ArticlePDF Available


Purpose This paper seeks to argue that leaders perform emotional labor whenever they display emotions in an attempt to influence their subordinates' moods and motivations. Design/methodology/approach This is a conceptual paper that integrates the literature on leadership with the research on emotional labor. Findings This paper develops 15 propositions that distinguish emotional labor performed by leaders from that performed by front‐line service workers. Research limitations/implications The paper suggests that leading with emotional labor is a fruitful research topic, and that considerable research could be done in this area. Practical implications Instead of conducting business in a non‐emotional, “business‐like manner”, leaders would benefit by expressing their emotions in the workplace. Emotionally expressive leaders are more charismatic and are better motivators. Originality/value This is the first paper to develop a theoretical model that describes how leaders perform emotional labor; thus the propositions are original.
Leading with emotional labor
Ronald H. Humphrey, Jeffrey M. Pollack and Thomas Hawver
Department of Management, School of Business,
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Purpose This paper seeks to argue that leaders perform emotional labor whenever they display
emotions in an attempt to influence their subordinates’ moods and motivations.
Design/methodology/approach This is a conceptual paper that integrates the literature on
leadership with the research on emotional labor.
Findings This paper develops 15 propositions that distinguish emotional labor performed by
leaders from that performed by front-line service workers.
Research limitations/implications The paper suggests that leading with emotional labor is a
fruitful research topic, and that considerable research could be done in this area.
Practical implications Instead of conducting business in a non-emotional, “business-like
manner”, leaders would benefit by expressing their emotions in the workplace. Emotionally expressive
leaders are more charismatic and are better motivators.
Originality/value This is the first paper to develop a theoretical model that describes how leaders
perform emotional labor; thus the propositions are original.
Keywords Leadership, Emotional intelligence
Paper type Conceptual paper
For decades, management scholars recommended that executives follow Weber’s
advice to keep emotions out of the work place and to practice “administrative
rationality” (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1995). If emotions were discussed at all, it was
primarily in terms of how they interfered with rational decision-making or were part of
interpersonal conflict. However, in the last decade, researchers and practitioners alike
have begun to realize the benefits that come from recognizing the value of emotions in
the workplace. Nevertheless, because strong emotions can have either positive or
negative effects on performance, it is essential that leaders learn how to influence
group members’ emotional reactions. For example, Jordan et al. (2006) found that
negative moods reduced team performance even when controlling for cohesion, task
conflict, and workload sharing. In this paper, we argue that, in order to influence group
members’ emotions, leaders have to perform emotional labor.
Emotional labor has been conceptualized primarily as a duty of front line
service employees (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1993; Ashkanasy and Daus, 2002;
Brotheridge and Grandey, 2002; Morris and Feldman, 1996; Rafaeli and Sutton,
1987). Brotheridge and Grandey (2002) were among the few researchers who
included managers in their study of emotional labor; they found that managers’
frequency of performing emotional labor was higher than that of physical laborers
and matched that of sales/service workers and human service workers. Brotheridge
(2006b, p. 299) listed emotional labor in managers as one of the areas that needs
additional study, and that scholars should examine: “the effect of managers’
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Leading with
emotional labor
Journal of Managerial Psychology
Vol. 23 No. 2, 2008
pp. 151-168
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/02683940810850790
emotions on workers, or the impact of emotional expressiveness on managerial
influence and leadership processes.” Thus, the main purpose of this paper is to
demonstrate that emotional labor is an important and overlooked function
performed by effective leaders.
We begin by defining emotional labor and related constructs such as emotion
regulation, deep acting and surface acting. This guides us to our definition of leading
with emotional labor. Next, we discuss the differences in the types of emotional labor
performed by various types of service workers, and we compare and contrast the types
of emotional labor performed by service workers with that performed by leaders. Then,
we relate emotional labor and leadership to emotional contagion, and emotional
expression to current leadership theories. These two sections explain the processes by
which emotional labor influences leadership. We then discuss some of the research that
demonstrates that emotional labor can be stressful for front-line service workers as a
means of setting the stage for later discussions about whether leaders find emotional
labor stressful. We then develop propositions that compare and contrast the emotional
labor processes of leaders and front-line service providers. Although many effects may
be the same, there are also reasons to expect considerable differences in the way that
emotional labor affects leaders. These differences range from personality traits that
distinguish leaders from followers to situational factors, such as the greater position
power and autonomy enjoyed by leaders.
Emotional labor and surface and deep acting
Emotional labor was a term first coined by Hochschild (1979, 1983). She argued that
service agents perform emotional labor when they express socially desired emotions
as part of their job role. Perhaps the most common form of emotional labor consists of
“service with a smile” encounters during which waiters and other service workers act
friendly toward customers and clients (Pugh, 2001). Emotional labor is also
performed in other settings, such as health care, where workers are expected to show
sympathy or a variety of other emotions. Hochschild argued that organizations
developed feeling rules that specified the emotions that employees should feel.
However, Rafaeli and Sutton (1987) and Ashforth and Humphrey (1993) argued that
these organizational rules should more accurately be called display rules because
they referred to observable behaviors (emotional expressions) rather than to
unobservable internal feelings. These observable emotional displays are likely to
have the biggest influence on customers, or, when performed by leaders, on
subordinates and coworkers. Nonetheless, Ashforth and Humphrey (1993) and other
scholars who used the term display rules recognized that, in order to display the
appropriate emotions, employees might have to regulate their internal emotional
states as well.
Hochschild (1979, 1983) described two ways in which employees alter their
emotional expressions. When employees change their outward emotional expressions
but do not attempt to feel the emotions that they are displaying, they are practicing
surface acting. In contrast, when they attempt to actually feel the emotions they want
to display, they are practicing deep acting. In addition, Ashforth and Humphrey
(1993) argued that employees also perform emotional labor in a third way, namely,
through spontaneous and genuine emotion. Diefendorff et al. (2005) demonstrated that
the expression of naturally felt emotions is an effective form of emotional labor.
Hochschild’s research, along with much of the work on emotional labor, focused on
the stressful and harmful psychological effects of being forced to comply with
organizational display rules (see Bono and Vey (2005), for a recent quantitative
Ashforth and Humphrey (1993) also theorized that surface acting and deep acting
may have harmful psychological effects, but believed that this may depend on the
degree to which the actor identifies with his or her role and occupation. Their third
proposition stated:
If emotional labor is consistent with a central, salient, and valued social and/or personal
identity (or identities), it will lead to enhanced psychological wellbeing (Ashforth and
Humphrey, 1993, pp. 100-101).
In their fourth proposition, they stated:
If emotional labor is inconsistent with a central, salient, and valued social and/or personal
identity (or identities), it will lead to emotive dissonance and/or a loss of one’s sense of
authentic self (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1993, p. 101).
Brotheridge and Lee (2002, p. 64) found that identification was negatively related to
surface acting and depersonalization, and positively related to deep acting,
authenticity, and personal accomplishment. Despite these positive findings, they
also found that identification was positively related to emotional exhaustion. Their
findings are particularly important because leaders are more likely to identify with
their role. These studies suggest that performing emotional labor may have complex
effects on leaders, both positive and negative.
Emotional labor may also be conceptualized in terms of its dimensions. Brotheridge
and Lee (2003) developed the six faceted Emotional Labour Scale based on the theories
of Hochschild (1983) and Morris and Feldman (1996). Their scale measures the
“frequency, intensity and variety of emotional display, the duration of interaction, and
surface and deep acting” (Brotheridge and Lee, 2003, p. 365). Although these
dimensions were developed for service employees, they have been applied just as well
to the type of emotional labor performed by leaders.
