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Admiration improves employees' goal orientation and situational performance

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  • Save International Journal of Applied Psychology 2012, 2(4): 43-52 DOI: 10. 5923/j.ijap.20120204.02 The Emotion of Admiration Improves Employees’ Goal Orientations and Contextual Performance Elisa Maria Galliani, Miche lange lo Viane llo* University of Padova, Padova, 35131, Italy Abstract Admiration is the other-praising emotion elicited by the display of outstanding skills, talents, or achievements. Most leadership theories state that effective leaders are ad mired role models that fo llo wers emu late. Nevertheless, no demonstration has been provided so far about the actual role of ad miration in the leader-follower relationship. This paper shows that leaders who display technical and managerial co mpetences motivate employees by means of the positive emotion of admiration they elicit. Specifically, we hypothesized and demonstrated that admirat ion elicited in employees by their leader’s skills increases both their goal orientation to prove and imp rove their own skills and their contextual performance. In a first field experiment on 137 sales representatives we observed an indirect positive relationship between leader’s skills and followers’ state-goal orientations. Admiration mediated the positive effect o f leader’s skills on emp loyees’ motivation. In this study, we also observed a direct and detrimental impact of leaders’ skills on employees learn ing and proving goal orientations. In a second, cross-sectional, study on 146 full-t ime teachers we observed that admiration –co mpared with happiness and gratitude– is the best predictor of state-learning-goal orientation and organizat ional c itizenship behaviors. Implications and limits are d iscussed. Keywords Admiration; Goal Orientation, Organizat ional Cit izenship Behavior, Leader Co mpetence 1. Introduction Emot ions give rise to specific motivations, or action tendencies, that in turn activate behaviors[1]. Understanding and describing the motivational lin k between emotion and behavior helps to define the emotion itself, to understand its functions and, ultimately, to give an account of individual behavior. In this article, across two studies we demonstrate that the other-directed positive emotion of admiration can increase emp loyees’ motivation to prove and improve their skills and their intention to help and respect colleagues and s u perv is o rs . According to Affective Events Theory (AET,[2]), people react emotionally to job events that occur day by day in their workplace, and such emotional responses directly influence their att itudes and behavior. The leader-follower interaction represents a typical class of those situations in which affective events occur (see[3]), because “leadership is an emotion-laden process, both fro m a leader and a follower perspective”([4], p. 1046). Despite the increasing research interest that in recent times has concerned the positive emotions involved in the leadership processes (see e.g .[3,5,6,7], the examin at ion of the ro le o f pos it ive * Corresponding author: (Michelangelo Vianello) Published online at Copyright © 2012 Scientific & Academic Publishing. All Rights Reserved other-directed emotions involved in the leader-fo llo wer relationship has been undeservedly neglected. Especially, if some exceptions are related to the study of empathy (8), gratitude[9], and moral elevation[10], there is a nearly complete lack of research concerning leadership and admiration. This might appear quite odd, considering that the perceived competence of leaders is not only at the basis of their leg itimation by followers, but also the foundation of their abilit ies to mot ivate followers. Leadership and admiration Leaders’ display of competence is at the centre of most leadership theories, fro m the early “pre-contingency theory” to the latest transformational approach. In his functional integration of current knowledge on leadership effect iveness, Chemers ([11], p. 40) argues that “leaders must first establish the legitimacy of their authority by appearing competent and trustworthy to their followers”. Hollander’s seminal research[12,13] pointed out that leaders’ legitimacy is rooted in their perceived co mpetence and trustworthiness. A decade later, cognitive models of leadership stressed the centrality of leader legit imacy –which direct ly depends on followers’ perceptions of leader co mpetence– in understanding the bases of leadership effectiveness (see[14,15]). Even the application of social identity theory to leadership perception[16] confirms the tendency of follo wers to value leaders who show task-relevant co mpetence and embody group values. Lastly, research on charis matic and transformat ional leadership considers leader competence and trustworthiness to be at the root of the influential power of 44 