An exploration of the role of subordinate affect in leader evaluations

Mark J. Martinko, Jeremy D. Mackey, Sherry E. Moss, Paul Harvey, Charn P. McAllister, Jeremy R. Brees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Leadership research has been encumbered by a proliferation of constructs and measures, despite little evidence that each is sufficiently conceptually and operationally distinct from the others. We draw from research on subordinates' implicit theories of leader behavior, behaviorally anchored rating scales, and decision making to argue that leader affect (i.e., the degree to which subordinates have positive and negative feelings about their supervisors) underlies the common variance shared by many leadership measures. To explore this possibility, we developed and validated measures of positive and negative leader affect (i.e., the Leader Affect Questionnaires; LAQs). We conducted 10 studies to develop the five-item positive and negative LAQs and to examine their convergent, discriminant, predictive, and criterion-related validity. We conclude that a) the LAQs provide highly reliable and valid tools for assessing subordinates' evaluations of their leaders; b) there is significant overlap between existing leadership measures, and a large proportion of this overlap is a function of the affect captured by the LAQs; c) when the LAQs are used as control variables, in most cases, they reduce the strength of relationships between leadership measures and other variables; d) the LAQs account for significant variance in outcomes beyond that explained by other leadership measures; and e) there is a considerable amount of unexplained variance between leadership measures that the LAQs do not capture. Research suggestions are provided and the implications of our results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)738-752
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Affect
  • Behaviorally anchored rating scales
  • Decision making
  • Implicit leadership theory
  • Leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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