Please do not quote

Julio Cañedo, University of Houston
Steven Ginsburg, Metrus Group
Miriam Grace, Boeing Company
George Graen, UIUC (Ret.)
William Schiemann, Metrus Group

© Copyright, George B. Graen, 7/24/2017


In view of the recent discussions of the scientist-practitioners gap in TIP, we would like to alert our practitioners to important findings that research: prescribed behaviors for leaders from classic leadership theories (Transformational Leadership Theory, Kouzes-Posner Leadership Theory, Ohio State University Leadership Theory) were unrelated to follower performance unless the proper states of three big mediating conditions were first established. The big 3 mediating conditions should be no surprise to our fellow practitioners, because they have seen the unfortunate frustration of both leaders and followers when these necessary conditions are bypassed.

The big 3 beliefs of all followers about their leader necessary to instill the mediating conditions are: Followers must believe their leader is (1) Competent, (2) Trustworthy and (3) Benevolent in working with them and followers must believe their leader reciprocates and believes the same about them.  Once these beliefs are established, the prescribed leader behavior becomes related to follower performance.  A psychometrically sound measure of the state of the necessary variables is available from the authors without charge (Graen & Schiemann, 2013).  In addition, methods for CEOs, managers and HRMs to meet these conditions are described in the leadership literature recommended (Graen & Cañedo, 2017).

Given these findings, we report in this paper on the necessity to supersede our traditional leadership education and training programs to make them compatible with emergent science and art. We concluded the following  from our two-year review of 21st century -leader-follower alliance:  (a) Necessary  conditions have been identified which together mediate the relationship between prescribed leader beliefs and communications and later follower performance; (b) Current prescriptive protocols need to be changed to focus on establishing and maintaining the big 3 variables, and (c) Clients need to be made aware of the harm possible without these necessary mediators (Graen & Cañedo, 2017). 

Leadership education is a broad field of understanding the (1) evolution, (2) nature and (3) future of the uniquely human process of co-creating the big 3 necessary conditions.  In general, methods prescribed to meet these necessary conditions involve education to appreciate the larger context of leaders and followers in teams and coached practice to build confidence in the new protocols.  With teams and networks of these alliances, leaders may multiply follower collaborative performance and happiness (Sparrowe & Liden, 2005).  We feel it is a fulfilling growth experience to be a follower of a big 3 leader and it’s too important to be left to amateurs.  It’s an exciting time to be in leadership education. 

Recent history

The state of leadership research by the end of the last century was struggling with a suspected “missing-link.”  For example, research established proper practice of transformational leadership theory was only effective for a minority of a team, as demonstrated by later follower performance (Hollander, 2012; Riggio &Ono 2000).  The supporters of transformational theory suggested that their missing-link was how “authentic” or “real” the followers described their leaders to be (Bass & Riggio, 2006).  Unfortunately, psychology cannot find an acceptable measure of a leader’s true self or soul to compare with observed behavior (Hollander, 2012).  Other constructs with acceptable operational definitions were proposed as the missing mediator (Campbell, 2012; Gottfredson & Aguinis, 2016).  The latter study performed a mega-analysis of 3,327 studies involving 930,349 observations.  This analysis was a comparative structure equation study of meta-analyses.  The tested mediators were leader-member exchange, organizational citizen behavior, procedural justice, role ambiguity, role conflict, overall job satisfaction, trust in leader and satisfaction with leader.  The final results indicated the best fitting mediator was leader-member exchange quality.  After this breakthrough investigation, we asked the question, what are the implications for leadership education and best practice?  This paper begins to answer this question.

Formal and expected employment contracts and interpersonal alliances

We think the basic concepts to be identified, understood and taught are part of a network system yielding the leader-follower alliance system of protocols.  Briefly identifying the differences between the more important contributors would include: (1) Legal employment contract, (2) Psychological employment contract, and (3) LMX-alliance.  These three concepts may be confused and need to be distinguished.  An employment contract is a legally binding agreement between an organization and an applicant describing their exchange relationship of performing satisfactorily on a job and the compensation paid.  In contrast, a psychological employment contract contains the hopes and dreams of expected outcomes not included explicitly in the formal agreement.  Employees may become dissatisfied when the realized outcomes do not include their hoped-for items.  A leader-member two-person exchange alliance is an agreement to collaborate on protecting and serving a team in exchange for professional mentoring of the follower by the leader.  Such an alliance is independent of the formal employment contract between a follower and an organization and the psychological employment contract between an employee and an idealized employer.

