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Leader assertiveness, humbleness, and perceived effectiveness: the role of leader gender and gender-

stereotypical beliefs

Amsterdam Business School

MSc. Business Administration - Leadership and Management Track Project: Leadership Traits

Master Thesis Final Version

“The relationship between humbleness, assertiveness, and leaders perceived effectiveness; unraveling the moderating effect of leader gender and

gender-stereotypical beliefs.”

24th of June 2022

Céline de Brouwer 13642278

Supervisor: Dr. Annebel de Hoogh

Second Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Deanne den Hartog

EBEC: 20220322100315

Word count: 11590 words

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Statement of Originality

This document is written by Student Céline de Brouwer who declares to take full responsibility for the contents of this document.

I declare that the text and the work presented in this document is original and that no sources other than those mentioned in the text and its references have been used in creating it.

The Faculty of Economics and Business is responsible solely for the supervision of completion of the work, not for the contents.

Signature:

Céline de Brouwer

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Table of Content

1 Introduction ... 7

2 Theoretical Framework ... 10

2.1 Leader Humbleness ... 10

2.2 Leader Assertiveness ... 12

2.3 Perceived effectiveness of the leader ... 13

2.5 Gender of the leader and perceived effectiveness of the leader ... 15

2.6 Gender of the leader, humbleness, and perceived effectiveness of the leader ... 16

2.7 Gender of the leader, assertiveness, and perceived effectiveness of the leader ... 18

2.8 Gender stereotypical beliefs ... 19

3 Research Method ... 22

3.1 Procedure ... 22

3.2 Sample ... 23

3.3 Measurements ... 24

3.4 Analytical procedure ... 26

4 Results ... 27

4.1 Descriptive statistics ... 28

4.2 Hypotheses testing ... 30

4.2.1 Hypothesis 1 ... 30

4.2.2 Hypothesis 2 ... 30

4.2.3 Hypothesis 3 ... 31

4.2.4 Hypothesis 4 ... 31

4.2.5 Hypothesis 5 and 6 ... 32

4.2.6 Hypothesis 7 ... 33

5 Discussion ... 33

5.1 Discussion of results ... 33

5.2 Theoretical implications ... 37

5.3 Practical implications ... 38

5.4 Limitations and directions for future research ... 39

6 Conclusion ... 42

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List of References ... 43

Appendices ... 55

Appendix 1 – Measures ... 55

1.1 Leader Assertiveness ... 55

1.2 Leader Humbleness ... 56

1.3 Perceived Leader Effectiveness ... 58

1.4 Gender stereotypical beliefs ... 58

Appendix 2 – Invitation e-mail ... 60

Appendix 3 – Reliability Cronbach’s Alpha ... 61

3.1 Leader Assertiveness Scale ... 61

3.2 Leader Humbleness Scale ... 62

3.3 Gender Stereotypical Beliefs Scale ... 63

3.4 Perceived Leader Effectiveness Scale ... 64

3.5 Outlier Z-scores ... 65

3.6 Normal distribution ... 65

3.7 Normal P-Plot of regression ... 66

List of Tables and Figures

Figure 1 Conceptual Framework ………10

Table 1 Descriptive statistics and correlations ………...29

Table 2 Regression model………..………...30

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Acknowledgements

First and foremost, I would like to thank Dr. Annebel de Hoogh for her ongoing support and feedback during the process of writing my Master Thesis. Dr. de Hoogh specifically helped me with her knowledge, and valuable input, and provided me with important insights. The constructive feedback helped me perfect my thesis to the final deliverable.

Additionally, I would like to express my gratitude to Prof. Dr. Deanne den Hartog for her advice and expertise in the group meetings when discussing our leader traits project. Her knowledge really helped me in the initial phase of my Master Thesis writing.

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Abstract

Leader assertiveness and leader humbleness are related to the perceived effectiveness of the leader. The gender of the leader and gender-stereotypical beliefs also play a role in how a leader is perceived by followers. Therefore, it is imperative to explore and study the components that are related to perceived leadership effectiveness moderated by the gender of the leader and gender-stereotypical beliefs of the follower. It is expected that leader humbleness and leader assertiveness are related to the perceived effectiveness of the leader. Besides, it is hypothesized that the gender of the leader and gender stereotyping by the follower moderates this relationship. A questionnaire was distributed amongst leaders and followers and 145 complete leader-follower dyads were collected to test for the formed hypotheses. The results did not support the expectations. However, it is recommended for future research to focus on the potential relationship between humbleness and assertiveness and to replicate the study with a larger sample size.

Keywords: Gender, Humbleness, Assertiveness, Perceived effectiveness leader, Gender- stereotypical beliefs, Moderation

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1 Introduction

Leader humbleness and assertiveness are often perceived as opposite leader traits, much like the difference between Gandhi and Trump. A humble leader is described as a leader who appreciates others and has a willingness to see oneself as accurately (Owens et al., 2013). As an example, a humble leader will show more appreciation and make more compliments to followers (Qin et al., 2020). Besides, humble leaders are very much interested in receiving feedback from their followers. Another trait that is related to the perceived effectiveness of the leader is assertiveness (Yang et al., 2020). The assertiveness of a leader is defined as “a dimension describing people’s tendency to speak up for, defend, and act in the interest of themselves and their values, preferences, and goals” (Ames & Flynn, 2007,p.2). For example, an assertive leader will do everything in his or her power to reach a goal. Thus, both humbleness and assertiveness are considered important for leader effectiveness.

Recent research shows that humbleness is related to the perceived effectiveness of the leader. A humble leader can be described as someone that is self-aware and very much open to new ideas (Morris et al., 2005). Leader effectiveness can be described as influencing and mobilizing followers in the appropriate direction (Yukl et al., 2019). Humble leaders are indeed seen as more effective, as they contribute to the firm’s performance by demonstrating humbleness (Ou et al., 2018). This can be explained through the positive association of humbleness as employees perceive humble leaders as being more positive and therefore more effective. People are more likely to share information and seek opinions from people that are similar to them which will eventually help with the idea sharing of followers (Ou et al., 2014).

Consequently, the sharing of ideas relates positively to a perceived environment where employees feel empowered, which in turn can be linked to higher motivation of employees as well as a higher commitment to their jobs which creates a better performance of the company.

However, does the influence of leader humbleness and assertiveness on perceived leadership effectiveness hold for both male and female leaders? This question emphasizes the

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importance of gender beliefs and how these beliefs play an important role with regard to leaders’ traits. Assertiveness is an agentic trait, while humbleness is considered a communal trait (Abele, 2003). Women are more often described with the use of communal characteristics, while men are more often linked to agentic characteristics (Madera et al., 2009). Communal characteristics are for instance warmth, honesty, trustworthiness, sympathy, and being kind (Berkery et al., 2013). Agentic traits are for instance assertiveness, confidence, energy, and persistency (Berkery et al., 2013).

