Dustin Bluhm, Journal of Management

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Dustin Bluhm, Journal of Management

Rego, A., Owens, B., Yam, K. C., Bluhm, D. J., Pina E Cunha, M., Silard, T., Goncalves, L., Martins, M., Volkmann Simpson, A., Liu, W.

Leader Humility and Team Performance: Exploring the Mediating Mechanisms of Team PsyCap and Task Allocation Effectiveness

Although there is a growing interest toward the topic of leader humility, extant research has largely failed to consider the underlying mechanisms through which leader humility influences team outcomes. In this research, we integrate the emerging literature of leader humility and social information processing theory to theorize how leader humility facilitates the development of collective team psychological capital, leading to higher team task allocation effectiveness and team performance.


Humility has historically been considered a foundation for virtues and character strengths (see Grenberg, 2005; Krieger, 2002; Morris, Brotheridge, & Urbanski, 2005). While classical ideas about humility focus on the intrapersonal benefits of humility in developing other positive personal qualities (e.g., Kesebir, 2014; Roberts & Wood, 2003; Tangney, 2009), contemporary studies of humility in organizations focus on the relational influence of humility and its social impact on others (e.g., Ou, Waldman, & Peterson, 2015; Owens, Johnson, & Mitchell, 2013). Defined as an interpersonal characteristic that emerges in social contexts that connotes (a) a willingness to view oneself accurately, (b) an appreciation of others' strengths and contributions, and (c) teachability, or openness to new ideas and feedback (Owens et al., 2013), initial qualitative and quantitative evidence suggests that leader humility may help foster adaptive strengths within the teams they lead (Owens & Hekman, 2012), which ultimately enhances team performance (Owens & Hekman, 2016).

But the impact of leader humility on the development of character strengths in others has received little theoretical elaboration and scant empirical attention. Understanding this potential influence will further illuminate why leader humility has positive impact on the teams they lead and, more generally, shed light on the role and relevance of the historic virtue of humility in our contemporary organizations. Thus, drawing from social information processing theory (SIP; Salancik & Pfeffer, 1978) and the emerging leader humility literature (Oc, Basshur, Daniels, Greguras, & Diefendorff, 2015; Ou,Tsui, Kinicki, Waldman, Xiao, & Song, 2014; Owens & Hekman, 2012), the purpose of this research is to empirically examine how leader humility fosters collective strengths in teams, captured by team psychological capital (PsyCap), leading to higher team effectiveness.