Expanded realistic model of project team performance

The traditional 20th century model of the leadership scenario focused on the relationship between leader influence attempts on a team and team performance.  The characteristics of actors, behavior and context were variable from one situation to another.  The theory apparently applied to all leaders and teams performing all projects in any context.  However, the relationship of interest was found to apply only to a minor proportion of team members.  The more realistic 21st century model has an enlarged scenario including (1) CEO delegating a project with strategic implications to (2) a responsible executive who delegates the operation to (3) a team with a (4) leader and (5) an executive team coach.  The executive is responsible for meeting the requirements for the proper use of a project team (Hackman & Wageman, 2005).  The new model assumes that team performance may be influenced for good or ill by all the actors.  Realistic project teams typically contain a mixture of LMX-alliances (leadership) and command and control (position power) relationships.  These complex team scenarios need to be analyzed by professionals for training and development needs (Steiber, 2011).

New team deliverables

Instructing the 21st century model of project team leadership development with its big 3 mediating variables may result in a more productive team in terms of (1) improvements in an organization’s sales volume, (2) annual growth in sales, (3) sales volume of new accounts, (4) market share, and (5) number of new products sold (Gottfredson & Aguinis, 2016).  Operationally the missing-link of achieving leader-member interpersonal big 3 alliances is assessed by the quality of interpersonal respect of competence, trust in character, and benevolence of a relationship measured by “LMX-TEAM” (Graen & Schiemann, 2013).  The above company-level outcomes of standard unit improvements were measured by the LMX-A and estimates were shown for four different interventions.  The most positive outcomes were for (1) initiating structure with the highest gains, followed by (2) consideration, (3) transformational leadership, and (4) contingent rewards in that order.  These are very strong, practical results.  The study continues with the mega-confirmation that a successfully negotiated interpersonal leadership alliance is a necessary condition, which must be established, as indicated by agreement between leader and member independently, on the LMX-A measure (Gottfredson & Aguinis, 2016). 

This is probably the necessary missing-link in our leadership theories:  Without an alliance agreement, the theories of leader incentive such as transformational conversion, transactional contingent rewards, consideration, and structuring do not relate to follower performance for all.  This means that offers of better conditions do not relate to follower performance because the offers are perceived as lacking competence, or trustworthiness or benevolence or at least one of the big 3 conditions.  Students of leadership need to understand the circumstance and problem-solving competence of leaders planning to co-create with followers their best customized team.  Becoming part of an active, supportive, psychologically safe, and fulfilling leadership team with collaboration from both passive and active peers seems to be an experience worthy of good feelings and fond memories.

New Workplace Experience (NWX) Context

The findings outlined in this paper should not be surprising, given the increasing need for advanced talent management innovations required to create and sustain a talent pipeline for difficult to find and harder to keep knowledge-worker professionals (Graen & Grace, 2015a, 2015b).  Workplace culture has emerged as a defining element for competitive differentiation in the global talent marketplace, driving the need for a New Workplace Experience (NWX), as described by the editors of the Academy of Management (AoM) Journal (Gruber, et al, 2015).  The context that the Journal editors describe for this new behavior is holistic in its scope and includes “ organizational design and related incentives and management procedures; the task and associated business process design; the support tools and information services that enable the execution of the task; the physical and virtual environment in which the task takes place; the internal interactions between employees within a business or organizational function; as well as between functions and the extended enterprise and its partners and customers, and the organizational culture and communications and human resource support programs” (p. 4).  What is missing is the required leader behavior that has the power to transform human relationships and can make the promise of a new workplace experience authentic: the LMX-Alliance Agreement.