Elisa M aria Galliani et al.: The Emotion of Admiration Improves Employees’ Goal Orientations and Contextual Performance leaders[17-18]. It is through their charisma/ idealized influence that charismatic/transformational leaders are ad mired, respected, and trusted by their followers, and it’s through their inspirational mot ivation that they encourage and motivate followers. Charismat ic and transformational leaders are seen as admired and trusted role models such that followers identify with them and seek to emu late them (19) Nevertheless, any clear demonstration has never been provided of the link between the affective response of the followers to their leaders’ charisma and competence and the effectiveness of the motivational influence of charismat ic/transformat ional leaders. McCann, Langford, and Rawlings [20] showed the mediational ro le played in the leadership process by two feelings of follower appreciation (inspiration and awe), but the authors operationalized them as cognitive rather than affective variables, i.e. follower’s beliefs about leader’s competence and charisma. In this paper, we test the hypothesis that leaders who d isplay technical and managerial co mpetences motivate employees by means of the positive emotion of ad miration they elicit. Admiration is typically elicited by the perception of others’ excellence. Ortony, Clore and Collins[21] include admiration within the family of the appreciation emotions, together with appreciat ion, awe, esteem, and respect. Haidt and colleagues ([22-24]) conceived admirat ion as the peculiar emot ion elicited by the extraord inary display of any skill, talent or achievement by others that motivates people to improve and become skilled. This defin ition is built on the concept of freely-conferred prestige and sees its phylogenetic evolution as a part of hu man capacity for cu lture (s ee[25 ]) : “Once humans began to do most of their learn ing by copying others, it became impo rtant to find the best role models to copy.” Individuals who excel in any culturally valued skill therefore draw attention and draw fo llo wers.[…] Followers feel ad miration and a desire for pro ximity towards prestigious people, not fear and a desire for avoidance, as is typical in dominance relationships” ([24], p. 5). Admiration is thus meant as the emotional basis wh ich gives rise to the motivational state of inspiration (see[26,27]). Indiv iduals displaying outstanding achievements or abilit ies act as role models that inspire those who admire them to increase their own skills and accomplish higher goals. In Haidt’s[28] conceptualization, ad miration belongs to the family of the other-praising emot ions, which are elicited by other persons’ excellence that typically give rise to self-enhancing and prosocial behaviors([21,28]). The fa mily also includes gratitude, wh ich is the emotional response to other people’s acts that benefit the self, and elevation, which is the emot ional response to the display of mo ral v irtue (see also[24,29,30]). In contrast, admiration is elicited by any display of non-moral excellence (i.e. academic, professional or sport-related skills, talents or achievements) that doesn’t directly benefit the observer. Admiration motivates people to emulate the admired person, improve them- selves, and work harder on their o wn goals[22,24]. Following AET[2] and drawing on Haidt’s conceptual view on ad miration, we believe that each demonstration of a great deal of competence – both technical and managerial – by a leader acts as an affect ive event that elicits the specific affective response of admiration in emp loyees. Hypothesis 1. Leader co mpetence elicits admiration in fo llo wers . Admiration and state-goal orientations The construct of goal orientation (GO) refers to an individual’s dispositional or situational goal preference in achievement settings. Originally developed in educational psychology[33], it was later introduced into organizational psychology[34]. Cu rrently, GO appears to play an important role in many work-related topics such as personnel selection[35], training[36], performance[37], goal setting[38], organizational change[39], and organizational climate and culture[40]. GO was in itially conceptualized as a bipolar construct that distinguished individuals with a preference for learning or mastery goals over performance goals[33,41]. More recently, learning and performance GOs have been found to be independent, though correlated, dimensions[42], and performance GO turned out to be multidimensional and constituted by ‘prove’ and ‘avoid’ dimensions[43]. Even more recently, a three-factor model of GO was suggested[44]. A Learning GO focuses on the development of competence by acquiring new skills and mastering new situations, a Proving-Performance GO focuses on the demonstration of one’s competence by seeking favorable judgments fro m others, and an Avoiding-Performance GO focuses on the fear of displaying lack o f