Is a happy leader a good leader? A meta-analytic investigation of leader trait affect and leadership

Dana L. Joseph, Lindsay Y. Dhanani, Winny Shen, Bridget C. McHugh, Mallory A. McCord

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Organizational scholars have long been concerned with identifying traits that differentiate effective leaders from ineffective leaders. Although there has been renewed interest in the role of emotions in leadership, there is currently no quantitative summary of leader trait affectivity and leadership. Thus, the current paper meta-analyzed the relationship between leader trait affectivity and several leadership criteria, including transformational leadership, transactional leadership, leadership emergence, and leadership effectiveness. Results show that leader positive affect is positively related to leadership criteria, whereas leader negative affect is negatively related to leadership criteria, and regression analyses indicate that leader trait affect predicts leadership criteria above and beyond leader extraversion and neuroticism. Additionally, mediational analyses reveal that the relationship between leader trait affect and leadership effectiveness operates through transformational leadership. Taken together, these results contribute to the literature on emotions and leadership by highlighting the role of leader affect as a meaningful predictor of leadership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)557-576
Number of pages20
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • Leadership
  • Meta-analysis
  • Negative affect
  • Positive affect
  • Transformational leadership


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