The effect of leniency on leader behavior descriptions

Chester A. Schriesheim, Angelo J. Kinicki, Janet F. Schriesheim

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53 Scopus citations


This article reports the results from five studies designed to estimate the magnitude and effects of leniency on subordinate-provided descriptions of leader Consideration and Initiating Structure. Using a newly developed scale to measure leniency response bias (the tendency to describe others in favorable but probably untrue terms), the results of the studies indicate that subordinate reports of leader Initiating Structure are not particularly susceptible to the effects of leniency. The results for Consideration, however, showed that: (1) consideration items were not socially neutral and were susceptible to leniency; (2) consideration reflected an underlying leniency factor when applied in a field setting; (3) leniency explained a substantial proportion of the variation involved in Consideration-dependent variable correlations; and (4) this did not appear to result from conceptual overlap between Consideration and leniency, but rather from spurious correlation through the susceptibility of the measures to the effects of leniency. The importance of these findings for leadership research are discussed, and several alternatives for the control of leniency in leader behavior description are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Performance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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