ability in o rder to avoid negative judgments from others[44,45]. The avoiding dimension of performance GO negatively affects self-regulation, learning strategies, task performance, and intrinsic motivation[46]. In contrast, both Learning GO and Proving-Performance GO positively impact learning strategies and job performance, with a significant incremental validity over and above cognitive ability and the Big Five[47]. When temporal stability is concerned, most authors agree in conceptualizing GO at both trait-level and state-level, with the trait-GO having a direct effect on the state-GO, but with a nu mber of other psychological and situational variables operating concurrently[48]. We predict that the emotional state elicited in fo llo wers by the perception of their leader’s co mpetence will enhance their actual motivation to both develop and demonstrate competence in achiev ing situations. It has been shown that admiration motivates people to improve and become mo re skilled[22,24]). Thus, it is reasonable to hypothesize that it will boost follo wers’ state-Learn ing GO, increasing their actual preference for acquiring new skills and improving themselves. Admiration also motivates people to emulate the role models and strengthen the relationship with them[24]. This leads us to expect that admirat ion elicited by a competent leader will also boost followers’ state-Proving-Performance GO, increasing their desire to International Journal of Applied Psychology 2012, 2(4): 43-52 45 show their value and gain favorable judgments fro m the leader. Hypothesis 2. Admiration for a co mpetent leader increases followers’ state-Learn ing GO and state-Proving-Performance GO. Basically, leadership is a matter of in fluence[49]. In a social learning perspective, leaders influence the behavior of their followers via modelling processes, i.e. through psychological processes like observational learning, imitation, and identificat ion (50,51). Shamir, House, and Arthur[52] have defined role modeling as a class of leader behaviors that leads to the motivational processes entailed in transformational leadership: The leader provides a point of reference and focus to followers’ emulat ion. Admiration has been proven to be the unique emotional response to any upward assimilative social co mparison to a warm and competent role model and the mediator between co mpetence judgments and the consequent motivation to contact, cooperation, and positive approach behaviors[53,54]. Considering ad miration as a source of mot ivation to emulate the ro le models, and strengthen the relationship with them, we predict that admiration mediates the relationship between followers’ perception of their leaders as competent inspiring role models and their state-GOs. Hypothesis 3. Admirat ion med iates the effects of leader perceived competence on follo wers’ state-GOs. 2. Study 1 2.1. Participants, Design and Materials 137 sales representatives of a leading European direct selling organization active in the automot ive sector participated in the study for no reward. Participants were all men. Their mean age was 36.42 years (SD=7.14). We conducted a field experiment manipulating leader competence by means of 2 scenarios: High Skill and Low Skill (control). Participants were invited to participate in the research on a voluntary basis and for no reward. A questionnaire was sent to each potential participant by standard mail, preceded by a letter in which researchers introduced themselves and the research. Participants were asked to return their anonymous questionnaires in a box placed in the main entrance of the office. The questionnaire asked participants to identify themselves with an emp loyee of Max Castle, a fict itious leader presented in the scenarios. In the High Skill group, Max Castle was depicted as a very skilled leader: “Max Castle obtained 10 years ago a Master’s degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, after which he built a brilliant career in financial bro kerage. Max Castle is known for his professional talent and for his sensitivity in interpersonal re lationships. In his first two years in this company, he gained 36 new corporate clients, raising the company’s assets by 10%”. In the control condition, nothing was said about Max Castle’s achievements or education. He was depicted as a normal leader, who became director in v irtue of his seniority. 