Table I illustrates some differences between the emotional labor performed by
service workers and that done by leaders. Because the six faceted Emotional Labour
Scale developed by Brotheridge and Lee (2003) is still relatively new, little research has
been done to verify the differences among service workers on this dimensions, and
almost none has been done for managers or other leaders (Brotheridge and Grandey,
2002). Thus, although we offer our best estimates as to what the cell entries should be,
considerable research still needs to be done to verify these entries. The table will help
guide our discussions throughout the paper.
Leading with emotional labor
Humphrey (2005, 2006) developed the phrase “leading with emotional labor” to refer to
managers or other leaders who use emotional labor and emotional displays to influence
the moods, emotions, motivations and performance of their subordinates or followers.
Although followers and other subordinates are most likely to be influenced by
observable emotional displays, leaders may have to engage in emotional labor in order
to produce the right emotional expressions to motivate or influence their followers. We
will use the phrase “leading with emotional labor” to refer to the whole process in
Leading with
emotional labor
Customer service Caring professions Social control Leaders
Happiness, anxiousness,
frustration, friendliness,
Sympathy, caring, compassion,
Anger, fear, frustration,
aggression, irritation, powerful
Happiness, anxiousness, pride,
anger, frustration, satisfaction,
friendliness, irritation,
sympathy, compassion
Frequency Multiple customers needing
brief attention
Multiple clients or patients
needing moderate attention
Variable not busy to very
Variable not busy to very
Intensity Low to moderate Moderate to high Variable low to high Variable low to high
Variety Monotonous Multiple scenarios Multiple scenarios Multiple scenarios
Duration of social
Brief and repetitive Either brief or potentially
Variable brief to very
Variable brief to very
Need for surface
High need for superficial
emotional displays
Occasional need for high
surface acting
High need for surface acting Frequent need for high surface
Need for deep
Low need for deep acting High need for deep acting Occasional need for deep acting Occasional need for deep acting
Role identification Low to moderate Moderate to high Variable low to high Generally high
Examples of
emotions displayed
Friendliness “Service with a
Sympathy “I am so sorry for
your loss”
Irritation “Please leave the
Pride “You are being
Anxiousness “I’ll be with you
in a few minutes”
Compassion “Here, let me
help you with that”
Anger “Your bill is overdue” Frustration “Get your
monthly report to me as soon
as possible”
Aggression “You are under
Fear “Drop the weapon!”
Table I.
A comparison of types of
emotions experienced, the
six facets of emotional
labor, and role
identification for service
workers and leaders
which leaders use emotional displays to influence their followers (just as expectancy
theory refers not only to the specific term expectancy, but also to related concepts like
instrumentality and valence).
Leadership theorists have studied charisma and other forms of emotional
expressiveness (Kellett et al. 2006; Mio et al., 2005); this research shows the importance
of emotional expressiveness to leadership. However, these leadership theories, unlike
the theories of emotional labor, have generally not considered the psychological effects
on the leaders of having to display appropriate emotions emotions they may not
actually be feeling. The literature on emotional labor suggests that this is not a simple
process for leaders. In the following sections, we will examine the similarities and
differences between leaders and service workers in their use of emotional labor and
emotional displays.
Types of emotions expressed by leaders and service workers
Generally speaking, emotional labor has been studied among three types of service
(1) customer service jobs;
(2) caring professions; and
(3) social control jobs.
In customer service jobs, emotional display rules generally require “service with a
smile” (Pugh, 2001; Rafaeli and Sutton, 1987; Van Dijk and Kirk-Brown, 2006). These
jobs generally require the expression of friendly, positive emotions that many people
enjoy expressing and experiencing, although sometimes the hectic work pace makes
these displays difficult. In other words, the emotions that these employees are
required to display are in themselves positive, but unpleasant working conditions and
rude customers may sometimes mean that employees have to fake their emotional
expressions. In caring professions, such as nursing, employees have to display
emotions such as sympathy and concern that are associated with sad and stressful
life events. Thus, these occupations often have high levels of burnout. The third
category, social control, includes occupations such as police, bouncers, and bill
collectors. As Sutton (1991) demonstrated in his study of bill collectors, the display
norms in these industries may require the expression of anger or other emotions that
are generally considered to be negative. Displaying these negative emotions to the
right degree may be difficult, for example, displaying enough irritation or anger to
get the customer to pay up, but not so much that the customer files a complaint. In
general, the type of emotions that employees have to display varies by the type of
service job.
Leaders may have to display a wide variety of emotions, ranging from friendliness,
to sympathy and support, to anger. Thus, they must be able to display all of the
emotions required by the three different types of service workers. Moreover, they have
to use judgment about which emotion to display at a particular time. For example,
when an employee comes in tardy, a leader may have to choose between showing
sympathy for the employee’s personal problems that caused the lateness and
expressing stern disapproval. The decision regarding which emotion to display may be
considerably more complicated than that of the typical service worker, who often has
to display the same emotion in a repetitive fashion.
Leading with
emotional labor
Our first proposition is as follows:
P1. Effective leaders will display a wide range of emotions, including friendliness,
sympathy, and social control-type emotions; whereas service workers typically
have to express a more limited range of emotions appropriate to their
occupation. Moreover, leaders must exercise considerably more judgment
about which emotions to portray compared to front line service workers.
Leaders as managers of others’ emotions
Several studies have demonstrated that leaders have substantial influence over group
members’ moods and emotional states, and that this influence can either help or hinder
employee performance. For example, three studies have shown that leaders can either
increase or decrease subordinates’ feelings of frustration. First, Pirola-Merlo et al.
(2002) studied how negative workplace events, such as obstacles to performance,
influenced the affective group climate and the performance of research and
development teams. Their theoretical model was based on Affective Events Theory
(AET; Weiss and Cropanzano, 1996; Weiss et al., 1999). According to AET, individuals
have average mood levels that can be either depressed or elevated by positive or
negative events at work. Perola-Merlo et al. (2002) argued that one of the functions of
managers is to help their subordinates cope with the numerous negative events that
occur in the workplace. Consistent with their model, they found that leaders with
facilitative and transformational leadership styles helped subordinates overcome the
mood damaging effects of workplace obstacles. Moreover, their path analysis found
that these mood effects translated into increased performance.
A second study also found that leaders influenced subordinates’ feelings of
frustration and optimism (McColl-Kennedy and Anderson, 2002). Drawing on
transformational leadership theory (Bass and Avolio, 1994), McColl-Kennedy and
Anderson argued that one of the important functions of leaders was to instil feelings of
optimism and to convince followers that challenging goals were obtainable. These
researchers found that transformational leaders had strong positive effects on
subordinates’ feelings of optimism. Moreover, as in the first study, they found that
these feelings of optimism strongly influenced employee performance.
A third study, by Pescosolido (2002), theorized that individuals who could manage
the emotions of fellow team members would emerge as leaders. Pescosolido argued that
leaders influenced group members’ emotions in two ways. First, leaders have a better
understanding of the appropriate response to workplace events, and they convey the
correct response by role modeling the right emotional tone. Second, emergent leaders
create shared emotional experiences that bond group members together and increase
feelings of morale. Pescosolido used a combination of qualitative and quantitative
methods to study 20 work groups. His results supported his model and also
demonstrated that leaders needed to display confidence in order to help group members
cope with frustrating events. These studies suggest the following propositions:
P2. Under conditions of ambiguity or uncertainty, group members look to leaders’
emotional responses: leaders with optimistic emotional displays will increase
group members’ positive moods and feelings of confidence, whereas leaders
with negative emotional displays will increase group members’ negative
moods and feelings of frustration.
