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Leading with emotional labor

by Ronald H. Humphrey, Jeffrey M. Pollack, Thomas Hawver
Journal of Managerial Psychology ()

Abstract

Purpose – This paper seeks to argue that leaders perform emotional labor whenever they display emotions in an attempt to influence their subordinates’ moods and motivations. Design/methodology/approach – This is a conceptual paper that integrates the literature on leadership with the research on emotional labor. Findings – This paper develops 15 propositions that distinguish emotional labor performed by leaders from that performed by front-line service workers. Research limitations/implications – The paper suggests that leading with emotional labor is a fruitful research topic, and that considerable research could be done in this area. Practical implications – Instead of conducting business in a non-emotional, “business-like manner”, leaders would benefit by expressing their emotions in the workplace. Emotionally expressive leaders are more charismatic and are better motivators. Originality/value – This is the first paper to develop a theoretical model that describes how leaders perform emotional labor; thus the propositions are original.

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