2.2. Measures Manipulation check. After participants had read the scenarios, which took them on average three minutes, the first question asked: Do you think Max Castle exceeds normal standards of competence and sk ills? Admiration. Drawing on[24], ad miration’s peculiar affective reactions were measured by three items: Admiration, Respect, and Inspired. Responses were given on Likert scales ranging fro m 0 to 7 and were summed to form an overall scale (α=.73). With the same scale we also measured admiration’s typical physical sensations (Energy, Increased Heart Rate, and Chills; α=.69) and action tendencies (Know Max Castle, Work with Max Castle, Be like Max Castle α=.74). State Goal Orientations. VandeWalle’s 12 items[44,55] were adapted to measure state-Learn ing GO (4 items, α=.84), state-Proving-Performance GO (4 items, α=.74), and state-Avoiding-Performance GO (4 items, α=.76). Participants were asked to think about the present time and report how well each of the 12 items describes their current state with regards to their own job. 2.3. Results Descriptive statistics and intercorrelations among study variables are presented in Table 1. To test our hypotheses, we estimated three ordinary least squares regression models with one independent variable (experimental group: 0=control, 1=high skill leader), three mediators (Ad miration feelings, physical sensations and action tendencies) and one dependent variable for each model (state-learning, state-proving and state-avoiding goal orientations). Table 1. St udy 1. Descript ive st at ist ics and intercorrelat ions of st udy variables 1 State Learning GO 2 State Proving GO 3 State Avoiding GO 4 Admiration - Emotion 5 Admiration – Physical Sensations 6 Admiration – Affective reactions Mean (SD) 6.30 (.96) 5.40 (1.32) 1.60 (1.45) 4.96 (1.53) 2.24 (1.56) 4.55 (1.85) 1 .49*** -.06 .33*** .16 .28** 2 3 4 -.15 .36*** .09 .25** .17* .50*** .27** .15 .65*** 5 .41*** Note: * p<.05; ** p<.01; ***p<.001 46 Elisa M aria Galliani et al.: The Emotion of Admiration Improves Employees’ Goal Orientations and Contextual Performance Table 2. Standardized regression weights and model R2s IV (leader’s skills)  MVs IV  MVs  LGO IV  MVs  PPGO IV  MVs  APGO Indirect effectsof IV (skill) on DVs through MVs Feelings Physical sensations Action tendencies 3.35** 2.54* 1.53 1.83° -.13 1.41 1.85° .55 .19 .34 1.05 .84 Direct effects of IV(skill) on DVs (State GOs) -2.36* -2.54* -1.64* °p<.10; *p<.05; **p<.01; ***p<.001 R2 (Total) .13*** .16*** .06° Table 3. Study 1. Bootstrap estimates and bias-corrected 95% confidence intervals of the indirect effects LGO PP GO AP GO Feelings Est imates 95% BC CI (Lo-Up) .35 -.02-1.05 .78 .02-1.98 .11 -.59-.85 Indirect effects Physical sensations Action tendencies Est imates 95% BC CI (Lo-Up) Est imates 95% BC CI (Lo-Up) -.01 -.32-.27 .11 -.03-.46 .16 -.32-.85 .20 -.04-.95 .23 -.13-.92 .11 -.09-.60 Tot al Est imates 95% BC CI (Lo-Up) .45 .13-1.19 1.14 .34-2.24 .44 -.06-1.13 Notes: bootstrap estimates are based on 5000 samples; significant effects are shown in bold; all effects were tested in the same model Furthermore, we co mputed bias-corrected confidence intervals (95% BC CI) of the indirect (mediated) effects[56]. The direct effects of leader’s skill on the emotion of ad miration and on its peculiar physical sensations are high and significant (see Table 2). Our manipulation had no effect on admiration’s action tendencies. Interestingly, the total e ffect of leader’s skill on state goal orientations is always close to zero (R2LGO=.013, p =.18; R2PPGO=.014, p=.17; R2APGO=.018, p=.12), but the deco mposition of this effect h ighlights that the direct effect of leader’s skill on learn ing and proving GOs is strong and negative, whereas the indirect co mponent of the total effect on learning and prov ing GOs is strong and positive (see Table 3). Taking a closer look at standardized regression coefficients (Table 2) we can see that the impact of admiration on learning and proving GO is main ly due to its peculiar feelings (βL=1.83, βP=1.85, p<.10), rather than to its typical physical sensations (β<1.05, n.s.) or action tendencies (β<1.41, n.s.). 2.4. Discussion This study provided empirical support to our predictions that leader competence elicits both feelings and physical sensations of admiration in followers (H1), that the feeling of admiration for a co mpetent leader increases followers’ state -Learning GO and state-Proving-Performance GO (H2) and that admirat ion med iates the effects of leader perceived competence on followers’ state learning and proving GO. Interestingly, the decomposition of direct and indirect effects highlighted that the direct effect of leader skill on learning and proving GOs is negative, whereas the indirect (mediated) effect is positive. In other words, leader’s skill has a positive effect on fo llowers’ motivation to prove and improve their job performance if and only if ad miration is felt for the leader. Importantly, we found that the mediation effect of ad miration’s feelings was stronger than those of physical sensations and action tendencies. Study 2 will investigate the incremental validity of ad mi- ration in a natural wo rkp lace, measuring the levels of this emotion elicited in employees by their actual leaders. Its impact on state-GOs and contextual performance will be compared to those of two other positive emotions: happiness and gratitude. 