P3. Group members’ moods influence performance, with feelings of frustration
lowering performance and feelings of optimism and confidence raising
The role of emotional labor in managing others’ emotions
As the preceding studies demonstrate, effective managers need to be able to display
feelings of confidence and optimism especially when their employees are feeling
frustrated by workplace obstacles. Leaders have to express optimism even when facing
the same confidence-shattering crisis as the other group members. Luthans and Avolio
(2003, p. 248) made a similar argument when they stated that:
[...] authentic leaders lead from the front, going in advance of others when there is a risk of
doing so. They model confidence, hope, optimism, and resiliency, which inspire others to
action (Luthans and Avolio, 2003, p. 248).
In many cases, leaders may have to display confidence (through surface acting) even
when they are experiencing the doubts and worries of their group members. They may
also attempt to use deep acting to bolster their own confidence and try to feel the
emotions they want to portray. Even if the leaders do feel confident, they must also be
able to display this confidence in a way that inspires their employees. Thus, part of the
leader’s job is to portray emotions that are not necessarily felt, in other words, to
perform emotional labor. Considerable research has examined the role of emotional
labor in service encounters (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1993; Ashkanasy and Daus,
2002; Brotheridge and Grandey, 2002; Morris and Feldman, 1996; Pugh, 2001; Rafaeli
and Sutton, 1987). These studies have shown the difficulties that employees face while
performing emotional labor, such as feeling stress and other negative psychological
outcomes (e.g. Cote and Morgan, 2002; Van Dijk and Kirk-Brown, 2006). As previously
mentioned, Brotheridge and Lee (2002) found that high identifiers had higher
performance (i.e. personal accomplishment), but were also more likely to suffer
emotional exhaustion. An analogous process may occur with leaders: leaders who
engage in emotional labor to boost the confidence of their followers may help their
subordinates while increasing their own emotional exhaustion. This is likely to be a
complex phenomena, because leaders may also benefit (through deep acting) by
portraying confidence, and may also benefit by the greater success of their team. As a
way of stimulating research on this complex process, we propose the following:
P4. During times of crisis or other negative events, leaders who engage in
emotional labor to display more positive emotions than what they are actually
feeling will increase their subordinates’ feelings of confidence and optimism.
These positive effects will be greater for leaders who use deep acting rather
than surface acting.
P5. During times of crisis or other negative events, surface acting will contribute
to leaders’ emotional exhaustion.
Emotional contagion and leading with emotional labor
One of the most important ways in which leaders influence their followers’ moods is
through emotional contagion. Emotional contagion occurs when people catch or begin
to share the moods of those around them, often by mimicking their “movements,
Leading with
emotional labor
expressions, postures, and vocalizations” (Hatfield et al., 1992, pp. 153-154). Emotional
contagion can be quite powerful, for example, Barsade (2002) demonstrated how
emotions can spread throughout the workplace and influence group behaviors. Pugh
(2001) showed why “service with a smile” is so effective: because customers catch the
positive moods displayed by service workers. Although much of the work on emotional
contagion has examined how emotions are spread among peers, Sy et al. (2005) found
that leaders’ moods were especially contagious, and that their moods influenced group
affective tone and other group processes. Goleman et al. (2002) concept of “resonance”
is based on emotional contagion. According to their model, leaders must first establish
resonance, or emotional synchronization, with their followers before they can guide
them to more productive emotional states. Epitropaki (2006) argued that emotional
contagion flows more from leaders (and power-holders) to followers rather than
vice-versa, because followers focus their attention more on leaders. In a study of 126
managers and their direct reports, she found that managers’ deep acting, but not their
surface acting, significantly influenced subordinates’ perceptions of whether the
managers were transformational leaders.
In order to use emotional contagion to influence their followers, leaders have to
engage in emotional labor; in other words, they have to express the emotions that they
want the group members to feel.
P6. Leaders who engage in deep acting will be more emotionally contagious than
leaders who either use surface acting or who do not perform emotional labor.
Leadership theories and emotional expressiveness
One duty of managers, or leaders, is to be emotionally expressive. In assigning an
important role to emotional expression in her leadership model, George (2000) argued
that the communication of emotions aids in goal attainment as well as the development
of constructive interpersonal relationships. For example, Kellett et al. (2006) found that
emotional expressiveness predicted empathy, which then predicted relationship
leadership. However, equally important was their finding that emotional
expressiveness directly predicted task leadership, which shows that expressing
emotions is important not only for relationship leadership but also for task
performance. Expressing stern, social control-type emotions may help to motivate
group members who have a tendency to slack off, whereas expressing enthusiasm may
motivate people to complete their work tasks. Emotional expressiveness may also
serve as a signaling device to aid in communication; for example, task leaders may put
greater urgency into their vocal tone when discussing top priorities.
Charismatic theories of leadership attribute a central role to emotional
expressiveness, and argue that charismatic leaders deliberately express emotions to
influence their followers (Gardner and Avolio, 1998; Waldman and Yammarino, 1999).
For example, charismatic leaders are more effective at communicating because they
use emotionally arousing metaphors and similar devices (Mio et al., 2005). Emotional
displays play a large role in subordinates’ impressions of their leaders’ sincerity
(Dasborough and Ashkanasy, 2002) and may even be more important than the content
of the message in influencing judgments about the leader (Newcombe and Ashkanasy,
2002). In a study of leaders from 64 organizations, Groves (2005), found that leaders’
skills in emotional expressivity determined others’ perceptions of their charismatic
leadership. De Hoogh and her coauthors (De Hoogh et al., 2005) demonstrated that
charisma can increase effectiveness, for example, by improving subordinates’ work
attitudes. Likewise, Strange and Mumford (2005) used an experimental design to show
that strong vision statements were more affectively engaging.
Transformational leadership theories have given special attention to the role of
emotional expressiveness (Bass and Avolio, 1994). Transformational leaders are
characterized by the following four attributes: idealized influence, inspirational
motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. Being
emotionally expressive primarily involves the inspirational motivation and
individualized consideration aspects of transformational leadership. We argue that
emotional labor can help leaders make their speeches and communications more
inspiring. Unless leaders put emotions into their communications, they are not likely to
be inspiring, nor are they likely to establish a personalized, individual relationship with
others. Because leaders are faced with the same busy, hectic work-life as their
followers, they may need to take extra care and effort to shape their communications to
be inspiring; in others words, they may need to use emotional labor to create the
impressions that they want to give. This line of reasoning suggests the following
P7. Leaders who perform emotional labor will be perceived as better
communicators, and deep acting will be more effective than surface acting
at increasing perceptions of communication skill.
P8. Leaders who perform emotional labor will be more likely to be perceived as
transformational leaders, and deep acting will be more effective than surface
acting at increasing perceptions of transformational leadership.
Stress and emotional labor
A significant amount of research has examined the relationship between emotional
labor and stress. A recent quantitative review by Bono and Vey (2005) found that
emotional dissonance (a discrepancy between felt and expressed emotions), deep acting
and surface acting were related to emotional exhaustion, and that emotional
dissonance was related to depersonalization and physical complaints. Lee and
Ashforth (1996) described depersonalization as a defensive measure taken by
employees to avoid the strain caused by an insufficient emotional ability to cope with
interpersonal stressors. Brotheridge and Lee (2002) found that deep acting was
positively related to personal accomplishment and authenticity, and negatively related
to depersonalization. They also found that surface acting was negatively related to
authenticity and positively related to depersonalization. Brotheridge and Grandey
(2002) found that the strategy by which employees handle emotions, by either surface
acting or deep acting, seems to play a role in emotional health, levels of stress, and
distancing. Deep acting, as opposed to faking emotions, is the preferred method of
addressing emotions as it leads to positive outcomes such as feelings of personal
accomplishment whereas faking can lead to distancing or depersonalization.
