Type of Content: Research

Subtype: Journal Article

Resource Title: Getting Old at the Top: The Role of Agentic and Communal Orientations in the Relationship Between Age and Follower Perceptions of Leadership Behaviors and Outcomes

Publication Title: Work, Aging and Retirement 6(1), 46-58

Publish Date: January 2020

Leadership behaviors and the outcomes they foster have historically been central issues to organizational researchers and practitioners alike. Despite the continuing rise in the average age of the workforce, empirical research on leadership from a lifespan development perspective remains surprisingly rare. The current study applies socioemotional selectivity theory (SST) to address this gap in the literature in several ways. We test a holistic socioemotional model of age and leadership that examines dominance and amicability as agentic and communal mediators in the relationship between age and follower ratings of leadership behaviors and effectiveness. To accomplish this goal, we apply multisource data from a sample of 422 leaders with 2,016 follower ratings. We offer empirical support for a socioemotional model of age and leadership that highlights the role of communal shifts in the relationship between age and follower perceptions of leadership behaviors. Specifically, we find a positive mediating effect of amicability in the relationship between age and follower-rated relational-oriented leadership behaviors. Age also displayed a sequential mediating effect on effectiveness through amicability and relational-oriented leadership behaviors. Our results highlight the unique role that age-related changes in social orientations play in the perceptions of leadership behaviors and outcomes across the lifespan. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Getting Old at the Top: The Role of Agentic and Communal Orientations in the Relationship Between Age and Follower Perceptions of Leadership Behaviors and Outcomes