3. Study 2 Happiness is undoubtedly the most studied discrete positive emotion in the organizational literature. It has been shown that it improves workers’ productivity[57] and evidence has also been provided that income[58,60], organizational cit izenship[60] and prosocial behavior(61) are positively affected by happiness. A close test of the incremental validity of ad miration at work would be given by a direct comparison with an emotion belonging to the same family, whose role in o rganizat ions has already been studied. “Gratitude prototypically stems fro m the perception of a positive personal outcome, not necessarily deserved or earned, that is due to the actions of another person”([62], p.5). The typical action tendency associated with gratitude is to reciprocate the benefactor in the future[63], but its impact e xtends to prosocial behaviors[64]. Algoe and Haidt[24] demonstrated that admiration produces different action tendencies in comparison to both happiness and gratitude. Three categories of motivational consequences were isolated: Positive social relat ionships (including enhancement, acknowledgement, reciprocation, and affiliat ion), emu lation (including prosocial behavior and self-imp rovement), and expend energy. Enhancement, emu lation and self-imp rovement help differentiate ad miration fro m both happiness and gratitude, while expending energy further differentiates it fro m gratitude. Emulat ion, self-imp rovement, and expend energy are closely related to individual’s motivation to imp rove their ability, as well as to strengthen the relation with the ro le models by proving their own competence. We therefore expect that the effects of International Journal of Applied Psychology 2012, 2(4): 43-52 47 admiration on state Goal Orientations will be stronger than those of happiness and gratitude. Hypothesis 4. Admiration predicts state-Learn ing and state-Proving-Performance GOs over and above happiness and gratitude. Admiration primarily differs fro m happiness because it is a social[65-67] other-directed[21] emot ion which gives rise to specific act ion tendencies that are social in nature as well. On the other hand, both admiration and gratitude are social, other-directed emotions, but gratitude main ly gives rise to reciprocity intentions, while the motivational effects of admiration easily extend to groups and social systems. Within organizations, the desire to improve, achieve goals, and strengthen social relationships elicited by admiration could easily extend to colleagues, supervisors and collaborators. Indeed, when individuals are moved by inspiring role models they will be motivated to emulate them. If ad miration is elicited by leaders who demonstrate a great co mpetence in performing their job, then it will influence the amount of effort, care, and commit ment employees decide to invest in the general functioning of their organization. Hence, we hypothesize that the effects of ad miration in work contexts will directly a ffect contextual performance. Contextual performance refers to the construct of Organizational Cit izenship Behavior (OCB), and concerns any discretionary “contribution to the maintenance and enhancement of the social and psychological context that supports task performance”([68], p. 91). The three most widely accepted and studied components of OCB are altruism, courtesy, and compliance. Altru ism concerns helping colleagues or others in order to solve or prevent problems; courtesy refers to behaviors aiming at avoiding or preventing problems for co lleagues or others; compliance is concerned with working beyond organizat ional expectations[69]. We expect that admiration will impact alt ruis m, courtesy, and compliance over and above happiness and gratitude. Hypothesis 5. Admiration predicts OCB over and above happiness and gratitude. 3.1. Participants, design and materi als Participants were 146 full-t ime school and pre-school teachers (6 men) who participated in the study for no reward. Their mean age was 44.45 (S D=9.1), and they had been in service, on average, for 19.63 years before their participation in the study (SD=9.8). Three well-trained interviewers provided them with a brief introduction to the study and a paper-and-pencil questionnaire. All responses were collected by means of Likert scales ranging fro m 1 to 6. The first part of the questionnaire measured independent variables. Participants were asked to think back over the last year and to rate how frequently, in their working days, they felt happiness, gratitude, and admiration for their school principal. Lastly, participants were asked to think back over the last year and rate how frequently they were driven in their job by Learn ing GO, Proving-Performance GO, Avoiding-Performance GO, and how frequently they adopted a series of behaviors relating to alt ruis m, courtesy, and compliance. 3.2. Measures Admiration. The on-line measure of ad miration used in the previous study was converted in a retrospective measure. The items were the same, but the frequency rather than the intensity of the emotion felt was asked. Happiness. 