We know that agentic and communal traits are judged differently when these traits are shown by males or females. This partly depends on gender stereotypes or what is socially expected and accepted sex-role behavior (Madera et al., 2009). Generally, agentic traits are assessed more negatively for female leaders, while communal traits are praised for male leaders and promote more cooperation amongst employees (Gartzia & van Knippenberg, 2016).

Gender stereotypes can be explained as general expectations people have about people from a specific social group, in this case, males and females (Ellemers, 2018).

Research shows that the relationship between assertiveness and perceived leader effectiveness is less strong for female leaders (Mathison, 1986). After all, as assertiveness is an agentic trait this characteristic does not link with the stereotype of a woman, in social contexts women are not expected to show assertiveness (Amanatullah & Morris, 2010). Humbleness on the other hand is a communal trait which in turn shows a weaker relationship with leader effectiveness for male leaders (Chiu & Owens, 2013). Men are stereotypically expected to be confident and agentic which is the opposite of humbleness and since this does not match with their gender stereotype they will be perceived as less effective leaders (Zapata & Hayes-Jones, 2019). The relationship between leader assertiveness and leader humbleness with leader perceived effectiveness is likely dependent on the gender of the leader in combination with the gender expectations of the subordinates. For example, if a leader is a female, followers' stereotypical beliefs will expect this leader to show mainly communal traits (D. Ames, 2009).

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Thus, if a leader demonstrates counter-stereotypical behavior, this leader can be perceived as less effective by the subordinates (Sen, 2019). Therefore, I expect a mediated moderation effect of the gender of the leader on the relations between humbleness and assertiveness with the perceived effectiveness of the leader which can be explained through the gender-stereotypical beliefs of the follower.

If indeed leader gender and gender-stereotypical beliefs of the follower are of influence on this relationship, leaders should keep this in mind when deciding on their leadership style and behavior. This gap addresses an important part of the puzzle of how gender plays a role in different leadership traits through exploring the effects of humbleness and assertiveness. Thus, the goal of this paper is to see how the gender of the leader is of influence on the relationship between leader humbleness, assertiveness, and the perceived effectiveness of the leader.

Therefore, this thesis will examine if the relation of humbleness and assertiveness on the perceived effectiveness of the leader is stronger for male leaders compared to female leaders and whether this moderating effect is explained by employees’ gender-stereotypical beliefs. See Figure 1 for the conceptual framework.

This research contributes to theory because there is a clear research gap with regards to the influence of gender stereotypical beliefs of followers and the gender of the leader in literature. If scholars know how these variables are of influence on the relationship between humbleness, assertiveness, and perceived leadership effectiveness there could be plenty of further research opportunities on what leadership traits work best and are most effective for female leaders and which traits are best to use for male leaders.

In practice, this research will be helpful because if assertiveness and humbleness and their effects depend on gender-stereotypical beliefs of followers and the gender of the leader, leaders should take this into account when deciding on their best strategies on how to lead.

These strategies might be completely different for female leaders and male leaders.

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FIGURE 1: Conceptual Framework; The moderating effect of leader gender mediated by the moderating effect of gender stereotypical beliefs on the relationship of humbleness and assertiveness on the perceived effectiveness of the leader.

2 Theoretical Framework

2.1 Leader Humbleness

Humbleness in leaders is a popular topic in literature (Chancellor & Lyubomirsky, 2013;

Morris et al., 2005). Humbleness is described as “showing followers to grow by admitting what they do not know, modeling teachability, and acknowledging the unique skills, knowledge, and contributions of those around them” (Owens & Heckman, 2012, p.812). Nielson, Marrone, and Slay (2010) have argued that humbleness is about recognizing your own strengths and weaknesses and caring for others. Humbleness is the opposite of arrogance and pride and thus clearly the opposite of narcissism (Owens & Hekman, 2012). Humbleness can be related to several different behaviors such as accepting yourself and having a good self-esteem (Chancellor & Lyubomirsky, 2013). Humble people also recognize their strengths and

Gender of the leader

Humbleness of the leader

Assertiveness of the leader

Gender stereotypical-beliefs

Perceived effectiveness of leader + H1

+ H2

+ H3 +H4

+ H5

+ H6

+ H7

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weaknesses and perceive themselves clearly (Ali et al., 2020). In addition, humbleness also shows in being open to new ideas and having an open mind. They focus more on others and less on themselves and consider others as equally important. Possible other traits that can be linked to humbleness are modesty and agreeableness (Vera & Rodriguez-Lopez, 2004).

Modesty was strongly linked to humbleness and is also part of agreeableness which is another trait part of the Big 5 Personality Traits (Weidman et al., 2018). So far existing literature on humbleness has been hypothetical as evidence has been lacking in studies on leader humbleness and perceived leadership effectiveness (Owens & Hekman, 2012).

Since the link of humbleness in combination with leadership was lacking in recent literature, this is an important aspect to explore. What we do know already is that humbleness can mean more voice and more appreciation from employees; however, followers do appreciate it when a leader is humble (Ali et al., 2020; Chancellor & Lyubomirsky, 2013). It is important for humble leaders to show that they are human and also make mistakes and have weaknesses (Weick, 2001). Existing literature mainly shows that humbleness is a leader trait rather than a set of behaviors that one can obtain (Owens & Hekman, 2012). Additionally, humbleness can also be described as a leader that is self-aware and very much open to new ideas (Morris et al., 2005). A humble leader can be described as someone who is eager to learn, respects others, accepts failures, and asks for advice (Vera & Rodriguez-Lopez, 2004). There is, however, overlap in different studies when it comes to humble leaders. Overall followers tend to appreciate humble leaders more, they look at new ideas more openly and are more self-aware (Exline & Geyer, 2004; Owens et al., 2013a; Owens & Hekman, 2012).

A study by Ali et al., (2020) showed that leader humbleness has a positive impact on the success of a project. Therefore, the study showed that the leaders were effective as they helped followers with motivation, self-respect, and growing their skills set. Showing humbleness for leaders is specifically important for effective leadership (B. P. Owens &

Hekman, 2012). Furthermore, humbleness helps the leader to focus on the employees rather

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than on oneself (Morris et al., 2005). Additionally, when a leader possesses humbleness as a leadership trait this can have positive effects on the organizational performance as humble leaders focus on organizational learning (Vera & Rodriguez-Lopez, 2004).

