The present study focuses on how humor may affect the quality of the relationship between leader and follower (LMX). More specifically, we examined the impact of follower self-reported humor style and leader self-reported humor style on the extent to which followers perceived their relationship with their leader to be of high quality (in terms of affect, loyalty, contribution and professional respect). We also investigated the role of congruence between leader humor style and follower humor style in the reported quality of their relationship. We present the results of a multi-level study of leaders (N = 88) and their followers (N = 257) showing that LMX is positively related to follower affiliative humor style and negatively related to follower aggressive humor style. In addition, LMX is higher with stronger congruence in self-defeating humor styles: leaders' self-defeating humor was positively associated with LMX when followers were high (and not when they were low) in self-defeating humor. These results imply that future studies may benefit from differentiating between different humor styles in order to better understand the role of humor in the intricate relationship between leaders and their followers.
About the authors
Barbara Wisse is an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Groningen. She received her Ph.D. from Leiden University in 1999. Her research interests include leadership, power, self and identity, emotions, and change.
Eric Rietzschel is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Groningen. He received his Ph.D. from Utrecht University in 2005. His research interests include creativity, motivation, and team performance.
©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston