Ethical Leadership and Follower Helping and Courtesy: Moral Awareness and Empathic Concern as Moderators

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Abstract

This study uses a multi-level approach to examine the moderating influence of two aspects of the ethical context on the relationship between ethical leadership and follower helping and courtesy. Using multi-source data from a field sample of leaders and followers and controlling for transformational leadership, we found that shared perceptions of moral awareness and empathic concern of the work group moderated the relationship between ethical leadership and follower helping and courtesy. Relationships between individual and group-level perceptions of ethical leadership and these two follower behaviors were positive when moral awareness was low, whereas these relationships weakened when moral awareness was higher. The relationship between individual and group perceptions of ethical leadership and courtesy was positive when empathic concern was high, whereas this relationship weakened when empathic concern was lower. Thus, although ethical leadership relates positively to follower helping and courtesy, the strength of this relationship differs depending on the level of empathic concern and moral awareness in the work group.

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