5 items were used from the PANAS-X[70] to measure happiness. Gratitude. The 2-item version of the Gratitude Adjective Checklist[71] was emp loyed. State-Goal Orientations. Learning GO, Proving-Performance GO, and Avoiding-Performance GO were measured with the same items used in study 1. OCB. Altruis m was measured with 3 items developed in[72], courtesy with 3 items developed in[73], and co mpliance with 3 items fro m[74]. 3.3. Results As can be seen in Table 4, the correlat ions between admiration and happiness (r=.30) and between ad miration and gratitude (r=.42), are lo wer than the correlation between happiness and gratitude (r=.58; .21<Δz’<.35; p<.05). This result confirms previous evidences that admiration is different and relatively independent fro m other positive emotio n s [24] . Table 4. Study 2. Descriptive statistics, intercorrelations and reliabilities of study variables Mean SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 Happiness 4.02 .96 .86 2 Gra titu de 3.74 1.28 .58 .85 3 Admiration 2.87 .99 .30 .43 .75 4 State LGO 4.25 .94 .25 .24 .28 .84 5 State PPGO 2.60 1.12 .31 .21 .19 .37 .88 6 State APGO 2.67 1.1 .02 -.06 .08 -.29 .38 .80 7 Altruism 4.50 .97 .22 .22 .29 .41 .14 -.14 .84 8 Cou rtesy 4.73 1.06 .22 .20 .37 .36 .16 -.08 .61 .76 9 Com plian ce 4.55 .96 .20 .20 .21 .53 .27 -.20 .61 .50 .81 Notes: The main diagonal provides Cronbach’s alphas; Pearson’s rs greater than .16 are significantly di fferent from zero (p<.05) 48 Elisa M aria Galliani et al.: The Emotion of Admiration Improves Employees’ Goal Orientations and Contextual Performance Table 5. Study 2. Standardized regression coefficients of the path-analysis LGO PPGO APGO Altruism Cou rtesy Com plian ce Happiness .14 .28 .07 .11 .11 .12 G ra titu de .07 .00 -.16 .06 -.01 .05 Admiration R2(p) .20 .11 (.043) .09 .11 (.043) .13 .02 (.19) .22 .10 (.049) .33 .14 (.031) .17 .07 (.07) Notes: Significant paramet ers (p<.05) are provided in bold; The F-test was applied for H0: R2=0; The model is saturated, therefo re it perfectly fits the data. Pre dictors whose paths we re fixe d at ze ro M0 (Saturated model) M1 Grat it ude M2 Happiness M3 Adm iration M4 Admiration and Happiness M5 Admiration and Gratitude M6 Happiness and Grat it ude χ2 (df) 0 (0) 3.0 (6) 9.3 (6) 21.8 (6) 32.5 (12) Table 6. Study 2. Nested model comparisons p Changes in R2 (% of variance accounted for by the pre dictor/s whose paths were fixe d) LGO PP GO AP GO Altruism Co urt esy Compliance Sum across crit eria n.a. .803 0 0 .01 0 0 0 .02 .158 .01 .05 0 .01 .01 .01 .09 .001 .03 .01 .01 .04 .09 .02 .20 .001 .05 .07 .02 .05 .10 .04 .33 25.5 (12) .008 .05 .01 .02 .05 .09 .03 .25 17.6 (12) .127 .03 .07 .01 .02 .01 .02 .17 To test our hypotheses, we estimated a saturated SEM for observed variables using positive emotions (happiness, gratitude and admirat ion) as predictors and our dependent variables (state-Learning GO, state-Proving-Performance GO, state-Avoiding-Performance GO, altru ism, courtesy, and compliance) as criteria. Altogether, the model included 3 independent variables and six dependent variables, hence we estimated 18 relationships. In contrast with a series of zero-o rder Pearson correlations, which might exp ress an undefined amount of redundant relations, in such a model each regression path represents the unique contribution of a predictor (or a moderator) to a dependent variable, controlling for measurement erro r and for all other relevant relations in the model, such as correlations between predictors. Standardized regression coefficients (Table 5) show that admiration significantly predicts LGO (γ =.20) and OCB (γ1 =.22; γ2=.33, γ3=.17). Our hypotheses can be accepted for all dependent variables except Proving-Performance GO, whose best predictor is happiness (γ=.28). This model was then compared to six other nested models in wh ich regression paths of the three different pred ictors (and those of their combinations) were sequentially fixed at zero. Results, which are provided in Table 6, show that the impact of happiness and gratitude on our criteria is not significantly different fro m zero. On the contrary, any time admiration paths are fixed at zero the model does not fit the data. Across criteria, the predict ive power of ad miration alone (R2=.20) is higher than the sum of the effects of happiness and gratitude on our outcome measures (R2=.17). 