Date of Completion

January 1982


Psychology, Social




Implicit leadership theory is the set of beliefs individuals hold regarding the behaviors characteristic of an effective leader. The present investigation explored these beliefs by developing a model of implicit leadership theory and testing its predictive validity.^ Subjects generated behaviors which they believed might characterize either an effective or ineffective supervisor. The 24 behaviors most frequently mentioned were used to develop a model of implicit leadership theory. These behaviors were presented to new subjects, who completed a sorting task which provided information about the perceived interrelationships among the supervisory behaviors. Multi-dimensional scaling of subjects' sorting judgments revealed a three-dimensional model. The three dimensions of this model were a task/socioemotional dimension distinguishing supervisory task behaviors from socioemotional behaviors, a participation dimension distinguishing participative behaviors from other supportive behaviors, and a reward dimension separating behaviors dealing with employee motivation from those which did not.^ The validity of this model was then assessed. Employees (n = 239) at five organizations rated their supervisors on the dimensions of implicit leadership theory and the Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire (LBDQ; Stogdill, 1963). Subordinate satisfaction with supervision, job, and coworkers was also assessed. Managerial personnel provided ratings of supervisory effectiveness. Leader behavior was unrelated to leader effectiveness. High levels of subordinate satisfaction with supervision were associated with high ratings of socioemotional and reward behavior on respectively the task/socioemotional and reward dimensions of implicit leadership theory, and with high ratings on the consideration scale of the LBDQ. High levels of subordinate job satisfaction were related to high ratings of task and reward behavior on the task/socioemotional and reward dimensions of implicit leadership theory, and to high ratings on the initiating structure scale of the LBDQ. The reward dimension accounted for variance in satisfaction ratings not explained by the LBDQ. Relationships between the task/socioemotional and reward dimensions of implicit leadership theory and subordinate satisfaction provide some evidence for the validity of implicit leadership theory. ^