Executive team coach (ETC)

Executive coaching may improve the development of agreement between members and leaders regarding what each is authorized to do, the dynamic performance priorities, the budget, latitude, the rules of engagement, communications, and the quality of alliances (Fairhurst & Uhl-Bien, 2012).  Disagreements on these issues may lead to problems of follower performance and team disappointment.  As the team priorities change and signals are missed, teams fall into chaos.  Coaches can provide the trustworthy monitor, mentor, and cheerleader for the entire team.  This service may be developed in-house or subcontracted.  The mission of executive team coaches is to instruct a project team on clear alliance agreement and the stages of moving followers from strangers to associates to junior partners and to finally shape the team for performance.  Coaches may contribute substantially to winning teams (Weer, DiRenzo & Shipper, 2015).  This means all are valuable assets and trustworthy partners.  Coaches can supply communications from followers to executives for clear recognition of needed priorities.  The unfortunate performance management practice of quarterly feedback is a failure (Corporate Leadership Council, 2012) and needs to be replaced by continuous performance feedback and effective executive coaching.

Leadership educators

Some important implications for practitioners include the following:

Our traditional model is obsolete.

The 21st century theory is built on the very rock of the LMX-alliance.

Both leader and follower scripts, roles and norms and computer applications need to be internalized through proper education at the bachelors and master levels.

In addition, the support scripts, roles and norms of CEOs, project executives and executive coaches need to be included in the scope of study.

Knowledge of the design and development of effective and engaging ecologies need to be studied.

Practitioners in their field need to learn the facts and instruct them with the understanding of the recommendations and protocols.

Early and continuous attention is needed for recent hires employing development theory to enable Millennials to mature professionally. s.They are the future.

Design and develop new Millennial-effective people systems, e.g., new age performance management systems.

Retrain existing and new leaders in the new theory and practice.

Commit to the leader-follower alliance system for the long term.

Celebrate small wins and enjoy flexible designs.

Finally, the main reason team leaders cannot lead all of their direct reports are many, but most important is the “fear of failure” due to a lack of education in the theory and skills needed to dare beginning the initial private conversation about each employee’s hopes and dreams for a wonderful career of personal growth and helping people.  As for us, let’s share what we believe will be useful.  A generation is a terrible thing to waste by not really grooming its leaders and members to experience the promised joys of the new work life.  Finally, we conclude I-O psychologists should be on the new design teams to fit the new systems into different organizational contexts.


Bass, B. M. & Riggio, R. E. (2006).  Transformational Leadership.  2nd (ed.) Mahwak, N.J.: Erlbaum.

Campbell, J. (2012). Leadership, the old, the new, and the timeless: A commentary.  Oxford Handbook of Leadership. (Ed. Michael R. Rumsey). 401-422.  New York: Oxford University Press

Corporate Leadership Council. Driving breakthrough performance in new work environment, 2012, (Catalog No. CLc4570512SYN). Washington, DC: CEB

Fairhurst, G., & Uhl-Bien, M. (2012). Organizational Discourse Analysis (ODA): Examining leadership as a relational process.  Leadership Quarterly, 23(6): 1043-1062.

Gottfredson, R. K., & Aguinis, H. (2016). Leadership behaviors and follower performance: Deductive and inductive examination of theoretical rationales and underlying mechanisms.  Journal of Organizational Behavior. Wiley Online Library.  DOI: 10.11002/job.2152.

Graen, G. B. & Cañedo, J. C. (2017).  Charismatic and Innovative Team Leadership by and For Millennials In Oxford Bibliographies in Management Series.  New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

Graen, G., & Grace, M. (2015a). New talent strategy: Attract, process, educate, empower, engage and retain the best. SHRM-SIOP – White Paper. Retrieved from

Graen G. B., & Grace, M. (2015b). Positive industrial and organizational psychology: Designing for tech savvy, optimistic, and purposeful millennial professionals’ company cultures. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 8, 395-408.

Graen, G. B. & Schiemann, W. (2013).  Leadership-Motivated Excellence Theory: An Extension of LMX.  Journal of Managerial Psychology, 28, 5, 452-469.

Hackman, J. R., & Wageman, R. (2005).  A theory of team coaching.  Academy of Management Review, 30, pp. 269-287.

Hollander, E. P. (2012). Inclusive leadership.  (Ed.) Michael R. Rumsey).  Oxford Handbook of Leadership, London, UK: Oxford University Press, 122-143.