3.4. Discussion This study confirms the relat ionships between admirat ion and state goal orientations that have been found in study 1, and extends them to self-reported actual motivation and prosocial organizational behavior. Furthermo re, we directly tested the predictive power of ad miration against happiness and gratitude. While happiness is very different fro m ad miration both in terms of elicitors, feelings, and consequences, gratitude is much mo re similar. Ad miration and gratitude are both other-praising emot ions, but they are different in nature. Admiration is felt fo r the display of outstanding talents or achievements and pro motes social behavior and self-imp rovement. Gratitude is a response to a benefactor and motivates reciprocation. In this study, we observed that the motivational consequences of admiration and happiness are different. Ad miration motivates to improve one’s own skills in order to master the problem at hand, while happiness motivates people to prove their abilities. As far as self-reported actual prosocial behavior, ad miration is by large the best predictor of alt ruism, courtesy and compliance. Its effects on these prosocial organizational behaviors are much larger than those of happiness and gratitude. 4. Conclusions Individual skills, talents and achievements are the foundations of any organizational success. The results of our studies showed that skilled, talented and successful leaders elicit a specific and intense positive emotion in followers – admiration – which in turn motivates them to improve their own skills and to perform better. Admirat ion was observed to directly impact emp loyees’ organizat ional citizenship behavior (OCB), and to mediate the positive influence of leaders’ perceived co mpetence on followers’ state-goal orientation in achievement situations. The motivational and behavioral effects of ad mirat ion in organizational settings International Journal of Applied Psychology 2012, 2(4): 43-52 49 were also compared to those of happiness and gratitude, with admiration being the strongest predictor of emp loyees’ state learning goal orientation and organizational citizenship behavior. Theoretical and practical implications An interesting question arises fro m our results. We found that the direct effect on mot ivation of the perception of leaders’ competence is negative. In other words, when no admiration is felt, a skilled leader has the detrimental effect of decreasing emp loyees’ motivation to prove and improve their performance. At this regard, it has been suggested that leaders are perceived as ro le models to who m emp loyees socially co mpare themselves[75], but the mot ivational consequences of these social comparisons can be surprising. For instance, Lockwood and Kunda[76] showed that outstanding models can both provoke self-enhancement and self-deflat ion, depending on the perceived attainability of their success and on the self-relevance of the domain in which the role model achieved their successes. In addition, the accessibility of one’s best selves – one’s highest hopes and achievements – was found to undermine the inspiration derived fro m an upward co mparison[77]. Also the emotional reactions to outstanding role models seem to vary as a function of both the attainability of the result and the perception of control in achieving it. Manipulating participants’ beliefs about self-improvements, Van de Ven, Zeelenberg, and Pieters[78] found that those who were primed with the idea that self-enhancement is easy fe lt more (benign) envy toward a fictitious outstanding model than those primed with the idea that self-enhancement is difficult. On the contrary, admiration was marg inally stronger when self-imp rovement was thought to be difficult. As the leader-follo wer relat ionship is concerned, it is very likely that the domain in which leaders achieve their successes is relevant for followers’ self-concepts. Instead, what can actually vary between followers is the subjective attainability of the success, as well as the perceived control over the possibility to achieve it. Our findings suggest a wider and deeper analysis of the cognitive and affective processes underlying the variety of motivational consequences of the social comparison that employees make with their leaders. In addit ion, it is our opinion that the individual moderators of the relat ionship between leader’s competence and followers’ mot ivation should be explo red. For examp le, people differ fro m each other in their dispositional tendency to compare with others[79], and the social comparison orientation was found to moderate the impact of role models on performance[80]. Similarly, the elicitor-emotion and the emotion-motivation relationships might be moderated by many individual and situational variables. Individuals might differentiate one another for the intensity at which they feel envy and admiration in response to the same situation. At the same time, other moderators might influence the relationship between admiration and state GOs. For example, it is reasonable to hypothesize that individuals respectively high in trait-Proving-Perfo rmance or trait-Learn ing-Performance GO will react d ifferently to upward social co mparisons, because these two individuals make a very different use of self- and external-referent feedbacks. Indeed, wh ile the latter use self-referent infor- mat ion to appraise and evaluate their progress toward valued goals (e.g., the perception of mastery), the former makes a