2) who benefits/suffers the most from different leader humor styles. Design/methodology/approach: The authors tested their hypotheses in a sample of 428 employee–supervisor dyads from 19 organizations operating in the services sector. Findings: Affiliative and self-enhancing leader humor styles are particularly beneficial for employees with low core-self-evaluations, helping them develop trust in the supervisor and consequently improving their performance. An aggressive leader humor style, via decreased trust in the supervisor, reduces performance, regardless of employees' core self-evaluations. Self-enhancing and self-defeating leader humor styles also present significant relationships with organizational deviance. Research limitations/implications: Limitations include the cross-sectional design and the limited number of mechanisms examined. Practical implications: Organizations need to train leaders in the use of humor and develop a culture where beneficial humor styles are endorsed, while detrimental humor styles are not tolerated. Originality/value: These findings contribute to the literatures on trust and humor, by showing that the use of humor is not as trivial as one could initially think, particularly for those with low core self-evaluations, and by expanding our knowledge of the mechanisms by which different leader humor styles may influence performance and deviance.

Authors: Pedro Neves, Gökhan Karagonlar


You can find the research article here.

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