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The role of leader relationship quality in the development of employee fit perceptions

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Despite being a subject of scholarly inquiry for nearly a century, some components of person–environment fit remain enigmatic. This research seeks to explore the relational factors that are associated with employee identity and how this lens can provide explanatory factors that link leader–employee relationships to employee performance. Across a two‐study, multi‐rater constructive replication design, our results support the tenets of the identity theory that suggests the quality of the leader–employee relationships informs employees of their person–organization (PO) and person–job (PJ) fit, leading to higher performance. Across both the studies, high‐quality leader–employee relations (conceptualized as LMX and trust in leader) were related to higher levels of PO and PJ fit. Our results also indicate that PO and PJ fit uniquely drive higher levels of performance as rated by multiple constituents, helping delineate the impact of PO and PJ fit on work outcomes. Specifically, in Study One (N = 111), PJ fit mediated the relationship between LMX and leader‐rated performance, whereas in Study Two (N = 94), PO fit mediated the relationship between trust in leader and peer‐rated performance. This work provides preliminary support that leaders, through their relationships, can help shape employee fit perceptions and ultimately impact performance. Such knowledge can inform organizations and leaders, and emphasizes the formative role that leaders play in the organizational lives of their employees.
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Keywords: LMX; PJF; POF; performance; trust

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2019

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