Emotional Aspects of Leadership in the Modern Workplace

Emotional Aspects of Leadership in the Modern Workplace

Vaitsa Giannouli (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2568-4.ch002
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Abstract

Although leadership has been extensively examined in the field of industrial-organizational psychology, management and business, until now there is scarce research focusing on the different emotional aspects of the leaders and the influence that they may have on their subordinates. This review explores emotions in healthcare workplaces-hospitals through the prism of emotional intelligence, emotion regulation, emotional labor, job satisfaction, burnout, and anxiety. The above emotional aspects of employees are presented along with selected paradigms coming from the Greek and international modern healthcare management research. The chapter closes with future directions-research questions on leadership issues in the modern healthcare workplace.
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Introduction: Leaders And Subordinates In Modern Organizations

Leadership is considered to be a social influence process through which a leader affects thoughts, feelings, and behavior of other individuals called subordinates (Humphrey, 2002; Pirola-Merlo, Härtel, Mann, & Hirst, 2002). In the relevant scientific literature, leadership identifies mainly with the exercise of managerial or supervisory duties of the person in charge that is with the variety of behaviors used by the person in the leading position in order to influence the behavior of subordinates and to achieve the goals-objectives of the company that they have set or others have preset (Burch & Guarana, 2014; Hill & Jones, 2004; Chatzipanteli, 1998). However, it would be better to examine the concept of leadership as a behavior within the respective companies or organizations and through the prism of influence and interaction processes between two or more individuals characterized as the person exercising the influence (leader) and the people who receive this influence (subordinates-followers) (Chiu, Balkunid & Weinberg, 2016; Katz & Kahn, 1966; Piperopoulos, 2007).

Following this separation as in all prior studies, we can adopt the double grouping and examine individuals as belonging either to the group of the leaders or the subordinates. In recent years, a new theoretical trend has appeared in psychological research about working environments, which examines the leadership holistically and accepts that it is a complex, dynamic and mostly interactive relational process with impact and influence, not only limited to the leader, but influence that includes also the subordinates and the general social group (Avolio, 2005; House, 1996). In general, the interaction between leaders and subordinates gives emphasis on the examination of the feelings of the involved individuals and the effect they have not only on their own attitudes, cognition and behavior (Bryman, 1996), but mainly on the attitudes and behavior of other people in the workplace (Montano et al., 2016; Van Kleef, 2009; Van Kleef, Homan & Cheshin, 2012).

We must admit that emotions are not simple products of intra-individual processes (Lang, 1984; Power & Dalgleish, 1997), but also products of social processes that are not just isolated individual reactions. In fact, they should be regarded as social phenomena, since the causes of emotions are interpersonal and even culturally related with strong interpersonal consequences to other people (Parkinson, 1996; Parkinson, Fischer & Manstead, 2004). Today based on the above there is a growing interest in shaping the theory and research in workplaces through the prism of interpersonal relationships between leaders and subordinates with emphasis on the emotional dimension (Ashkanasy, Härtel & Zerbe, 2000; Garcia-Prieto, Mackie & Smith, 2007; Kupers & Weibler, 2008; Lewis, 2000).

However, the number of relevant research addressing the workplace as an ‘emotional space’ is still limited, while the amount of research emphasizing the unequal nature of these relations, mistakenly focuses on the one-way effect of socio-emotional capacities of leaders over their subordinates (Bono et al., 2007; George, 2000; Keller, 2003; Montano et al., 2016; Rowold, Borgmann & Bormann, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Leadership: The ability of an individual-leader or organization to guide other individuals-subordinates, teams or entire organizations.

Anxiety: An emotion that resembles an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, which is usually accompanied by somatic complaints.

Burnout: The ultimate depletion that occurs in the physical and mental powers of the individual who wants to achieve unrealistic job objectives.

Job Satisfaction: The positive feelings and thoughts that both leaders and subordinates may have towards their job.

Emotional Regulation: The ability to respond to the ongoing demands of experience with the range of emotions in a manner that is socially tolerable and sufficiently flexible to permit spontaneous reactions as well as the ability to delay spontaneous reactions as needed.

Emotional Intelligence: The capacity that leaders and subordinates demonstrate when they recognize their own and other people's emotions, when they discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and when they use information relating to emotions in order to guide their own and other’s thinking and behavior.

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