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Psychiatr Serv. 2017 Feb 1;68(2):115-122. doi: 10.1176/ Epub 2016 Oct 3.

The Humble Leader: Association of Discrepancies in Leader and Follower Ratings of Implementation Leadership With Organizational Climate in Mental Health.

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Dr. Aarons, Ms. Torres, and Ms. Finn are with the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla (e-mail: ). They are also with the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center, San Diego. Dr. Ehrhart is with the Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego. Dr. Beidas is with the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.



Discrepancies, or perceptual distance, between leaders' self-ratings and followers' ratings of the leader are common but usually go unrecognized. Research on discrepancies is limited, but there is evidence that discrepancies are associated with organizational context. This study examined the association of leader-follower discrepancies in Implementation Leadership Scale (ILS) ratings of mental health clinic leaders and the association of those discrepancies with organizational climate for involvement and performance feedback. Both involvement and performance feedback are important for evidence-based practice (EBP) implementation in mental health.


A total of 593 individuals-supervisors (leaders, N=80) and clinical service providers (followers, N=513)-completed surveys that included ratings of implementation leadership and organizational climate. Polynomial regression and response surface analyses were conducted to examine the associations of discrepancies in leader-follower ILS ratings with organizational involvement climate and performance feedback climate, aspects of climate likely to support EBP implementation.


Both involvement climate and performance feedback climate were highest where leaders rated themselves low on the ILS and their followers rated those leaders high on the ILS ("humble leaders").


Teams with "humble leaders" showed more positive organizational climate for involvement and for performance feedback, contextual factors important during EBP implementation and sustainment. Discrepancy in leader and follower ratings of implementation leadership should be a consideration in understanding and improving leadership and organizational climate for mental health services and for EBP implementation and sustainment in mental health and other allied health settings.


Implementation; Leadership; Management; Mental health; Organizational climate; Perceptual distance

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