P9. Leaders who use surface acting to influence their followers will experience
more stress and feelings of depersonalization than will leaders who use deep
Leading with
emotional labor
Emotional intelligence, emotional labor, and leadership
Emotional intelligence and other emotional abilities may give leaders the ability to
more effectively perform emotional labor. For example, two people may both perform
emotional labor, but one may do it in a clumsy and ineffective way, while the other may
perform emotional labor in a superb fashion. There are numerous definitions of
emotional intelligence and related abilities; Ashkanasy and Daus (2005, p. 442) argued
that Mayer and Salovey’s (1997) four branch model of emotional intelligence most
accurately fits the definition of an intelligence:
(1) perception of emotion (in self and others);
(2) assimilation of emotion to facilitate thought;
(3) understanding of emotion; and
(4) managing and regulating emotion in self and others.
In their influential review, Daus and Ashkanasy (2005) demonstrated that recent
emotional intelligence scales (MSCEIT) based on Mayer et al.’s (2000) model have
appropriate discriminate and predictive validity and are not simply redundant
measures of the Big Five personality measures (extraversion, neuroticism,
agreeableness, openness to experience, and conscientiousness). (MSCEIT stands for
the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test, see Mayer et al., 2001, 2000.)
Emotional intelligence scales have also shown discriminate value with regard to other
traits as well; for example, Jordan et al. (2002) have shown that the Workgroup
Emotional Intelligence Profile (WEIP) is distinct from the 16 Personality Factors, the
Revised Self-Monitoring Scales, and the Personal Style Inventory. The WEIP is also
based on the Mayer and Salovey (1997) model of emotional intelligence.
Kellett et al. (2002, 2006) demonstrated that the WEIP measures predicted
leadership emergence in assessment center groups. Although they did not directly
study emotional labor, the emotional abilities they studied may be particularly relevant
to performing emotional labor. The ability to recognize emotions in others may help
leaders know when they need to perform emotional labor, for example, by recognizing
when frustrated employees need sympathy or other forms of motivation and support
(in order to provide sympathy, the leaders may have to display sympathetic emotional
expressions, i.e. perform emotional labor). The ability to express one’s own emotions
may help leaders perform emotional labor, because emotional labor is only effective if
emotions are expressed in a way that has an impact on the receivers. This may help
most when leaders’ emotional displays consist of spontaneous and genuine emotions,
but it seems reasonable to believe that the ability to express one’s emotions is a skill
that may help with all three types of emotional labor:
(1) surface acting;
(2) deep acting; and
(3) spontaneous and genuine emotional expression.
The Kellett et al. (2002, 2006) finding that expressing one’s own emotions predicts
directly to task leadership suggests that leaders may perform emotional labor not only
to express sympathy, but also to express other emotions as well, such as irritation at
slackers, or enthusiasm for good performance. Empathy occurs when the leaders
actually feel and share the emotions that the subordinates are experiencing. Their
results imply that leaders who use emotional labor to establish an authentic empathic
bond with their subordinates will be the best leaders.
Brotheridge (2006a) studied how one measure of emotional intelligence (MSCEIT)
related to emotional labor and situational demands. She found that:
[...]the key role of emotional intelligence seemed to be as a predictor of the perceived
situational demands, which, in turn, predicted the nature of emotional labor that was
performed. Workers with higher levels of emotional intelligence were found to be more likely
to perceive the need to frequently display emotions as part of their work role and perform
deep acting in response to these situational demands (Brotheridge, 2006a, p. 139).
P10. Leaders high on emotional intelligence will be better at recognizing when
situational demands call for performing emotional labor.
P11. Leaders high on the ability to express their own emotions will be better at
performing all three types of emotional labor.
P12. Leaders high on empathy will prefer to use genuine emotional expressions
and deep acting instead of surface acting.
Autonomy and position power
Although organizations have display rules that specify the type of emotions that
should be portrayed, these display rules may vary considerably in the amount of
autonomy they give service workers and leaders. Just as some organizations measure
performance by processes and strictly regulate the behaviors and processes used by
employees, others have display rules that specify the exact greetings or other words to
be used by employees. For example, many fast-food restaurants and retail
establishments require their cashiers to say “thank you” or “have a nice day,” or
some similarly scripted response. In contrast, other organizations have display rules
that give employees considerably greater freedom to express themselves. Because
some organizations encourage variety in emotional expressions and others do not,
Morris and Feldman (1996) and Brotheridge and Lee (2003) list variety as one of the
facets of emotional labor. These differences in display rules may be traced to
differences in organizational culture (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1995). For example,
Southwest Airlines is famous for giving its employees the freedom to tell jokes or act in
a spontaneous manner in dealing with customers. Thus, Southwest Airlines, although
it actually places a higher premium on emotional expressiveness than does its
competitors, has display rules that give greater autonomy to employees. Kelly and
Barsade (2001) also discuss how organization-wide emotion norms can constrain or
amplify group members’ emotions.
One major difference between managers and subordinates concerns the degree of
position power and autonomy that they have. This difference may influence whether or
not they find emotional labor to be stressful. Although it may be tempting to assume
that managers and leaders always have more autonomy and personal control than
subordinates, this may not always be the case. For example, Brotheridge and Grandey
(2002) found that managers choose to modify their emotional expressions with
customers as much as their front-line service workers did, even though the former had
more formal job autonomy. Frontline employees often feel very little responsibility for
the success of a business, and may not intend to be long-term employees anyway. In
Leading with
emotional labor
contrast, managers may feel more responsible for the success of the work-unit and may
feel greater pressure to display the right emotions to please customers.
The degree to which managers have autonomy in their interactions with
organizational members may also vary widely. The organizational setting makes
many leader behaviors non-discretionary, which means that many apparently
voluntary leader behaviors are actually guided by organizational policies, corporate
culture and organizationally-determined behavioral scripts (Hunt et al., 1978; Osborn
and Ashforth, 1990). For example, Humphrey and Ashforth (2000) found that top
management strategy that was passed down through the various management levels
influenced buyers’ interpersonal interactions with supplier agents, and that this
organizational influence was more important than the buyers’ preferred interaction
style. As a result, many buyers had to use a less friendly and more formal style than
they preferred, and in some cases even used threats. In the same way, managers and
leaders at various levels of the organization are likely to find that their emotional
displays are influenced by organizational strategy and corporate culture, and do not
solely reflect their personal preferences.
There are many types of work events that are likely to require managers and other
leaders to adopt a “get tough” stance towards their subordinates. For example, Bryant
and Cox (2006) described how managers adopted hostile emotional displays when they
communicated bad news about demotions, displacements, and other negative
organizational changes. In some cases, the managers had worked side-by-side for years
with the subordinates on a good basis until the change programs implemented by the
company caused the managers to distance themselves from the subordinates (Bryant
and Cox, 2006, p. 122). Bryant and Cox also found that subordinates had to use
emotional labor to help them avoid displaying their negative reactions to their
managers. Their study suggests that many workplace events are likely to stimulate
managers to publicly display emotions supportive of the organization’s get- tough
policies; even if the managers would privately prefer to express support to the people
they had worked collegially with for years. These negative emotional displays are
likely to exasperate the conflict between managers and subordinates and to create
stress for both parties. For example, Dasborough (2006) found that leader originated
negative events strongly influenced subordinate moods, and that subordinates were
more likely to recall negative events than positive ones.
As scholars have known since Fiedler first developed his contingency theory of
leadership, managers also vary in their position power relative to their subordinates.