larger use of external-referent information such as feedbacks fro m their boss[81], wh ich are perceived to be likely nega- tive if the boss is very skilled. This reasoning might also explain why we in the second study we did not observe a relatio n s h ip between admiration and state-Proving-Performance GO: It might be very hard to prove others that we are good at something when they are much better than we are. A second important result concerns the theory of ad miration itself. Admiration, measured in actual work settings, was shown to outperform both happi- ness and gratitude in fostering not only the individual moti- vation to improve job performance, but also some important organizational c itizenship behaviors. This result is very clear if we think that admirat ion is a social emotion, whose mo- tivational consequences typically extend to the social context. Current results provide evidence that in organizat ional set- tings admiration produces two main behavioral effects: Self-improvement and prosocial behavior[24]. This finding demonstrates the necessity of carefully considering admira- tion and positive other-directed emotions in order to exp lain and promote virtuous organizational behavior. In addition, our results offer an original contribution to the flourishing research literature regard ing leadership and positive emotions. They support and extend findings of[82], providing evidence that leaders influence followers’ emo- tions by their acts and behaviors, and not only by the conta- gion of their own affect. Co mpetent leaders are role models who inspire their followers. The motivational state of inspi- ration originates fro m ad mirat ion, which therefore represents the emotional lin k between leaders’ skills and followers’ achievements. A lin k that is even more impo rtant because the direct effect of leaders’ skill on employees motivation is indeed negative. When no admirat ion is felt, the more a leader is skilled, the less emp loyees are motivated to prove and improve their job performance. Finally, this paper contributes to the debate regarding the influence of leaders on followers’ goal orientation. This ef- fect has already been theorized, but has never been actually tested. Dragoni[83] hypothesized that a leader’s achievement pattern orientation shapes followers’ state-GO through the med iation of team climate. Specifically, the author argues that when leaders display an ability-oriented achievement pattern orientation, followers feel encouraged to develop their proving goal orientation. We found that the leader’s display of competence increases both proving and improving goals. These effects can be explained by the med iation of admiration, whose peculiar motivational consequences are emu lation, self-imp rovement, and achievement. Any time individuals feel ad miration, both their improving and prov- ing goals are likely to increase, as the emotional response to the perception of outstanding talents cause them to emulate the admired role model. Limits and directions for future research 50 Elisa M aria Galliani et al.: The Emotion of Admiration Improves Employees’ Goal Orientations and Contextual Performance As regards methodological limitat ions, the risk of a common-source bias might have affected some results of our studies, so we recommend that future research extends these initial findings by using multiple sources of data (e.g. using supervisor’s evaluations as a measure of leader competence). However, study 2 is much less exposed to such a bias because if we assume that a co mmon source biased our data, we also have to assume that it equally b iased all the relat ionships among our variables (typically inflating them). Hence, a direct co mparison such as one that investigates incremental validity (based on differences between strengths of associations) would not have been affected. Also, the two samples are heavily unbalanced in terms of gender. This limits the generalization of our results to a more balanced sample and prevented us to investigate whether gender moderates the relationships we identified in this article. Both the mediators and moderators of the relationship between leaders’ perceived competence and followers’ motivation deserve more research. One clear limit of these studies is that we did not consider competing emot ional med iators such as envy, which has recently been found to be more related to task performance than admiration[78]. Envy might exp lain the detrimental effect of leader’s perceived competence on followers’ motivation. Envy is an unpleasant emotion characterized by feelings of inferiority, hostility and resentment that can arise when we co mpare unfavorably with others[84]. A wide variety of personal and contextual variables probably interact in determin ing whether a positive – admiration – or a negative – envy – emotion is triggered by the perception of an outstanding leader. 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