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LEADER-MEMBER EXCHANGE THEORY

Instructor’s Overview

Leadership is one of the primary areas of study, research, and practice in I-O psychology. This module includes information on Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) theory. Leaders develop relationships with each member of the group they lead. LMX theory explains how the relationships with various members can develop in very different ways.

The materials include overheads to guide a 20-25 minute lecture and materials for two exercises. One of the two exercises may be selected. Each exercise requires 10 minutes to complete. You may want to allot more time depending on the size of your class and the amount of discussion generated. Combined with the intro lecture, this module will fill a 50-minute class and leave 5 minutes for class discussion and debriefing.

  

Perspective-Taking Exercises

The two exercises are intended to achieve the same purpose of giving students some practice seeing things from someone else’s perspective. The key points of the lecture will be illustrated best by doing one of the two and not both exercises. Simply choose the exercise you prefer.

 

Exercise I

Instructions to facilitator. The purpose of this task is to provide an exercise in perspective-taking. Perspective-taking may be useful to consider when thinking about in-group vs. out-group processes and the variables that influence those processes. This task is similar to a game of "Pictionary." The students are to work in pairs. Each student is to be given a card with a word on it. (Sample words might include: filling, dust, blotch, vision, studying, and psychology student). Students will take turns drawing a picture in an attempt to prompt their partners to say the word on their card.

Once the drawing task is completed, each student is to complete the perspective-taking scale included in this packet. This scale is part of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index by Davis (1980) to assess aspects of empathy. Davis found that females score significantly higher on the perspective-taking scale than males. The mean score for females was 17.96 and the mean score for males was 16.78 (Davis, 1980). Therefore, as a rough scoring scheme for your students, we have designated males who score 17 or higher as above average and those who score 16 or lower as below average on perspective-taking. For females, we have designated a score of 18 or higher as above average and 17 or below as below average on perspective-taking.

After scoring the perspective-taking scale, the students are to complete the discussion questions. They are to note whether they drew toward themselves or toward their partners. In other words, did they draw so that the picture was right-side-up for them, for their partners, or in between? The focus of the game is on perspective taking, not on how well the students drew or how quickly they got their partners to guess the correct word.

 

Instructions to participants. This task will be similar to a game of Pictionary. You have each been given a card with a word on it. First, one of you will draw in order to get your partner to say the word on your card. Then, your partner will draw for you. It makes no difference who goes first and who goes second. You are to draw anything you wish to draw in order to get your partner to say the word on your card. There are several rules:

1) While drawing, you may not speak to your partner or use hand gestures to communicate with your partner.

2) You may not use numbers, letters, or the number sign (#) in your drawings.

3) You may not write any part of the word, even if your partner has said a part of the word.

4) Your partner must say the word EXACTLY as it appears on the card.

5) You will have one minute in which to draw and for your partner to guess.

Good Luck!!

 

Perspective Taking Scale

The following statements inquire about your thoughts and feelings in a variety of situations. In the space before each item, indicate how well it describes you by choosing the appropriate number on the scale at the top of the page. READ EACH ITEM CAREFULLY BEFORE RESPONDING. Answer as honestly as you can. Thank you.

 

1 2 3 4 5
Does NOT Describe Me Well       Describes Me Well

 

______ 1. Before criticizing somebody, I try to imagine how I would feel if I were in his/her place.

______ 2. If I’m sure I’m right about something, I don’t waste much time listening to other people’s arguments.

______ 3. I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective.

______ 4. I believe that there are two sides to every question and try to look at them both.

______ 5. I sometimes find it difficult to see things from the "other guy’s" point of view.

______ 6. I try to look at everybody’s side of a disagreement before I

make a decision.

______ 7. When I’m upset at someone, I usually try to "put myself in his shoes" for a while.

 

Perspective-Taking Exercise II

Instructions to facilitator. The purpose of this task is to provide an exercise in perspective-taking. Perspective-taking may be useful to consider when thinking about in-group versus out-group processes and the variables that influence those processes. The students should work in pairs. They are to place the design on the table between them. Then, they should look at the design and try to take their partner’s perspective. In other words, they should try to imagine how the design would look to them if they were sitting in their partner’s chair. Next, they should draw the design, as precisely as possible, as their partner is seeing it. While drawing, they may not move from their chairs in order to see the drawing from a different location. Also, they may not touch or move the design in any way.

Once the drawing task is completed, each student is to complete the perspective-taking scale included in this packet. This scale is part of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index by Davis (1980) to assess aspects of empathy. Davis found that females score significantly higher on the perspective-taking scale than males. The mean score for females was 17.96 and the mean score for males was 16.78 (Davis, 1980). Therefore, as a rough scoring scheme for your students, we have designated males who score 17 or higher as above average and those who score 16 or lower as below average on perspective-taking. For females, we have designated a score of 18 or higher as above average and 17 or below as below average on perspective-taking.

After scoring the perspective-taking scale, the students are to complete the discussion questions.

 

Instructions to participants. Face your partner and place the design on the table between you. Looking at the design, try to take your partner’s perspective. In other words, try to imagine how the design would look to you if you were sitting in your partner’s chair. Now draw the design, as precisely as possible, as your partner is seeing it. While drawing, you may not move from your chair in order to see the drawing from a different location. Also, you may not touch or move the design in any way.

Good Luck!!

 

Figure for Perspective-Taking Exercise II

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Leader Member Exchange References

Davis, M. H., Luce, C., & Kraus, S. J. (1994). The heritability of

characteristics associated with dispositional empathy. Journal of Personality, 62(3), 369-391.

Dienesch, R. M., & Liden, R. C. (1986). Leader-member exchange model of leadership: A critique and further development. Academy of Management Review, 11, 618-634.

Fairhurst, G. T. (1993). Leader-member exchange patterns of women leaders in industry: A discourse analysis. Communication Monographs, 60, 321-351.

Graen, G., & Cashman, J. F. (1975). A role-making model of leadership in formal organizations: A developmental approach. In J. G. Hunt & L. L. Larson (Eds.), Leadership frontiers (pp. 143-165). Kent, OH: Kent State University Press.

Graen, G. B., & Uhl-Bien, M. (1995). Relationship-based approach to leadership: Development of leader-member exchange (LMX) theory of leadership over 25 years: Applying a multi-level multi-domain perspective: Special Issue: Leadership: The multiple-level approaches (Part 1). Leadership Quarterly, 6, 219-247.


Suggested Videocassette

Discovering Psychology: Sex and Gender (Annenberg/CPB Project)

This video covers how our gender affects how we will be treated and explores the different biological, psychological, and social environments of males and females.

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