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The role of implicit leadership theories in the performance appraisals and promotion recommendations of leaders

by Birgit Schyns
Equal Opportunities International ()
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is explore the role that the implicit leadership theories held by followers and supervisors play in the performance appraisals of specific leaders, as well as in the promotion recommendations to higher levels of management that these leaders receive. In particular, the focus of this paper is on the degree of match between the general images held by supervisors and followers of how leaders are/should be (i.e. implicit leadership theories), and the concrete perceptions that these supervisors and followers have of the actual leaders in question. \r\n\r\nDesign/methodology/approach – Several propositions are established taking into account the moderating role of implicit leadership theories in the relationship between performance, on the one hand, and performance evaluation and promotion recommendations, on the other hand. These propositions are based on evidence of discrimination against women and ethnic minority groups when it comes to evaluations and promotion recommendations. Recommendations for organisational practice are derived from the issues discussed. \r\n\r\nFindings – When there is a poor match between a supervisor's implicit leadership theories and his or her perception of a subordinate leader, this leader's performance appraisal and promotion chances are believed to decrease. In a similar manner, the implicit leadership theories of followers may influence their appraisal of a leader's performance. \r\n\r\nOriginality/value – This is the first time that implicit leadership theories are connected to leaders’ careers. This connection is made both in the context of equal opportunities for leaders and in the context of optimising decisions in organisations. The implicit leadership theories of both followers and supervisors need to be taken into account when evaluating and promoting leaders.

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