The Five Factor view of personality describes an emerging consensus on the structure of personality in five main factors, often labeled Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Openness to Experience (e.g., Costa and McCrae, 1992; Digman, 1990; Goldberg,1990). The Big Five traits are found consistently using different research methods and have been recognized as genetically based, stable, and cross culture generalizable (e.g., Costa and McCrae,1988; Digman and Shmelyov, 1996; McCrae and Costa, 1997). The Five Factor model provides a comprehensive theoretical framework for comparing empirical findings among researchers.
Here we aim to test how the Big Five” relate to empowering leadership. Many studies and several meta-analyses found significant relationships of the Big Five traits with different leader behaviors and with leader effectiveness (e.g., De Hoogh et al., 2005; Judge and Bono, 2000; Judge et al., 2002a; Lim and Ployhart, 2004). Although relationships between personality and leadership typically do not tend to be high, meta-analyses do show they are consistent and stable effects (e.g., Bono and Judge, 2004).
. For example, Sacket and Wanek (1996) report that integrity tests correlate with conscientiousness, agreeableness, and emotional stability. Also, Mayer et al. (2007) found that agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism were the three most important leader traits for creating a justice climate. Below, we focus on the five traits for which strong theoretical linkages with ethical leader behaviors exist (conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, and openness to experience and emotional stability) 2.1.1 ExtraversionExtraversion refers to benevolence, friendliness, talkativeness and assertiveness (Antes et al., 2007; 16).Since extraverts are positive, ambitious, and influential; they are likely to generate confidence and enthusiasm among followers (Bono and Judge, 2004, 902). Their optimistic views of the future allow them to be perceived as leader like (Hogan et al., 1994), and therefore it is not surprising that Judge and his colleagues (2002) found extraversion as the most strongly trait related to leader emergence.Extraverts are talkative, high spirited, ambitious, and assertive individuals, who spend a lot of time in social activities (Costa & McCrae, 1992; Bruck & Allen, 2003).Extraversion is expected to be related to psychological empowerment’s dimension of competence/self-efficacy for three main reasons. First, since high energy/arousal is analogous to the notion of self-efficacy (Thoms, Moore, & Scott, 1996), it makes sense that extraversion, which is strongly associated with higher level of energy (Costa & McCrae, 1992), predict self-efficacy. Second, thanks to their positive emotionality (i.e. one of the main characteristics of extraverts [Watson & Clark, 1997]), individuals high in extraversion are likely to have greater confidence in their work-related abilities (Judge & Ilies, 2002). Finally, extraverts tend to perform better in jobs that require higher level of social interaction (e.g. service jobs; Liao & Chuang, 2004).2.1.2 Conscientiousness:The trait conscientiousness consists of two main facets, namely, dependability reflecting being thorough, dutiful, responsible, and organized, and achievement representing the capacity to work hard and meet challenges (Digman, 1990; McCrae and Costa, 1987). Highly conscientious individuals tend to think carefully before acting and adhere closely to their moral obligations and perceived responsibilities (Costa and McCrae, 1992). This is relevant for leaders to be perceived as Empower. Empowering Leaders contribute to creating an environment for followers to develop a sense of affective commitment to the organization by letting them actually make decisions or by offering opportunities to voice their opinions in performing their work, thereby leading to an increased sense of responsibility (Kim and Beehr, 2018). By acting dutifully themselves leaders high on conscientiousness are likely to be seen as role models of appropriate behavior. This is in line with the social learning framework (Kalshoven, HartogandHoogh, 2011). The duty element of conscientiousness (i.e.,responsible, dependable, and deliberate) may make individuals more likely to do the right thing, not only for themselves, but also for others (Moon, 2001). In addition, leaders high on conscientiousness are expected to behave consistently and thus also treat subordinates in a consistent way (Mayer et al., 2007). In doing so, leaders high on conscientiousness are likely to follow the rules and work transparently. In addition, highly conscientious individuals prefer personal responsibility (Witt et al., 2002). In line with this, Sheppard and Lewicki (1987) found that leaders high on conscientiousness are more expected to communicate important information to their employees. Thus conscientiousness is likely to be positively related to the dimension role clarification.2.1.3 Agreeableness:Agreeableness reflects the tendencies to be kind, gentle, trusting, honest, altruistic, and warm (McCrae and Costa, 1987). Leaders high on agreeableness deal with maintenance of social relations (Jensen-Campbell and Graziano, 2001). Also, they are sensitive to the needs of subordinates. Empowering leaders are described as employee responsible and customer oriented behavior therefore, agreeableness is expected to relate positively to empowering leadership. Agreeable individuals are described as caring and emphatic to others. This suggests leaders high on agreeableness are likely to treat employees in a fair and respectful manner and to attempt to not offend them. Additional support for the link between agreeableness and fairness relates to the straightforwardness element of agreeableness (McCrae and Costa, 1987). Straightforwardness reflects being honest, sincere, and truthful in dealing with others (Costa et al., 1991), which implies behaving fairly. Also, being straightforward and trusting as a leader makes it easier to delegate and share sensitive information, which means those agreeable individuals as leaders may be more likely to share their power. Also, leaders high on agreeableness are expected to provide justifications to subordinates about decision making, because of their sympathetic and sensitive characteristics (Mayer et al., 2007). This again suggests a link with power sharing. We do not expect a relationship of agreeableness with role clarification. Role clarification is task related leader behavior. Agreeable individuals are more likely to focus on relational aspects (Costa et al., 1991).2.1.4. Neuroticism:Individuals high in neuroticism tend to view the world through a negative lens. According to Costa and McCrae (1992), at the core of neuroticism is the tendency to experience negative effects, such as fear, sadness, guilt, and anger. Individuals who score high in neuroticism tend to experience emotional distress, whereas those who score low on the trait are calm, even tempered, and relaxed. Judge,Erez, Bono, and Thoresen (2002) revealed a strong association between neuroticism and low self-esteem and low general self-efficacy. Individuals high in neuroticism should be less likely to attempt to lead and less likely to involve themselves in their subordinates’ efforts (Bass, 1985, p. 173), tending to avoid leadership responsibilities. Furthermore, they are not likely to be seen as role models, are unlikely to have a positive view of the future, and may be too anxious to undertake transformational change efforts. Hence, it is unlikely that they will exhibit transformational leadership behaviors, such as idealized influence, inspirational motivation, or intellectual stimulation (Bono & Judge, 2004).