Riggio, R. E., & Ono. M. (2000).  Leadership Oxford Bibliographies in Management Series. New York: Oxford University Press.

Sparrowe, R. T., & Liden, R. C. (2005). Two routes to influence: Integrating leader-member exchange and network perspectives. Administrative Science Quarterly, 50, 4.

Steiber, A. (2011).  Research report on Managerial Leadership Needs.  Society for Human Research Management.  New York: SHRM.

Weer, C. H., DiRenzo, M. S., & Shipper, F. M., (2015).  A Holistic view of employee coaching: Longitudinal investigation of the impact of facilitative and pressure-based coaching on team effectiveness.  Journal of Applied Behavioral Science.  52, 2. pp 187-214.





George B. Graen
Center for Advanced Studies
University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana (Ret.)

This contribution to the symposium whose theme is, Leadership, Followership and Identity suggests the possibility of an intellectual marriage of two of the most popular bodies of knowledge in organizational behavior and organizational psychology.  Identity theory of leadership concentrates on the development of follower and leader dyadic identity and LMX theory focuses on the development of team member and leader unique strategic alliances LMX-USA in autonomous teams (Graen & Schiemann, 2013; Kark & Epitropaki, 2016). 

These two compatible research-based, theoretical frames are attempts to understand how the leader-follower leadership dyad develops into and dyadic charismatic LMX-USA and identities in teams employing proper antecedents and consequences.  My proposed primary goal is to successfully integrate these two approaches into a dual theory of building leadership and finds out which develops first and leads to the other or which develops in parallel.  My other goals are the intellectual and emotional development of (1) an effective LMX LMX-USA networks and (2) a mutually acceptable identities of "we" and not "me" or "you". (Graen & Canedo, 2017; Steffens, Haslam, Reicher, Platow, Fransen, Yang, Ryan, Jetten, Peters & Boen, 2014). 

This proposed marriage of the two theoretical approaches was recently made less complex (Kozlowski, Mak & Chao, 2016).  This article in the Annual Review of Organizational Behavior and Organizational Psychology raised the philosophy of science question regarding levels of analysis between team and individual members (Kozlowski & Bell, 2003).  The methodological error of theories of average leadership styles of supervisors with their teams was clearly stated for TFL theory.

"Although treating TFL [transformation-charismatic-authentic leadership] at the team level is consistent with theory, it is not clear how an average style of leadership at the team level would lead to variable outcomes at the individual level." (Kozlowski, et al., 2016, p. 26)

One way to look at this conundrum is to understand that an individual charismatic LMX-USA score is a description of the trustworthiness one's direct leader's communications.  This score predicts the performance, engagement and career optimism of a follower.  In contrast, the average or mean of a team's LMX-USA score is an unrepresentative description of the relative charisma of a team in a larger unit.  A proper measure of team charismatic is the proportion of trustworthy actors behavior in context (ABC) of team. Team score is a function of a multitude of team advantages in actors, behaviors and context (ABC) variables between teams.  In addition, to larger proportion of partners of the leader, a team may be fortunate in having more people who fit by virtue of their needed abilities, temperament, passion for work and any other relevant characteristics (actors), in having less difficult work (behaviors), and resources for conditions of different kinds (context).  Only the individual LMX-USA scores may be interpreted properly as influencing follower performance.  Unfortunately, many articles have been and are currently published in the best journals that miss this critical difference (Chen, Kirkman, Kanfer, Allen & Rosen, 2007).

The implications for the marriage of Identity of leader inventory (ILI) and LMX-USA (Tables 1 and 2)are that the leadership process takes place at the individual or dyadic level as found (Graen, Hui, & Taylor, 2006) and may moderate or mediate each others relationship with subsequent follower performance (Table 3 and Figure 1).  ID may very well act similarly.  In contrast, the within team variation (LMX-Differentiation) is a function of mean, variance, skewness and platosis of the distribution of LMX-USA in a team and is another team difference (average leadership style). 

Finally, a meta-analysis of meta-analyses concluded regarding the role of LMX-USA theory and average leadership theories stated:

"In short, the leader-follower relationship [LMX USA], as perceived by followers, is what seems to chart the pathway from leadership to follower performance, suggesting an important shift in leadership theory and practice.  (Gottfredson & Aguinis, 2016). 