2.2 Leader Assertiveness

Not only humbleness has been a popular topic in literature, but leader assertiveness is another leader trait that gained more attention in literature (Lambertz-Berndt & Blight, 2016).

Leaders can show different levels of assertiveness (D. Ames, 2009). Assertiveness is defined as: “an interpersonal characteristic that emerges in social contexts that connotes a manifested willingness to view oneself accurately, a displayed appreciation of others’ strengths and contributions, and teachability” (Owens et al., 2013, p. 1518). However, a study by Ames (2009) describes assertiveness as the willingness of the leader to stand up for his or her own ideas, making this vocal, and not letting others tell one otherwise. Assertiveness can be displayed on a behavioral spectrum as one can show either low, high, or moderate assertiveness (Ames, 2009). Some behaviors that are linked with low assertiveness are for instance:

avoidance and passivity, whereas high assertiveness, is linked to competition and hostility (Mathison, 1986). Moderate assertiveness, in turn, can be linked to for example engagement, resistance, and collaboration.

Ames and Flynn (2009) argue that a leader with relatively low assertiveness can be seen as a weak leader. This is because leaders who show low assertiveness are not taking charge and do not take initiative. In addition, assertiveness is positively related to leadership effectiveness (Ames & Flynn, 2007).

The effects of high and low assertiveness can be distributed into two domains; social and instrumental (Ames, 2009). Social outcomes are described as trust and positive relationships. Furthermore, instrumental outcomes are described as achieving task results and

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getting one’s way. Leaders who score low on assertiveness might be seen as too indifferent and have low instrumental benefits and high social outcomes (Ames, 2009).

2.3 Perceived effectiveness of the leader

It is evident for a leader to be effective as today’s organizations are operating in a fast- paced environment (Weinberger, 2009). Typical effective leaders can be described as leaders that get the right results in a set time frame that is applicable in their sector and to their stakeholder's (Goleman, 2000). In general, followers have prototypical ideas about a leader, if these ideas match with the leader then this leader is seen as more effective (De Hoogh et al., 2005; Lord & Maher, 1991)

Perceived leadership effectiveness and its components are defined in a study by Kouzes and Posner (2007). The five key attributes identified are challenging the process, inspiring a shared vision, enabling others to act, modeling the way, and encouraging the heart. Challenging the process can be explained as coming up with new ideas which shows that leaders are willing to change and open to new challenges (Abutineh et al., 2009). To bring people together and for an organization to perform successfully a shared vision is needed, leaders should inspire their followers in order to make them enthusiastic (Weinberger, 2009). Enabling others to act is important to give followers freedom, this can be done by including team members in the decision-making process (Abutineh et al., 2009). Effective leaders should also set the right example and demonstrate the values they promote within the organization. Lastly, effective leaders encourage the heart by motivating their followers through recognition and rewards for their employee's (Gordon, 2007). These key attributes of leadership effectiveness are assessed by the follower and therefore the construct is perceived leadership effectiveness.

The effectiveness of a leader is influenced by how followers perceive the leader (Yan

& Hunt, 2005). According to Lord and Maher (1991), their social cognitive theory claims that there are two different perceptions of a leader based on the perspective of the follower

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perception (Lord & Maher, 1991). The first one is the inference-based perception which focuses on the practical part of leadership and not on specific traits. Successful organizational performance determines if a leader is perceived as effective by a follower or not. Secondly, the recognition-based perception focuses on leader traits, and based on this the follower decides if a leader is effective or not. These leadership traits can differ across cultures (Den Hartog et al., 1999).

2.4 Leader Humbleness, Leader Assertiveness, and perceived effectiveness of the leader We now know that both humbleness and assertiveness influence perceived leadership effectiveness (Ames, 2009; Ou et al., 2018). Assertiveness and humbleness have been found to positively relate to perceived leadership effectiveness. Both assertiveness and humbleness can be seen as opposite leader traits (Santora, 2007). This is because narcissism is explained through a mix of assertiveness, arrogance, and egoism (Zhang et al., 2017). Assertiveness can therefore be seen as the opposite leadership trait of humbleness. Both relationships, assertiveness with perceived leadership effectiveness and humbleness with perceived leadership effectiveness, are predicted to be positive relationships (Chancellor & Lyubomirsky, 2013; Santora, 2007). On the one hand, assertive leaders are not waiting for the action to be taken, they go straight to their goals (Ames, 2009). On the other hand, showing humbleness has a positive effect on perceived leadership effectiveness too as seeing the bright side in followers and teaching them new skills is in line with some key attributes of leadership effectiveness such as: enabling others to act and encouraging the heart (Owens et al., 2015).

Moreover, effective leadership is often linked to emotional intelligence (Morris et al., 2005). A study by Goleman (2002) found that leaders who scored higher on emotional intelligence were better at making employees more enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic. This is in line with humble leaders as they are generally more honest and self-aware (Morris et al.,

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2005). Humble leaders are more self-controlled and thus are better at maintaining effective relationships with their follower's (Eragula, 2015). Therefore, hypothesis one is as follows:

Hypothesis 1: Humbleness positively relates to the perceived effectiveness of the leader.

Overall, there is a positive effect of assertiveness on perceived leadership effectiveness (Manian & Sheth, 2021). Thus, it can be concluded that leaders who display a high level of assertiveness will be perceived as more effective leaders (Santora, 2007). Consequently, the following hypothesis was formulated in line with previous literature:

Hypothesis 2: Assertiveness positively relates to the perceived effectiveness of the leader.

2.5 Gender of the leader and perceived effectiveness of the leader

The gender of the leader can be defined as the way a person identifies as male or female (Manian & Sheth, 2021). It is different from sex since this is related to the biological definition of gender and how a person is born (Palmer & Clegg, 2020). In this study, the focus will be on gender and thus on the way a person identifies him or herself. It is a self-identity construct based on one’s sense of self (Madera et al., 2009).

The gender of a leader has already often been linked to perceived leader effectiveness (Cann & Siegfried, 1990). Perceived leadership effectiveness is often described with agentic traits which again is in line with male gender roles. The study by Cann and Siegfried also found that subordinates tend to value feminine characteristics more, whereas leaders value masculine characteristics more as opposed to feminine characteristics. Research by Velsen, Taylor, and Leslie (1993) found that women tend to underestimate themselves more often in leadership roles. However, female leaders who underrated themselves were rated highest in terms of perceived leadership effectiveness. Showing humbleness or assertiveness as a leader may have

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a different effect on the perceived leadership effectiveness if a leader is female as opposed to male (Chiu & Owens, 2013).

