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J Appl Psychol. 2019 Jun 13. doi: 10.1037/apl0000418. [Epub ahead of print]

Leadership in the locker room: How the intensity of leaders' unpleasant affective displays shapes team performance.

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Haas School of Business.
Rotman School of Management.


Research has documented conflicting evidence about the relationship between a leader's unpleasant affective displays and team performance. Drawing on the dual threshold model of anger, we propose a novel explanation for this paradox such that the positive relationship between leaders' unpleasant affect and team performance turns negative at high levels of intensity. We examined our hypothesis in a multilevel field study of 304 halftime locker room speeches involving 23 high school and college basketball teams and a follow-up experiment. Our results show support for the prediction and suggest that the curvilinear effect of leaders' unpleasant affective displays may be explained by team members' redirection of attention and approach, which is positively associated with team members' effort at moderate levels of leader unpleasantness but leads to lower effort at high and low levels of leader unpleasantness. We discuss the theoretical contributions for scholarship on leadership, emotions as social information theory, and practical implications of the results. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).


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