We examined the influence of general mental ability, self-esteem and family socioeconomic status on leadership role occupancy and leader advancement (defined as the increase in supervisory scope via the number of employees supervised), as well as the moderating role of gender in these relationships.
Using a nationally representative sample from the U.S. with 1747 working individuals across a time span of 10 years, we found that 1) self-esteem had a significant and positive influence on leadership role occupancy for both males and females and on leadership advancement in terms of supervisory scope over time for females; and 2) family socioeconomic status exerted an adverse effect on female leadership advancement.
The influence of general mental ability on the two leadership variables was not significant for either males or females, but the difference in its effect on the initial status of supervisory scope for males and females was significant. These results suggest that self-esteem plays an important role in leadership role occupancy and leader advancement and that the influence of family socioeconomic status on leader advancement is contingent on gender.
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