Although in some organizations managers have considerable leeway to hire and fire
employees, in other organizations managers have little authority over their
subordinates due to pressure from upper-administrators or from unions. In other
cases, managers’ authority may be limited by their reliance on the skills and expertise
of their subordinates. Managers may have to seek the goodwill and cooperation of their
subordinates to get the job done, and thus may feel required to perform emotional
Conversely, there may also be conditions where managers and leaders have
considerable autonomy to choose the emotions they express with their subordinates. In
these cases they may perform emotional displays that reflect their own personal
identities and sense of self. Under these conditions performing emotional labor may
actually increase leaders’ wellbeing and sense of fulfillment (Ashforth and Humphrey,
1993). Consistent with this perspective, Brotheridge and Grandey (2002, p. 17) found
that “Perceiving the demand to display positive emotions and using deep-level
regulation were associated with a heightened sense of personal accomplishment,
suggesting positive benefits to this aspect of work.” Likewise, Van Dijk and
Kirk-Brown (2006) found that performing emotional labor only created negative
outcomes when it also created feelings of dissonance if people identified with their
roles and with their emotional displays then they did not feel emotional exhaustion.
P13. Managers with low personal control but high responsibility will feel greater
stress than front-line service workers when performing emotional labor.
P14. Managers who must use emotional labor to express “get-tough” negative
emotions that are inconsistent with their true feelings and personal identity
will experience heightened levels of stress.
P15. Leaders with high personal control who use emotional labor to express
positive emotions that are consistent with their personal identity will
experience an increased sense of wellbeing and fulfilment.
The literature reviewed here suggests that leaders frequently perform emotional labor
as part of their effort to influence their followers’ moods and emotions. Because
followers’ moods and emotions can have a substantial effect on their performance,
leaders who are successful at influencing moods may be more effective. The type of
emotional labor performed by leaders is likely to differ in significant ways from the
emotional labor performed by subordinates. Many service workers perform emotional
labor in a highly repetitive fashion, and usually have a narrow range of emotions that
they have to display for their particular job type. In contrast, leaders are likely to need
to display a wide range of emotions in their efforts to manage employees and other
types of followers and team members. Moreover, leaders must exercise considerably
more judgment about which emotions to display. It may be especially important for
leaders to use emotional labor during times of crisis or when confronting other
negative workplace events. During these times leaders need to publicly display
emotions indicative of confidence and optimism even if they privately share the same
worries and anxieties of their subordinates. Although performing surface acting may
make leaders more effective, it may also add to leaders’ feelings of emotional
Leading with emotional labor may work in part through emotional contagion
processes. Leaders who perform emotional labor may also be more emotionally
expressive and better communicators. Their greater communication skills may help
them be perceived as transformational leaders.
Obtaining success through leading with emotional labor does have some costs,
especially for those who use surface acting. The literature suggests that leaders who
use surface acting may experience feelings of depersonalization, although those who
use deep acting or genuine emotional displays may not suffer the same effects. Leaders
with higher emotional intelligence may also be better at recognizing when to perform
emotional labor and may better realize the advantages of using genuine emotional
expressions and deep acting. Organizational factors that determine the amount of
personal control and autonomy that leaders have over their emotional displays may
Leading with
emotional labor
have a strong influence over whether leaders perform emotional labor. These
organizational and situational factors may also influence whether leaders find
performing emotional labor to be stressful or not.
The propositions here still need to be tested; very little work has been done
examining how leaders perform emotional labor as a way of influencing subordinates,
team members, and followers. However, the available research suggests that this
should be a fruitful line of research for many years.
These propositions also have tremendous practical implications. Most importantly,
they suggest that managers need to pay attention to the moods and emotions of their
followers. This advice is in complete opposition to the advice published frequently in
the news and even in some academic textbooks that argued that variables such as
job satisfaction have nothing to do with performance and productivity.
These propositions also strongly suggest that the popular advice to “act in a
business-like manner” and to refrain from displaying emotions needs to be changed.
Although managers and other leaders may not have to express emotions
24-hours-a-day, expressing the appropriate emotions is a key function that both task
and relationship leaders need to perform. Thus rather than telling managers and other
leaders not to express their emotions, leaders need better training in how to express
their emotions effectively. This may help leaders use either deep acting or genuine
emotional expressions and avoid the harmful psychological effects that accompany
surface acting. Mastering the basic skills behind genuine emotional expression and
deep acting may make the workplace more productive and enjoyable for both leaders
and followers.
Ashforth, B.E. and Humphrey, R.H. (1993), “Emotional labor in service roles: the influence of
identity”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 181, pp. 88-115.
Ashforth, B.E. and Humphrey, R.H. (1995), “Emotion in the work place: a reappraisal”, Human
Relations, Vol. 48, pp. 97-125.
Ashkanasy, N.M. and Daus, C.S. (2002), “Emotion in the workplace: the new challenge for
managers”, Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 16, pp. 76-86.
Ashkanasy, N.M. and Daus, C.S. (2005), “Rumors of the death of emotional intelligence in
organizational behavior are vastly exaggerated”, Journal of Organizational Behavior,
Vol. 26, pp. 441-52.
Barsade, S.G. (2002), “The ripple effect: emotional contagion and its influence on group
behavior”, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 47, pp. 644-75.
Bass, B.M. and Avolio, B.J. (1994), Improving organizational effectiveness through
transformational leadership, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Bono, J.E. and Vey, M.A. (2005), “Toward understanding emotional management at work: a
quantitative review of emotional labor research”, in Hartel, C.E., Zerbe, W.J. and
Ashkanasy, N.M. (Eds), Emotions in Organizational Behavior, Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates Publishers, Mahwah, NJ, pp. 213-33.
Brotheridge, C.M. (2006a), “The role of emotional intelligence and other individual differences in
predicting emotional labor relative to situational demands”, Psicothema, Vol. 18, pp. 139-44.
Brotheridge, C.M. (2006b), “A review of emotional labour and its nomological network: practical
and research implications”, Ergonomia IJE&HF, Vol. 28, pp. 295-309.
Brotheridge, C.M. and Grandey, A.A. (2002), “Emotional labor and burnout: comparing two
perspectives of people work”, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Vol. 60, pp. 17-39.
Brotheridge, C.M. and Lee, R.T. (2002), “Testing a conservation of resources model of the
dynamics of emotional labor”, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Vol. 7, pp. 57-67.
Brotheridge, C.M. and Lee, R.T. (2003), “Development and validation of the emotional labour
scale”, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 76, pp. 365-79.
Bryant, M. and Cox, J.W. (2006), “The expression of suppression: loss and emotional labour in
narratives of organizational change”, Journal of Management and Organizations, Vol. 12,
pp. 116-30.
Cote, S. and Morgan, L. (2002), “A longitudinal analysis of the association between emotion
regulation, job satisfaction, and intentions to quit”, Journal of Organizational Behavior,
Vol. 23, pp. 947-62.
Cote, S. and Miners, C. (2006), “Emotional intelligence, cognitive intelligence, and job
performance”, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 51 No. 1, pp. 1-26.
Dasborough, M.T. (2006), “Cognitive asymmetry and employee emotional reactions to leadership
behaviors”, The Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 163-78.
Dasborough, M.T. and Ashkanasy, N.M. (2002), “Emotion and attribution of intentionality in
leader-member relationships”, The Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 615-34.
Daus, C. and Ashkanasy, N.M. (2005), “The case for the ability-based model of emotional
intelligence in organizational behavior”, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Vol. 26 No. 4,
pp. 453-67.
De Hoogh, A.H.B., Den Hartog, D.N., Kopman, P.L., Thierry, H., Van den Berg, P.T., Van der
Weide, J.G. and Wilderom, C.P.M. (2005), “Leader motives, charismatic leadership, and
subordinates’ work attitudes in the profit and voluntary sector”, The Leadership Quarterly,
Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 17-38.