Another reason that humbleness and assertiveness can be seen as opposite leader traits is that humbleness is considered a communal trait, whereas assertiveness is considered an agentic trait (Van Velsor et al., 1993). Additionally, when we look at assertiveness and humbleness in combination with gender, men and women are assessed differently when humbleness and assertiveness are displayed by men and women (Abele, 2003; Madera et al., 2009). This can be explained through communal traits that are linked to female leaders and agentic traits to male leaders.

2.6 Gender of the leader, humbleness, and perceived effectiveness of the leader

Humbleness can be seen as a communal leader characteristic. Communal characteristics are for instance warmth, honesty, trustworthiness, sympathy, and being kind (Berkery et al., 2013). A study by Zapata and Hayes-Jones (2019) argues that humbleness is beneficial for leaders as it increases the perception of communal traits. This is positive for leader effectiveness as communal traits are increasingly seen as more effective when it comes to leadership effectiveness (Rosette & Tost, 2010). Besides the trait is also associated with positive relationships with followers which is also important for increasing perceived leadership effectiveness (Zapata & Hayes-Jones, 2019). On the contrary, humbleness can also have a negative effect on leaders as it decreases the perception of agentic traits (Taylor, 2013). Agentic traits are for instance assertiveness, confidence, energy, and persistency (Berkery et al., 2013).

This is negative as both agentic and communal traits need to be present in a leader for a leader to be perceived as effective (Abele, 2003). Indeed, both communal and agentic characteristics have a positive effect on perceived leader effectiveness as both are needed for a leader to be considered effective by their follower's (Zapata & Hayes-Jones, 2019). Women are more often

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described with the use of communal characteristics, while men are more often linked to agentic characteristics (Madera et al., 2009).

Humbleness can be different for both genders (Mao et al., 2019). When it comes to humbleness, in general, female leaders are associated naturally with humbleness, as this typically is in line with communal traits and thus with female's (Ou et al., 2018). When taking into account the social role theory by Eagly (1987), females are expected to show communal traits, while males are expected to show agentic traits. If someone does not live up to these expectations, he or she will be perceived negatively (Eagly & Karau, 2002; Eagly & Kite, 1987). If for example, women show agentic traits, they will also be evaluated more strictly (Rudman, 1998). Therefore, female leaders are having a hard time when it comes to humbleness as they also feel pressured to present themselves as a strong leader as humbleness is not in line with the expectations of a leader in general since humbleness is considered a communal trait (Owens & Hekman, 2012). For a woman to be perceived as an effective leader she needs to show agentic traits, thus strength rather than humbleness. Consequently, the study by Owens and Hekman showed that female leaders who were humble were perceived more negatively by subordinates. On the other hand, male leaders who were not humble were perceived as more competent and stronger. Data of the study by Owens and Hekman showed that women are more likely to be socially judged when they show humbleness, while male leaders are admired for showing this trait. In one of the interviews, it was mentioned that “women are expected to be more humble in society, whereas males receive more credits for being humble” (Owens &

Hekman, 2012, p.797). Indeed, females receive criticism when they show their humbleness (Afshan et al., 2021). The literature study led to the following hypothesis:

Hypothesis 3: Leader gender moderates the relationship between leader humbleness and perceived leader effectiveness, such that humble female leaders are perceived as less effective than humble male leaders.

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2.7 Gender of the leader, assertiveness, and perceived effectiveness of the leader

The previously mentioned positive effect of assertiveness on perceived leadership effectiveness is specifically of interest for male leaders, as assertiveness is considered an agentic trait (Manian & Sheth, 2021). There could be a difference for female leaders in terms of the effect of assertiveness on perceived leadership effectiveness because of gender- stereotypical beliefs (Yoder, 2001). As explained before, assertiveness is considered an agentic trait that is typically linked to men (Abele, 2003). Women showing assertiveness is considered as counter stereotypical behavior, therefore the effect of assertiveness on the perceived effectiveness of the leader could be less strong for female leaders compared to male leaders (Amanatullah & Morris, 2010).

As previously mentioned, assertiveness is considered an agentic trait and thus typically linked to males (Madera et al., 2009; Newman & Trump, 2019). Indeed, males are generally perceived as more assertive than females (Feingold, 1994; Parham et al., 2015). Female leaders are evaluated more negatively if they do not show assertive behavior because effective leaders are often associated with typical male agentic traits such as assertiveness (Phelan & Rudman, 2010). This is in line with the social role theory by Eagly (1987) as mentioned previously. If women show assertiveness, thus an agentic trait, they will be assessed negatively and more harshly as this behavior is counter stereotypical. A study by Jackson and Huston (2010) showed that females who were more physically attractive were perceived as more effective leaders. In addition, assertive behavior is less accepted for women if the goal of this assertive behavior is to attain dominance (Lambertz-Berndt & Blight, 2016; Sebanc et al., 2003). Furthermore, research showed that subordinates agreed more often to the commands and decisions of male leaders as opposed to female leaders (Eisler et al., 1975; Lambertz-Berndt & Blight, 2016).

Based on the research and the social role theory by Eagly it can be concluded that showing assertiveness is perceived more negatively for female leaders than for male leaders. Thus, the following hypothesis was formulated:

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Hypothesis 4: Leader gender moderates the relationship between leader assertiveness and perceived leader effectiveness, such that female assertive leaders are perceived as less effective than male assertive leaders.

2.8 Gender stereotypical beliefs

Even though numbers are rising, still there are not that many female leaders in high management positions (Vinkenburg et al., 2011). This can be explained by the gender- stereotypical beliefs of the followers of leaders. The previous is one of the reasons that still prevent women from obtaining top managerial positions (Hymowitz & Shellhardt, 1986).

Gender-stereotypical beliefs can be defined as “general expectations about members of particular social groups” (Ellemers, 2018). Gender stereotypical beliefs can be divided into descriptive and prescriptive beliefs. Descriptive beliefs relate to how males and females actually behave and prescriptive beliefs relate to how males and females should behave (Vinkenburg et al., 2011).

When it comes to gender-stereotypical beliefs assertive women are rated negatively by women (Mathison, 1986). In contrast, males rate assertive women as positive (Lambertz-Berndt

& Blight, 2016). Women are stereotypically and socially expected to show agreement, which is the opposite of assertiveness (Stohl, 1982). Contrastingly, humbleness and assertiveness may also have negative consequences (Chancellor & Lyubomirsky, 2013; Eisler et al., 1975). To reconcile these contradicting findings regarding leader assertiveness and humbleness we bring in the gender of the leader and stereotypical beliefs of the follower.

