Does proactive personality matter in leadership transitions? effects of proactive personality on new leader identification and responses to new leaders and their change agendas

Kwok Yee Wing Lam, Cynthia Lee, M. Susan Taylor, Helen H. Zhao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the growing frequency of leadership transitions and their significant impact on team and organizational performance, little research has examined why and how teams develop identification with a new leader, or their subsequent receptiveness to the new leader's change initiatives. Drawing from the contrast and congruence effects and the theoretical perspectives of leader identification, this study empirically tests a model in which the congruence of new leaders' and their teams' proactive personalities foster new leader identification, as well as the team's behavioral responses to the new leader's change agenda. This effect is strongest when the new leader's proactive personality is higher than that of the former leader's proactive personality (positive contrast). Our findings of a four-wave "before-and-after" transition survey of 155 hotel employees and 51 new leaders, achieved through polynomial regression analyses, proved very insightful. We found that the congruence between a new leader's and his or her team's proactive personalities, and the positive contrast between a former leader's and the new leader's proactive personalities, enhanced new leader identification and the team's shared identification with the new leader's change agenda, and thereby led the team to exhibit more behavioral engagement with, and voice behavior about, the new leader's change agenda.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-263
Number of pages19
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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