Diefendorff, J.M., Croyle, M.H. and Gosserand, R.H. (2005), “The dimensionality and antecedents
of emotional labor strategies”, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Vol. 66 No. 2, pp. 339-57.
Epitropaki, O. (2006), “‘Leading the show’: the impact of leader’s emotional labor on
subordinates’ transformation leadership perceptions and collective emotional labor”,
paper presented at the Academy of Management Conference, Atlanta, GA.
Gardner, W.L. and Avolio, B.J. (1998), “The charismatic relationship: a dramaturgical
perspective’”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 32-58.
George, J.M. (2000), “Emotions and leadership: the role of emotional intelligence”, Human
Relations, Vol. 53 No. 8, pp. 1027-55.
Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. and McKee, A. (2002), Primal Leadership, Harvard Business School
Press, Cambridge, MA.
Groves, K.S. (2005), “Linking leader skills, follower attitudes, and contextual variables via an
integrated model of charismatic leadership”, Journal of Management, Vol. 31 No. 2,
pp. 255-77.
Hatfield, E., Cacioppa, J. and Rapson, R.L. (1992), “Emotional contagion”, in Clark, M.S. (Ed.),
Review of Personality and Social Psychology: Emotion and Social Behavior, Sage
Publications, Newbury Park, CA, pp. 151-77.
Humphrey, R.H. (2005), “Empathy, emotional expressiveness, and leadership”, Proceedings of the
Southern Management Association, Charleston, SC.
Leading with
emotional labor
Humphrey, R.H. (2006), “Leading with emotional labor”, paper presented at the Academy of
Management Conference, Atlanta, GA.
Humphrey, R.H. and Ashforth, B.E. (2000), “Buyer-supplier alliances in the automobile industry:
how exit-voice strategies influence interpersonal relationships”, Journal of Organizational
Behavior, Vol. 21, pp. 713-30.
Hunt, J.G., Osborn, R.N. and Schuler, R.S. (1978), “Relations of discretionary and
nondiscretionary leadership to performance and satisfaction in a complex organization”,
Human Relations, Vol. 31, pp. 507-23.
Jordan, P.J., Ashkanasy, N.M. and Ha
rtel, C.E.J. (2002), “Workgroup emotional intelligence: scale
development and relationship to team process effectiveness and goal focus”, Human
Resource Management Review, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 195-214.
Jordan, P.J., Lawrence, S.A. and Troth, A.C. (2006), “The impact of negative mood on team
performance”, Journal of Management & Organization, Vol. 12, pp. 131-45.
Kellett, J.B., Humphrey, R.H. and Sleeth, R.G. (2002), “Empathy and complex task performance:
two routes to leadership”, The Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 523-44.
Kellett, J.B., Humphrey, R.H. and Sleeth, R.G. (2006), “Empathy and the emergence of task and
relations leaders”, The Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 17, pp. 146-62.
Kelly, J.R. and Barsade, S.G. (2001), “Mood and emotions in small groups and work teams”,
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 86 No. 1, pp. 99-130.
Lee, R.T. and Ashforth, B.E. (1996), “A meta-analytic examination of the correlates of the three
dimensions of job burnout”, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 81 No. 2, pp. 123-33.
McColl-Kennedy, J.R. and Anderson, R.D. (2002), “Impact of leadership style and emotions on
subordinate performance”, The Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 545-59.
Mayer, J.D., Caruso, D.R. and Salovey, P. (1997), “What is emotional intelligence?”, in Salovey, P.
and Sluyter, A. (Eds), Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence: Educational
Implications, Basic Books, New York, NY, pp. 3-31.
Mayer, J.D., Caruso, D.R. and Salovey, P. (2000), “Selecting a measure of emotional intelligence:
the case for ability scales”, in Bar-On, R. and Parker, J. (Eds), The Handbook of Emotional
Intelligence: Theory, Development, Assessment, and Application at Home, School, and the
Workplace, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, pp. 320-42.
Mayer, J.D., Caruso, D.R. and Salovey, P. (2001), The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional
Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), Multi-Health Systems, Toronto.
Mio, J.S., Riggio, R.E., Levin, S. and Reese, R. (2005), “Presidential leadership and charisma: the
effects of metaphor”, The Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 287-94.
Morris, J.A., Brotheridge, C.M. and Urbanski, J.C. (2005), “Bringing humility to leadership:
antecedents and consequences of leader humility”, Human Relations, Vol. 58 No. 10,
pp. 1323-51.
Morris, J.A. and Feldman, D.C. (1996), “The dimensions, antecedents, and consequences of
emotional labor”, of Management Review, Vol. 21, pp. 986-1010.
Newcombe, M.J. and Ashkanasy, N.M. (2002), “The role of affect and affective congruence in
perceptions of leaders: an experimental study”, The Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 13 No. 5,
pp. 601-14.
Osborn, R.N. and Ashforth, B.E. (1990), “Investigating the challenges to senior leadership in
complex, high-risk technologies”, The Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 1, pp. 147-63.
Pescosolido, A.T. (2002), “Emergent leaders as managers of group emotion”, The Leadership
Quarterly, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 583-99.
Pirola-Merlo, A., Haertel, C., Mann, L. and Hirst, G. (2002), “How leaders influence the impact of
affective events on team climate and performance in R&D teams”, The Leadership
Quarterly, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 561-81.
Pugh, S.D. (2001), “Service with a smile: emotional contagion in the service encounter”, Academy
of Management Journal, Vol. 44, pp. 1018-27.
Rafaeli, A. and Sutton, R.I. (1987), “Expression of emotion as part of the work role”, Academy of
Management Review, Vol. 12, pp. 23-37.
Strange, J. and Mumford, M.D. (2005), “The origins of vision: effects of reflection, models, and
analysis”, The Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 121-48.
Sutton, R.I. (1991), “Maintaining norms about expressed emotions: the case of bill collectors”,
Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 36 No. 2, pp. 245-68.
Sy, T., Cote, S. and Saavedra, R. (2005), “The contagious leader: the impact of the leader’s mood
on the mood of group members, group affective tone, and group processes”, Journal of
Applied Psychology, Vol. 90, pp. 295-305.
Van Dijk, P.A. and Kirk-Brown, A. (2006), “Emotional labor and negative job outcomes: an
evaluation of the mediating role of emotional dissonance”, Journal of Management &
Organization, Vol. 12, pp. 101-15.
Waldman, D.A., F, J. and Yammarino, C.E.O. (1999), “Charisma leadership: levels-of-management
and levels-of-analysis effects”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 24, pp. 266-85.
Weiss, H.M. and Cropanzano, R. (1996), “Affective events theory: a theoretical discussion of the
structure, causes and consequences of affective experiences at work”, in Staw, B.M. and
Cummings, L.L. (Eds), Research in Organizational Behavior, JAI Press, Greenwich, CT,
pp. 1-74.
Weiss, H.M., Nichols, J.P. and Daus, C.S. (1999), “An examination of the joint effects of affective
experiences and job beliefs on job satisfaction and variations in affective experiences over
time”, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 78 No. 1, pp. 1-24.
Further reading
Bateman, T.S. and Porath, C. (2003), “Transcendent behavior”, in Cameron, K.S., Dutton, J.E. and
Quinn, R.E. (Eds), Positive Organizational Scholarship, Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, CA,
pp. 122-37.
Cameron, K.S., Dutton, J.E. and Quinn, R.E. (2003), Positive Organizational Scholarship,
Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, CA.
Day, D.V. (2001), “Leadership development: a review in context”, The Leadership Quarterly,
Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 581-613.