Literature suggests that these stereotypical beliefs are really of influence (Ellemers, 2018). The gender stereotyping of followers is also an important aspect to take into consideration for this study (Madden, 2011). When the follower evaluates a leader, the evaluation outcome is dependent on how stereotypical the follower thinks. For example, if a follower has strong stereotypical beliefs, the more annoyed the follower would be by an

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assertive female leader. This can be explained by the fact that a female is seen as communal, caring, and not at all as aggressive or assertive (Abele, 2003). This outcome would be different if a follower is not thinking stereotypically (Ellemers, 2018).

The gender of the leader leads to gender role expectations, thus the stereotypical beliefs of followers (Cann & Siegfried, 1990). This is in line with the social role theory which explains that the distinction between men and women is still present and both genders have different social roles and thus gender roles (Schneider & Bos, 2019). If male or female leaders behave counter stereotypically, they might experience the phenomenon called the backlash effect (Rudman & Phelan, 2008). For women to obtain leadership positions they need to behave more counter stereotypically. However, because of the gender-stereotypical beliefs of followers, this counter stereotypical behavior can result in the backlash effect (Phelan & Rudman, 2010;

Rudman & Phelan, 2008). This phenomenon can be defined as social and economic costs, such as being biased for behaving against the regular gender stereotypes (Phelan & Rudman, 2010).

Moreover, the backlash effect is more harmful to females as opposed to males as women are required to behave counter stereotypically to advance their careers (Rudman & Phelan, 2008).

In addition, humbleness has a more positive effect on perceived leader effectiveness as humble leaders are more open to new ideas, recognize their own weaknesses, and employees feel generally safer when a leader is humble (Rego et al., 2018). When followers have strong gender-stereotypical beliefs, humbleness in leaders is appreciated by followers and therefore followers perceive the leader as more effective (Mittal & Dorfman, 2012). Similarly for assertiveness, only assertiveness has a stronger negative effect on the perceived effectiveness of the leader. This is because strong levels of assertiveness are generally not appreciated in a leader by the followers when a follower adopts strong gender-stereotypical beliefs as this is perceived as too unsympathetic by the follower (Santora, 2007).

Thus, hypotheses 5 and 6 were formulated;

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Hypothesis 5: Humbleness has a stronger positive effect on perceived leader effectiveness leaders when followers have strong gender-stereotypical beliefs.

Hypothesis 6: Assertiveness has a stronger negative effect on perceived leader effectiveness when followers have strong gender-stereotypical beliefs.

When considering stereotypes, female leaders are expected to demonstrate and possess communal and nurturing behaviors which are in line with their gender roles (Caleo &

Heilman, 2019). This is in line with humbleness, however the opposite of narcissism and thus assertive behavior (Zhang et al., 2017). Humbleness is a characteristic that is seen as something positive for male leaders, while for a woman this can be perceived as weaker if she demonstrates humbleness (Chiu & Owens, 2013). Female leaders might run against the stereotypical expectations of a female leader and as a result, such a leader is perceived as less effective. This effect is especially suspected to be present when followers think stereotypically (Berkery et al., 2013). As for male leaders, they might get a communality bonus if they show humbleness.

Since showing humbleness is a counter stereotypical behavior for men and this is not exactly in line with their gender stereotypes, they get extra rewarded for it (Mcclean et al., 2021). For women, this behavior is expected and therefore they do not get praised extra for this specific behavior. Showing counter-stereotypical behavior is even more pronounced by followers, so humbleness showed by male leaders will be perceived as more humble as opposed to a female showing humbleness as this is in line with their gender role (Bisgaard & Pedersen, 2021).

Assertiveness is associated to be an agentic trait (Parham et al., 2015). People relate agentic characteristics mainly to men rather than women. Therefore, for females, this contradicts their expected behavior, thus it is generally more acceptable for males to be assertive as opposed to female's (Taylor, 2013). It is expected that when female leaders show extreme levels of assertive behavior the social costs might be more severe for female leaders compared

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to male leaders (Rudman, 1998). A reason for this could be that the feminine gender role is violated when showing extreme levels of assertiveness as a female leader (Eagly & Karau, 2002; Rudman, 1998). We expect that the moderating effect of leader gender is explained by employees’ gender-stereotypical beliefs. Employees with stronger stereotypical beliefs will have the idea that leaders should mainly showcase agentic traits which are linked to male leaders (Bisgaard & Pedersen, 2021; Vinkenburg et al., 2011). As a result, these followers will see female leaders high on humbleness and assertiveness as less effective leaders (Cann &

Siegfried, 1990). Thus, we expect the following:

Hypothesis 7: The moderating effect of leader gender will be mediated by the moderating effect of stereotypical beliefs on the relationships between leader humbleness and leader assertiveness with perceived leader effectiveness.

3 Research Method

3.1 Procedure

For this quantitative research, a deductive approach was taken, from general to specific.

The study is part of a larger project with the theme of Leader Traits. Therefore, other measures which were not relevant to this research question were also included in the survey. The strategy used to answer the research question was a survey, only one method was used, thus this method can be acknowledged as a mono-method. Convenience sampling was used as it was difficult to access both leaders and followers together in companies and the population was quite large.

Additionally, the EBEC granted permission for this research.

Random follower recruitment was applied with the help of an invitation letter (see Appendix 2). Participants were first contacted and approached to ask to participate and provide email addresses. After, they were sent an email with the Qualtrics survey link. The participants were first given information about the study and were informed that everything was in line with

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the ethics protocol. The study's data collection procedure and ethics were approved by the EBEC. Thereafter, participants were given the question to indicate their consent, and confidentiality was ensured. Incentives were given to participants as they were informed that per dyad one euro was going to be donated to Ukraine. The survey was distributed digitally from the 9th of April till the 3rd of May 2022. Reminders were sent in the third week of April 2022 and the last week of April 2022. With the help of sending these reminders, we collected approximately 50 extra dyads.

The research and method can be considered cross-sectional since data was collected at only one point in time. The data was collected with the help of a Qualtrics survey. The survey questions were provided in Dutch as well as English based on the respondents’ preferences.

Demographics were also collected such as gender and age. 7-point Likert scales were used for all the other following measures meaning 1=strongly disagree and 7=strongly agree. A pilot test was performed with the survey, to make sure all survey questions were clear. All scales and Dutch translations can be found in Appendix 1.

3.2 Sample

The sample can be considered as leader-follower dyads, so both leaders and their followers filled out this survey. The survey was a self-reported survey, where followers filled in the questions with regard to followers, and managers answered the questions specifically tailored to the leader. There were two different surveys, one for the follower and one for the leader which were linked together through codes that matched the leader and the follower. The population were leaders and followers from companies mainly in the Netherlands.

