Transformational leadership and employee innovation: Examining the congruence of leader and follower perceptions

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Journal of General Management


Organizations are relying on their leaders to demonstrate effective leadership behavior that positively affects employee innovation. However, discrepancies are often found between leaders’ self-perception and followers’ perception of leadership. Understanding the discrepancies is critical for narrowing the leader–follower perception gap and achieving congruence between leaders and followers. This forms the motivation of this study, which aims to compare and contrast the direct and mediated (through psychological empowerment) impact of transformational leadership behavior on employee innovation performance from the perspective of both leaders and followers. Multisource data using questionnaires were collected from 66 leaders and 220 followers in the United Arab Emirates. The results show that leaders’ self-perception scores were significantly lower than that of their followers. Also, discrepancies in perceptions of the direct impact of transformational leadership behavior on employee innovation were found such that a positive and significant relationship was found for followers while no significant relationship was found for leaders. Finally, psychological empowerment mediates the relationship between transformational leadership and employee innovation performance for both leaders and followers, though leaders perceive the mediation of psychological empowerment to be stronger than followers perceive it to be. The study findings show the importance of obtaining multiple-source feedback to first assess the perceptions of both leaders and followers and then make necessary interventions (if required) to narrow perception gaps between leaders and followers since discrepancies could lead to poor organizational culture.

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