In addition, this investigation concluded in practice, leaders should work to develop better and closer LMX-USA with followers working with them and developing trust, respect and benevolence.  Followers generally respond well to their LMX-USA team leadership. (Table 4).

I propose to measure charismatic LMX-USA at the individual level using the latest version (Graen & Schiemann, 2013) and the "identity of leadership inventory ILI (Steffens, et al., 2014).  I will collect individual scores and team distributions scores from both members and leaders along with plausible antecedent and outcome variables.  The design would be longitudinal and take new employees as they join the corporation and follow them through their fitting effectively into a team.  Data would be collected on at least four points in time.  A longitudinal design will be used and analyzed as a structural equation model of the developmental process of leadership-making and identity-making leading to follower performance at both individual and team-level. 

My proposal for the symposium is to present and participate in a discussion of the marriage of two theories over stages of team leadership development from "strangers" to "associates" to "partners" in teams (Figure 1).  I'm well versed in LMX-USA research and theory (Figure 2), but I would benefit from learning more from my colleagues about identity theory.  I have talked at length to Bob Lord about our respective work over the years and I consider him an expert on the applied cognitive literature of leadership (Bob and I are charter members of the Society of Organizational Behavior).  I look forward to a great learning experience and visit to one of the best places to visit and experience the world of ancient Greek thinkers including my supreme mentor Socrates the Great.


Chen, G., Kirkman, B. L., Kanfer, R., Allen, D., & Rosen, B. (2007) A multilevel study of leadership, empowerment, and performance in teams. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92: 331-346.

Gottfredson, R. K., & Aguinis, H. (2016).  Leadership behaviors and follower performance: Deductive and inductive examination of theoretical rationales and underlying mechanisms.  Journal of Organizational Behavior. Wiley Online Library.   DOI: 10.11002/job.2152.

Graen, G. B. & Canedo, J. (2017) A theory of coaching interpersonal alliances: Demystifying charismatic teams.  Administrative Science Quarterly.  (Under review)

Graen, G., B., Hui, C. & Taylor, E. A. (2006) Experience-based learning about LMX leadership and fairness in project teams: A dyadic directional approach, Academy of Management Learning and Education, 5(4) 448-460.

Graen, G. B., & Schiemann, W. (2013). Leadership-motivated excellence theory: An extension of LMX. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 28(5), 452–469.

Kark, R. & Epitropaki, O. (2016).  Theme: Leadership, followership and identity.  2nd Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Leadership Symposium.

Kozlowski, S. J., & Bell, B. S. (2003). Work groups and teams in organizations. In W. C. Borman, D. R. Ilgen, & R. J. Klimoski, Handbook of psychology (Vol. 12): Industrial and organizational psychology (pp. 333-375). New York: Wiley.

Kozlowski, S. W. J., Mak S. & Chao, G. T. (2016).  Team-Centric Leadership: An Integrative Review.  Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, Vol. 3: pp 21-54.

Steffens, N. K., Haslam, S. A., Reicher, S. D., Platow, M. J., Fransen, K., Yang, J., Ryan, M. K., Jetten, J., Peters, K., & Boen, F. (2014).  Leadership as social identity management: Introducing the Identity Leadership Inventory (ILI) to assess and validate a four-dimensional model   The Leadership Quarterly, 256, 5, pp 1001-1024.

[1] IPLS attendees have my permission to use LMX-USA without charge for research and teaching.e your paragraph here.


George Graen, Organizational Psychology Ph.D. University of Minnesota, has more than 50 years of experience in “people operations” globally.  He is well known internationally for his work discovering, refining and validating Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) theory of role making for team performance.  Retiring from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, he stepped up his record of ground breaking discoveries of research-based, innovative best HR practices.  He also continues to share his research-derived knowledge of people operations with Human Resources, Industrial-Organization Psychology and Academy of Management researchers and practitioners without any fee.  In 1976 he was made an American Psychological Association Research Fellow.  His preferred slogan reads:  “Employees should be valued for their contributions as much as customers for their coin”.


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George (Bear) Graen, Ph.D.