The concluded sample size consists of 145 respondents. The response rate was 76%.

The response rate for leaders specifically was 75% and for followers 80%. The average age of the sample was 36.76 years. In addition, the average tenure was concluded to be 6.71 years.

With regards to gender, 48.65% of the respondents were female and 51,.5% were male. Both leaders and followers work in a wide variety of industries.

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Looking at leaders specifically 36.6% of the leaders were female and 63.4% male.

Additionally, 35,2% of the leaders graduated from university with a master's degree. The leaders in the sample had an average age of 40.39 years (SD=11.60). Leaders worked 42.48 hours per week on average (SD=10.58).

The followers in this sample had an average age of 33.12 years (SD=12.65), with 39.3%

of the followers being male and 60.7% female. 49.7% had a university bachelor’s degree as their highest level of completed education. The average length of leader-follower acquaintance was 3.70 years (SD=5). Whereas the average tenure for the current company followers are working was years 4.48 (SD=5.02). Lastly, followers worked on average 33.15 hours per week (SD=11.08).

3.3 Measurements

All constructs were measured. The independent variables are assertiveness and humbleness which were assessed and filled in by the leaders. The dependent variable is the perceived effectiveness of the leader, this scale was filled out by the follower. Furthermore, the moderators are the gender of the leader which was filled in by the leader and the stereotypical beliefs of the follower, assessed by the follower. For all variables participants were given the instruction to “please indicate the degree to which you agree with the following statements”.

Only for the scale perceived leadership effectiveness, a different instruction was given: “please indicate how this leader was rated in the last couple of months based on the following criteria”, together with an additional reminder that results were treated confidentially.

Leader Assertiveness

This scale consists of 12 items and includes statements developed by Goldberg (1999).

Some examples are: “I try to lead others”, “I stick up for myself” and “I know what I want”

(Goldberg, 1999). This scale was answered by the leader (1=strongly disagree, 7=strongly agree). Leaders were asked to indicate how much they agreed or disagreed with each statement

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about themselves. The Leader Assertiveness scale uses reverse responses for statements 10, 11, and 12, being negatively stated items compared to the remaining items which are positively stated. The internal reliability of leader assertiveness was sufficient with a Cronbach's Alpha of 0.73 (Appendix 3.1).

Leader Humbleness

This measure called the “expressed humbleness scale” developed by Owens et al., (2013) contains 9 items with statements such as “I actively seek feedback, even if it is critical”

and “I am willing to learn from others”. These questions were answered by the leader (1=strongly disagree, 7=strongly agree). These statements were rated by the leader by giving an indication of how much he or she agreed or disagreed with each statement about the leader.

Items were adapted from the original scale by changing he/she to the word I to make the statements personal. The internal reliability of leader humbleness was good with a Cronbach’s Alpha of 0.81 (Appendix 3.2).

Perceived effectiveness of the leader

This measure, perceived leader effectiveness scale is based on three items with the following questions “To what extent is the overall functioning of the person you evaluate satisfactory?’ ‘How capable is the person you are evaluating as a leader?’ and ‘How effective is the person you are evaluating as a leader?’ (De Hoogh et al., 2005). This scale was reported by the followers. Furthermore, followers were asked to indicate the effectiveness of their leader from 1 = not at all to 7= very much so. The internal reliability of the perceived effectiveness of the leader was strong with a Cronbach’s Alpha of 0.89 (Appendix 3.3).

Gender of the leader

The survey contained a question with regards to the gender of the leader which is based on self-identity. It is self-reported, and femininity and masculinity were used as a scale with non-binary as neutral. The gender of the leader was filled in by the leader. No leader filled in

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the option non-binary, therefore this variable turned into a binary variable being men vis-à-vis women.

Gender-stereotypical beliefs

This shortened version of the Gender Role Beliefs scale consists of 10 items with statements such as; “I like women who are outspoken” and “It is ridiculous for a woman to run a locomotive and for a man to darn socks” (Brown & Gladstone, 2012). This scale was reported by the follower (1=strongly disagree, 7=strongly agree). The statements were given an indication by the followers to show how much they agreed or disagreed with the statements.

The Gender Stereotypical Beliefs scale used one reversed item, question number three, which is a favorable question for women compared to the other questions that are favorable for men.

The Cronbach’s Alpha of gender stereotypical beliefs was 0.83 meaning that the internal reliability can be considered good (Appendix 3.4).

Control variables

It makes theoretical sense to include multiple control variables as they might affect the relationships and it ensures generalizability (Bernerth & Aguinis, 2016). Age can influence gender-stereotypical beliefs as maturity can have an influence on these beliefs (Emmers- Sommer et al., 2009). Additionally, education may have an influence on assertiveness as well as gender-stereotypical beliefs as the level of education may influence the extent of bias and how stereotypical one might think (Madden, 2011; Onyeizugbo, 2003). Lastly, the tenure for both leaders as well as followers was used as a control variable as this might influence the way followers assess their leaders based on how long they work in the organization and how long they have worked together with their leader (Bernerth et al., 2018).

3.4 Analytical procedure

All collected responses were exported from Qualtrics into Excel and analyzed with the statistical analysis tool SPSS. The steps suggested by Muller, Judd, and Yzerbyt (2005) were

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used to test for mediated moderation. For Hypotheses 1 and 2, leader humbleness, leader assertiveness with perceived effectiveness, and the direct relationships were tested with a multiple regression analysis. The first requirement for mediated moderation is that there is an overall moderation effect. Therefore, in Hypotheses 3 and 4, the direct relationships moderated by the gender of the leader were tested with a moderation analysis with PROCESS Model 1.

The second requirement for mediated moderation is that there is a main effect of the moderator on the mediator, so the gender of the leader on gender-stereotypical beliefs of the follower. To test the effect of this moderated mediation with gender-stereotypical beliefs of the follower and gender of the leader on the direct relationships a linear regression was used for Hypotheses 5 and 6. The third and final step and requirement for moderated mediation is that the interactive effect of the independent variable and the moderator should no longer be significant when controlling for the interactive effect between assertiveness with gender-stereotypical beliefs of the follower and humbleness with gender-stereotypical beliefs of the follower. Therefore, PROCESS Model 2 was used. The complete model was tested by answering Hypothesis 7.

4 Results

SPSS IBM Statistics was used to analyze the data, all hypotheses were tested with a significance level of .05.

In order to perform the analysis, different assumptions need to be met prior to the analysis and therefore these were tested for (Field, 2021). Firstly, an outlier check was performed, all z-scores were below 3 (Appendix 3.5), therefore it can be concluded that there were no outliers present in the data. Secondly, a normality check was performed. The normal distribution has a skewness and kurtosis close to 1, therefore it can be concluded that all data is normally distributed (Appendix 3.6). The normal P-Plots of the regressions are displayed in Appendix 3.7.