De Cremer, D. and van Knippenberg, D. (2004), “Leader self-sacrifice and leadership
effectiveness: the moderating role of leader self-confidence”, Organizational Behavior and
Human Decision Processes, Vol. 95, pp. 140-55.
Lee, R.T. and Ashforth, B.E. (1993), “A further examination of managerial burnout: toward an
integrated model”, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 3-20.
Leading with
emotional labor
About the authors
Ronald H. Humphrey, whose current research interests focus on how both cognitive and
emotional processes influence leadership, has published in the Academy of Management Review,
Research in Organizational Behavior, Leadership Quarterly, American Sociological Review, Social
Psychology Quarterly, Basic and Applied Social Psychology, Human Relations, Organization
Science, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Public Opinion Quarterly, Journal of
Organizational Behavior, and other leading journals. Ron also enjoys teaching
undergraduates, MBAs and doctoral students in the Department of Management at Virginia
Commonwealth University. He gained his BA at the University of Chicago; his PhD at the
University of Michigan; and his Postdoctoral Fellow at the Indiana University. Ronald
H. Humphrey is the corresponding author and can be contacted at:
Jeffrey M. Pollack is currently pursing a PhD at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Pollack’s current research focus is directed towards the domains of leadership and
entrepreneurship. From a social cognitive perspective, Pollack explores what factors enable
leaders and entrepreneurs to respond adaptively to setbacks.
Thomas Hawver is a doctoral student in Organizational Behavior at Virginia Commonwealth
University’s School of Business in Richmond, Virginia. His research interests include emotional
labor, emotional intelligence of general surgeons, and entrepreneurial firm performance and its
relationship to strategic human resource systems.
To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail:
Or visit our web site for further details:
... The complex interplay between leader emotional labor and affective events is deserving of further research. The call for further research is especially emphasized in organizational settings given that leaders need to portray a wide variety of emotions across a broad array of situations, aside from having to judge the appropriate emotion for a particular event (Ashkanasy & Humphrey, 2011;Humphrey et al., 2008). For instance, despite negative emotions being typically perceived as a natural reaction during critical events (Tiedens et al., 2000), leaders may need to express confidence and optimism through surface actingeven if they actually feel as doubtful and anxious as their followers (Humphrey et al., 2008;Luthans & Avolio, 2003). ...
... The call for further research is especially emphasized in organizational settings given that leaders need to portray a wide variety of emotions across a broad array of situations, aside from having to judge the appropriate emotion for a particular event (Ashkanasy & Humphrey, 2011;Humphrey et al., 2008). For instance, despite negative emotions being typically perceived as a natural reaction during critical events (Tiedens et al., 2000), leaders may need to express confidence and optimism through surface actingeven if they actually feel as doubtful and anxious as their followers (Humphrey et al., 2008;Luthans & Avolio, 2003). Surface acting involves "simulating emotions that are not actually felt, which is accomplished by careful presentation of verbal and non-verbal cues, such as facial expression, gestures, and voice tone" (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993, p. 92). ...
... Surface acting involves "simulating emotions that are not actually felt, which is accomplished by careful presentation of verbal and non-verbal cues, such as facial expression, gestures, and voice tone" (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993, p. 92). Conversely, leaders may consciously engage in deep acting to boost their own confidence and to internalize the emotions they wish to convey to followers (Humphrey et al., 2008). Deep acting requires actors' efforts to adjust internal feelings in order to align with emotional display rules, and thereby deceive actors themselves (Grandey, 2000;Hochschild, 1983). ...
... This means that no matter whether the level of emotional display behaviour is high or low, the emotional labour profile will not be influenced. This is in line with the results of other studies which found that frontline customer service has a high need for continuous and monotonous superficial emotional display behaviour (Humphrey, Pollack, & Hawver, 2008). An example of a superficial emotional display behaviour is automatic and consistent smiling without any sense of sincerity as a service standard that needs to be fulfilled whatever the character or personal aspects of the employee. ...
... Training them, and permitting them sufficient autonomy within their roles may be a way of mitigating the emotional costs that managers may experience (Richards et al, 2019). Encouraging managers to be more emotionally expressive, rather than requiring them to carry out their duties in a nonemotional 'business-like' way, has also been advanced as a response to the burden of workplace emotion work in managers (Humphrey et al, 2008). ...
Senior Probation Officer’s (SPOs) in England and Wales work at the ‘front and centre’ of the organisation’s hierarchy. They act as both manager and developer of frontline probation practitioners. Previous research has focused on the emotional labour undertaken by probation practitioners yet there is very little research on the emotional labour of SPOs, even though they must be skilful emotion managers of their own emotions and those they supervise. Using data gathered from interviews with 28 SPOs and managers across England and Wales, we analyse how SPOs’ emotions are ‘controlled’ by senior management, and how SPOs ‘control’ the emotions of frontline workers they supervise. SPOs attempts at managing emotions are resisted by their supervisees, and SPOs resist the emotional displays they are expected to present in their work role. We conclude by considering the impact of emotional labour on SPOs and how best to support them in their role.
During a crisis, leaders experiencing fear have to decide whether to reveal or regulate their emotions. Drawing on the emotions as social information (EASI) model and employing an experimental vignette study (n = 159) in the context of a young firm's crisis, we compare employee reactions (i.e., employee affect, job engagement, and affective commitment) to different leader emotional display strategies, namely, deep acting, surface acting, and genuine emotions. Compared with a leader's genuine emotions (i.e., display of fear), surface acting increased negative affect, whereas deep acting reduced negative affect. With regard to the total effects of our mediation model, surface acting negatively influenced employee job engagement and affective commitment, whereas deep acting surprisingly showed no differences to the display of genuine emotions. Our findings indicate that leaders who experience fear may consider revealing this genuine emotion during a crisis rather than engaging in potentially inauthentic emotion regulation strategies.
Purpose Emotional intelligence (EI) is a critical component of leadership that reflects the ability of leaders to understand how their emotions and actions affect the people around them in the organization. This paper aims to deliver state-of-the-art insights on EI and leadership. Design/methodology/approach This paper leverages on bibliometric analysis to unpack 25 years of EI and leadership research. Findings This paper reveals the bibliometric profile (e.g. trends in publication activity and top articles, authors, countries and journals) and intellectual structure (e.g. themes and topics) of EI and leadership research, shedding light on EI manifestation in leadership, EI and leadership congruence, EI role in leadership and EI and leadership for human resource management. Research limitations/implications This paper offers several noteworthy implications. First, EI is a leadership competency that can be cultivated and leveraged to improve leadership effectiveness. Second, the need for EI and leadership congruence indicates that leadership effectiveness is vital to human resource management (HRM). Taken collectively, these theoretical implications, and by extension, practical implications, suggest that increased investment in EI and leadership effectiveness is critical for organizations and their HRM. Originality/value This paper sheds light on current trends and ways forward for leading by feeling, showcasing the role and manifestation of EI in leadership, its value for HRM and the importance of its congruence for effective leadership in shaping the future of work.
Research Findings: This study investigated 1220 kindergarten teachers in the Chinese context, exploring the relationships among their perception of servant leadership, emotional labor strategies and relative outcomes. The results showed that surface acting and the natural expression of felt emotions mattered for teachers’ organizational commitment and intention to leave. Teachers’ perception of servant leadership was both directly and indirectly related to teachers’ organizational commitment and intention to leave. Two emotional labor strategies, natural expression of felt emotions and surface acting, were found to play significant mediating roles. Practices and Policy: Both servant leadership and emotional labor were significantly related to kindergarten teachers’ organizational commitment and intention to leave. Teachers’ natural expression of felt emotions can be encouraged, and emotion-focused programs can be provided to help teachers better regulate their emotions in kindergarten classrooms. Kindergarten principals are suggested to exercise servant leadership practices to support teachers in expressing their emotions appropriately.
