Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Eric Sundstrom

Committee Members

John Lounsbury, Robert T. Ladd, Jacob Levy


Prior research found that the quality of the working relationships between leaders and their followers, or Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) quality in leader-member dyads, predicts positive work outcomes for followers, including job satisfaction, engagement, and performance. Though leaders might be expected to receive similar benefits from high quality LMX with their followers, almost no published, empirical research to-date has reported benefits of LMX for leaders. The current study tested the relationships of LMX and positive work outcomes for leaders among middle managers and their direct supervisees in a large manufacturing company. Hypotheses predicted that average leader-rated LMX and average follower-rated LMX would positively correlate with three beneficial outcomes for leaders: job satisfaction, engagement, and their own performance as rated by their supervisors, while leader-follower deviance on ratings of LMX would negatively correlate with these three variables. The study used an archival dataset that included questionnaire-based measures of LMX quality and the three work outcomes among 25 middle managers and 84 of their supervisees. The supervisors of the 25 managers (17 senior managers) also provided ratings of the managers’ individual performance. All measures were collected the same week; all had good reliability (coefficient alpha ≥0.80). Contrary to hypotheses, leader outcomes were unrelated to average leader-rated LMX or average follower-rated LMX. In the only significant finding involving leader outcomes, leader-follower LMX deviance correlated positively with leader engagement (r =.42 – opposite the hypothesis.) Leaders’ LMX ratings were also unexpectedly lower than their followers’ ratings of LMX, so leaders’ engagement trended higher the further their followers’ perceptions of the quality of their relationships exceeded the leaders’ own perceptions of LMX. Implications for theory, research, and application of LMX are discussed.

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