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4.1 Descriptive statistics

Table 1 represents the correlation table including the descriptive statistics including means, standard deviations, and correlations. The following variables were included in the correlation table: leader assertiveness, leader humbleness, perceived leader effectiveness, gender-stereotypical beliefs, and gender of the leader. The following control variables were also included as mentioned before in the method section: age, tenure, and education of both the leader and the follower. The correlation table shows that leader humbleness and leader assertiveness are significantly correlated (r = .17, p = .044), this suggests that these variables are mutually related. The Mean of gender-stereotypical beliefs is on the lower side (M = 2.46) which is in line with previous research as a study by Ifegbesan (2010) showed a Mean of 3.1 which is higher, however still on the lower side. In addition, leader education and leader humbleness are significantly and positively correlated (r = .19, p = .024). Furthermore, leader tenure and leader assertiveness are positively and significantly correlated (r = .21, p = .011).

Follower age and leader humbleness are also significantly, however negatively, correlated (r = -.18, p = .034). Additionally, follower tenure and leader humbleness are also significantly and negatively correlated (r = -.19, p = .022).

A few variables were also significantly correlated with a p value lower than .01.

Follower education and leader education are positively and significantly correlated (r = .28, p

= .001). Likewise, leader tenure and leader age and follower age are significantly and positively correlated (r = .54, p = .000) (r = .26, p = .002). Furthermore, follower age and follower education are significantly, however, negatively correlated (r = -.22, p = .008). Lastly, follower tenure and leader age are significantly and positively correlated (r = .39, p = .000).

Lastly, in Table 1, the correlation table was used to analyze if the right control variables were used for the analysis. As can be seen in the correlation table, all control variables are correlating with at least one other variable. More specifically, leader education, follower age, leader tenure, and follower tenure are all correlating with at least one of the independent

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variables, leader assertiveness, and leader humbleness. However, none of the control variables were significantly related when included in the analyses to test the hypotheses. Therefore, all control variables were excluded from further analysis and hypothesis testing as they had no impact to protect statistical power (Becker, 2005).

Table 1 Descriptive statistics and correlations

Notes. N = 133. 1 = male, 2 = female. Positional tenure is measured in months and age in years.

p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01

Variable M SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

1 Leader Assertiveness 5.61 .55

2 Leader Humbleness 6.01 .49 .17*

3 Gender-Stereotypical Beliefs 2.46 .93 .04 -.04

4 Perceived Leader Effectiveness 5.93 .91 .03 -.01 -.01 5 Leader gender 1.37 .48 -.03 .01 -.07 .03 6 CTRL Leader education 1.60 .49 -.03 .19* .00 .10 -.08

7 CTRL Follower education 2.71 .91 .00 .00 -.07 .05 -.11 .28**

8 CTRL Leader age 4.39 11.60 .02 -.05 .13 .04 -.08 .08 -.14

9 CTRL Leader Tenure 8.94 8.98 .21* -.06 -.03 .08 -.04 -.09 -.14 .54**

10 CTRL Follower age 3.31 12.65 -.07 -.18* .11 .05 .12 .09 -.22** .57** .26**

11 CTRL Follower Tenure 4.48 5.02 -.10 -.19* .05 .03 .09 .09 -.15 .39** .36** .61**

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4.2 Hypotheses testing 4.2.1 Hypothesis 1

Hypothesis 1 predicted that humbleness is positively related to the perceived effectiveness of the leader. In this hypothesis leader humbleness is the independent variable and the perceived effectiveness of the leader is considered the dependent variable. This direct effect was tested with the help of a multiple hierarchical regression. Table 2 shows the regression model of leader humbleness and perceived leader effectiveness without control variables. Model 1 was statistically significant F (2, 142) = .087, p = .000. The analysis showed a non-significant relationship for leader humbleness and perceived leader effectiveness β = - .01, SE = .15, t (142) = -.13, p = .894, 95% CI [-0.33, 0.29]. Thus, hypothesis 1 is not supported.

Table 2 Regression model of Leader Humbleness, Leader Assertiveness, and Perceived Leader Effectiveness

4.2.2 Hypothesis 2

Hypothesis 2 predicted that assertiveness is positively related to the perceived effectiveness of the leader. In this hypothesis leader assertiveness is the independent variable and the perceived effectiveness of the leader is considered the dependent variable. Likewise, this direct effect was tested with the help of a multiple hierarchical regression. Table 2 shows the regression model of leader assertiveness and perceived leader effectiveness where step 1

R² ∆R2

Adjusted

∆R2 B SE β t

Step 1

.035* .001 -.013 L Humbleness

-.02 .15 -.01 -.13

L Assertiveness

.05 .14 .03 .41

Note. N = 145.

† p < .10, * p < .05, ** p < .01

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again shows the regression without control variables. Similar to hypothesis 1, Model 1 was statistically significant F (2, 142) = .087, p = .000. Furthermore, the regression analysis showed a non-significant relationship for leader assertiveness and perceived leader effectiveness, β = .05, SE = .14, t (142) = .41, p = .681, 95% CI [-0.22, 0.33]. Thus, hypothesis 2 is not supported.

4.2.3 Hypothesis 3

The first requirement that was tested for was an overall moderation effect with Model 1 by Hayes (2018). The following moderation Hypothesis 3 was tested: Leader gender moderates the relationship between leader humbleness and perceived leader effectiveness, such that humble female leaders are perceived as less effective than humble male leaders. Leader humbleness is the independent variable, perceived leader effectiveness is the dependent variable, and leader gender is the moderating variable. PROCESS model 1 by Hayes was used to test the potential interaction effect between the gender of the leader and leader humbleness.

The interaction was found not be significant (b = -.43, SE = 0.32, t = -1.35, p = .176, 95% CI [- 1.07, 0.19]). Leader humbleness did neither have a negative or positive effect on perceived leader effectiveness for female leaders (b = -.28, SE = 0.25, t = -1.12, p = .262, 95% CI [-0.79, 0.21]) compared to male leaders (b = .14, SE = 0.19, t = 0.76, p = .445, 95% CI [-0.23, 0.53]).

Thus, it can be concluded that there was no support for hypothesis 3. The gender of the leader has no significant effect with regards to the relationship of leader humbleness and perceived leader effectiveness.

4.2.4 Hypothesis 4

For the other moderation Hypothesis 4, Model 1 by Hayes (2018) was also used to test:

Leader gender moderates the relationship between leader assertiveness and perceived leader effectiveness, such that female assertive leaders are perceived as less effective than male assertive leaders. Leader assertiveness is the independent variable, perceived leader

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effectiveness is the dependent variable, and leader gender is the moderating variable.

