Do individuals desire different traits in leaders dependent on the leader's position in the
organizational hierarchy? To address this question participants first rated the traits they perceived their current supervisor possessed traits they desired in their supervisor and traits they viewed were characteristic of a leader in that role (Study 1). Next participants rated the desirability of these same traits for 6 high-level and 6 low-level leaders (Study 2). Finally to force them to prioritize traits participants designed ideal high-level or low-level leaders by “purchasing” leadership traits using limited budgets of tokens (Study 3). Overall participants highly and consistently desired trustworthiness and intelligence across leaders yet they differentially desired other traits depending on the level of leadership. In addition the desired–current discrepancy predicted leader–member exchange job satisfaction and organizational commitment even after controlling
for the prototype–current discrepancy.We discuss the implications of these findings for leadership selection development and promotion.
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