Full-text available
Bu çalışmada Ticaret ve Sanayi Odalarının üye ilişkileri yönetimi kapsamında hangi düzeyde ne tür faaliyetlere yer verdiklerinin tespit edilmesi, ilgili faaliyetlerin nasıl uygulandığının incelenmesi ve bu süreçte bilişim teknolojilerinden ne düzeyde yararlandıklarının belirlenmesi amaçlanmıştır. Çalışmanın amaçlarına bağlı olarak nitel yöntemlerin yararlanıldığı bir araştırma kurgulanmış ve ikincil veriler kapsamında Ticaret ve Sanayi Odalarının web sitelerinde “üye ilişkileri yönetimi politikaları ve uygulamaları” başlıklarında kamuya açık olarak paylaşılmış metinler doküman analizi tekniği ile incelenmiştir. Araştırmanın örneklemini 44 metin oluşturmakta olup, metinlerin analizinde Maxqda programından yararlanılmıştır. Bulgular, faaliyet türünün üye yönetimi hizmetleri ve üye gelişimine yönelik hizmetler olarak iki ana kategori altında toplandığını göstermektedir. Faaliyetlerin uygulanma biçiminde ise bulgular, görev ve hizmetlerin yasallığı, üyelerden gelen istek, talep, öneri ve şikâyetler, oda personelinin profili, üye iletişim biçimi ile üye yönetimi ilkeleri gibi faktörlerin etkili olduğunu ortaya koymaktadır. Bununla birlikte odaların büyük çoğunluğunun oldukça basit düzeyde bilişim teknolojilerinden yararlandıkları, fakat bazılarının kalite yönetim sistemi ve üye memnuniyet sistemi gibi daha karmaşık teknoloji odaklı sitemleri benimsedikleri görülmüştür. Çalışmanın üye ilişkileri yönetimi ile yönetim bilişim sistemleri yazınlarına ve üye ilişkileri yönetimiyle ilgili olan tüm dernek, oda veya benzer kamu kuruluşlarına pratik düzeyde katkı sağlaması beklenmektedir.
Araştırmada örgütsel psikolojik sermayenin çalışanların gösterdiği duygusal emek üzerindeki etkisi ve bu ilişkide gelişim kültürünün aracı rol alıp almadığının incelenmesi amaçlanmıştır. Araştırmada kullanıan veriler Erzurum ilinde sağlık turizmi yetki belgesine sahip iki kamu (devlet ve üniversite) hastanesinde görev yapan 488 sağlık çalışanından basit tesadüf örneklem yöntemine göre toplanmıştır. Gerçekleştirilen analiz sonuçları değerlendirildiğinde örgütsel psikolojik sermayenin duygusal emek tutumu üzerinde pozitif yönlü ve anlamlı etkisi olduğu tespit edilmiştir. Gelişim kültürüne ilişkin algının yüksek düzeyde olması örgütsel psikolojik sermayenin duygusal emek üzerindeki pozitif etkisini artırmakta, gelişim kültürüne ilişkin algının düşük düzeyde olması örgütsel psikolojik sermayenin duygusal emek üzerindeki pozitif etkisini azaltmaktadır. Bu anlamda örgütsel gelişim kültürü ulusal kalkınma stratejisinin önemli bir parçası olan sağlık turizmi yatırım ve planlamalarına da pozitif anlamda etki edecektir.
Full-text available
The potential significance of mindfulness for social relations at work has been recognized in the recent management literature, yet a thorough investigation has been lacking into how mindfulness may help leaders tap into their other-orientation. In this study, we examine whether and how mindfulness training contributes to the development of leaders’ social awareness by studying the experiences of 62 leaders who participated in an 8-week-long mindfulness training program. Our study contributes to the literature on management learning and mindfulness in leadership in three ways. First, it identifies how the leaders who participated in mindfulness training see themselves developing toward becoming more socially aware in situations involving followers across the three interlinked domains of human functioning—the cognitive, affective, and behavioral—clarifying mindfulness as an interpersonal phenomenon. Second, it highlights mindfulness as a value-based developmental practice instead of merely a personal stress reduction and attention-enhancement technique. Third, it proposes mindfulness training as a viable approach to enhance leaders’ social awareness through a combination of a formal program and continuous self-development, departing from the views of mindfulness as a “quick fix.” It also provides a conceptual framework that illustrates the pathway with the potential to build social leadership capacity.
Full-text available
Emotional labor is the display of expected emotions by service agents during service encounters. It is performed through surface acting, deep acting, or the expression of genuine emotion. Emotional labor may facilitate task effectiveness and self-expression, but it also may prime customer expectations that cannot be met and may trigger emotive dissonance and self-alienation. However, following social identity theory, we argue that some effects of emotional labor are moderated by one's social and personal identities and that emotional labor stimulates pressures for the person to identify with the service role. Research implications for the micro, meso, and macro levels of organizations are discussed.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This meta-analysis examined how demand and resource correlates and behavioral and attitudinal correlates were related to each of the 3 dimensions of job burnout. Both the demand and resource correlates were more strongly related to emotional exhaustion than to either depersonalization or personal accomplishment. Consistent with the conservation of resources theory of stress, emotional exhaustion was more strongly related to the demand correlates than to the resource correlates, suggesting that workers might have been sensitive to the possibility of resource loss. The 3 burnout dimensions were differentially related to turnover intentions, organizational commitment, and control coping. Implications for research and the amelioration of burnout are discussed.
This paper focuses on themes of emotionality and emotional labour derived inductively from retrospective narratives constructed by employees who experienced rapid organisational change and specifically addresses the question: ‘How do people talk about the need to “dull down” their emotions during situations of organisational change?’ We highlight themes of loss associated with retrospective displays of emotion and argue that loss and emotion management are most typically associated with issues concerning transition from the past or resistance to the future. We show how emotional labour serves both to mute and, ironically, to heighten emotions in the talk of change and extend studies of emotional labour beyond the service encounter and into the realm of organisational change.
Although organisations often implement team-based structures to improve performance, such restructuring does not automatically ameliorate poor performance. The study in this article explores the relationship between team members' negative mood and team processes (social cohesion, workload sharing, team conflict) to determine if negative mood has a detrimental effect on team performance via team processes. Two hundred and forty one participants completed surveys and were involved in an independently rated performance task that was completed over eight weeks. Negative mood was found to influence team processes and as a consequence, team performance. The results, however, were not uniformly negative. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.
We present a model of CEO charismatic leadership in organizations and show how such leadership can, through levels of management and analysis, impact organizational performance. We integrate levels issues relevant to the conceptualization of theoretical constructs and their relationships, measurement, and echelons, and develop the concept of close versus distant leadership as a means of understanding the dynamics of CEO leadership. We also include a consideration of possible alternative levels of analysis at which the constructs in our model may be operating.
This article conceptualizes the emotional labor construct in terms of four dimensions: frequency of appropriate emotional display, attentiveness to required display rules, variety of emotions to be displayed, and emotional dissonance generated by having to express organizationally desired emotions not genuinely felt. Through this framework, the article then presents a series of propositions about the organizational-, job-, and individual-level characteristics that are antecedents of each of these four dimensions. Frequency of emotional display, attentiveness to display rules, variety of emotions to be displayed, and emotional dissonance are hypothesized to lead to greater emotional exhaustion, but only emotional dissonance is hypothesized to lead to lower job satisfaction. Implications for future theory development and empirical research on emotional labor are discussed as well.