Is leadership a part of me? A leader identity approach to understanding the motivation to lead
Drawing on social comparison and identity literature, we suggest that individuals' comparisons of themselves to their own standards of leadership relate to their leadership motivation. We propose and test a model of motivation to lead (MTL) based on two types of self-to-leader comparisons: self-to-exemplar and self-to-prototype comparisons with respect to affiliation. In our main study, using data from a sample of 180 executives, we apply structural equation models to test our predictions. We find that self-comparisons with concrete, influential leaders of the past or present (self-to-exemplar comparisons) relate positively to MTL. We also find that self-comparisons with more general representations of leaders (self-to-prototype comparisons in affiliation) relate to MTL. Whereas the effect of self-to-exemplar comparisons is mediated through individuals' leadership self-efficacy perceptions, the effect of self-to-prototype comparisons is not. We replicate these findings in three follow-up studies using different research designs. We derive implications for theory and practice.
With permission of Elsevier