PROCESS model 1 by Hayes was used to test the potential interaction effect between the gender of the leader and leader assertiveness. The interaction with leader assertiveness was found not be significant either (b = .00, SE = 0.30, t = -.02, p = .982, 95% CI [-0.61, 0.59]). Leader assertiveness did neither have a negative or positive effect on perceived leader effectiveness for female leaders (b = .05, SE = 0.25, t = .20, p = .840, 95% CI [-0.45, 0.55]) compared to male leaders (b = .05, SE = 0.16, t = 0.34, p = .727, 95% CI [-0.27, 0.38]). Thus, it can be concluded that there was no support for hypothesis 4. The gender of the leader has no significant effect with regards to the relationship between leader assertiveness and perceived leader effectiveness.

4.2.5 Hypothesis 5 and 6

The second requirement for mediated moderation that was tested for was the main effect of the moderator on the mediator with the help of linear regression. So, the effect of gender of the leader on gender stereotypical beliefs was tested for, in this case gender of the leader was the independent variable and gender stereotypical beliefs of the follower the dependent variable.

The analysis showed a non-significant relationship for the gender of the leader and gender stereotypical beliefs of the follower β = -.07, SE = .16, t (143) = -.85, p = .394, 95% CI [-0.45, 0.18].

In addition, the final requirement for moderated mediation that needed to be tested for was the interactive effect of the independent variable and the moderator, so humbleness with leader gender should not be significant when controlling for the interactive effect. The interactive effect, in this case, is humbleness with the gender-stereotypical beliefs of the follower. Hypotheses 5 and 6 were tested with the help of PROCESS Model 2 by Hayes (2018):

Humbleness has a stronger positive effect on perceived leader effectiveness for male leaders than female leaders when followers have strong gender-stereotypical beliefs. Interaction 1 was found not be significant (b = -.37, SE = 0.33, t = -1.12, p = .263, 95% CI [-1.03, 0.28]). In

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addition, interaction 2 was also insignificant (b = .18, SE = 0.20, t = .91, p = .361, 95% CI [- .21, 0.58]). Thus, it can be concluded that Hypotheses 5 and 6 were rejected.

4.2.6 Hypothesis 7

The final requirement for moderated mediation that needed to be tested for was the interactive effect of the independent variable and the moderator, so assertiveness with leader gender should not be significant when controlling for the interactive effect. The interactive effect, in this case, is assertiveness with gender-stereotypical beliefs of the follower. For hypothesis 7 the complete model was tested with the relationship between the moderators when added simultaneously. Hypothesis 7 was tested with all previous requirements and with the help of PROCESS Model 2 by Hayes (2018): Assertiveness has a stronger negative effect on perceived leader effectiveness for female leaders than male leaders when followers have strong gender-stereotypical beliefs. Interaction 1 was found not be significant (b = -.00, SE = 0.30, t = -.02, p = .982, 95% CI [-.61, 0.60]). In addition, interaction 2 was also insignificant (b = .00, SE = 0.17, t = .05, p = .955, 95% CI [-.33, 0.35]). All effects are insignificant for both high and low levels of the moderator’s leader gender and gender-stereotypical beliefs of the follower.

When both moderators are high for humbleness the effect size is strongest, however negative.

(b = -.08, SE = 0.33, t = -.25, p = .796, 95% CI [-.75, 0.58]). Similarly for assertiveness (b = .06, SE = 0.31, t = .19, p = .844, 95% CI [-.55, 0.67]). Therefore, Hypothesis 7 was rejected.

5 Discussion

5.1 Discussion of results

The aim of this study was to broaden the existing literature on leader traits, gender, and gender-stereotypical beliefs. This was done with the help of leader-follower dyads whom both filled in a questionnaire. The goal was to explore if the leader traits of humbleness and assertiveness had a different effect on the perceived effectiveness of leaders for male and female

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leaders. The research question was as follows: “Is the relation of humbleness and assertiveness on the perceived effectiveness of the leader stronger for male leaders compared to female leaders and is this moderating effect explained by employees’ gender-stereotypical beliefs?”

and was answered by testing seven different hypotheses. This study was conducted mainly in the Netherlands, with 145 complete leader-follower dyads (N=145) and was a quantitative study.

Contrary to previous research findings (Rego et al., 2018; Weinberger, 2009) we found no support for the idea that humbleness is positively related to perceived leader effectiveness.

Thus, the results are suggesting that no relationship exists between the variables leader humbleness and perceived effectiveness of the leader. The literature findings are however contradicting as the literature suggested that leader humbleness was positively related to the perceived effectiveness of the leader (Owens & Hekman, 2012).

In addition, no support in the results of this study was found for the idea that assertiveness positively relates to the perceived effectiveness of the leader. Therefore, the results are again suggesting that no relationship exists between leader assertiveness and the perceived effectiveness of the leader. This is again contradicting the literature findings as the literature suggested that leader assertiveness was positively related to the perceived effectiveness of the leader (Ames & Flynn, 2007).

The literature review showed that leader humbleness is more negative for female leaders as they are perceived as less effective leaders when showing humbleness and receive more criticism when showing humbleness (Afshan et al., 2021; Owens & Hekman, 2012). However, contrary to the previously mentioned research findings by Afshan (2021) and Owens and Hekman (2012) no support was found for the belief that leader gender moderates the relationship between leader humbleness and perceived leader effectiveness, such that humble female leaders are perceived as less effective than humble male leaders.

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Similarly, there was no support found for the idea that leader gender moderates the relationship between leader assertiveness and perceived leader effectiveness, such that female assertive leaders are perceived as less effective than male assertive leaders. Contradictory to our findings the researched literature showed that female leaders who are assertive are perceived as less effective (Eagly, 1987). This can be explained by the social role theory of Eagly (1987). The social role theory is a theory that argues that gender-stereotypical beliefs are the cause for people having perceptions of males and females in specific social roles in society (Eagly & Wood, 2012). Therefore, females are expected to not be assertive or show their assertiveness in society in general, this belief is created by society (Eagly, 1987).

Additionally, the gender-stereotypical beliefs of followers should have an influence on leader humbleness and perceived leader effectiveness, which should be stronger for male leaders as males are praised for showing humbleness (Bisgaard & Pedersen, 2021). The previous was expected from the literature, however, we could not find the support for the idea that leader humbleness has a stronger positive effect on perceived leader effectiveness leaders when followers have strong gender-stereotypical beliefs.

Likewise, we found no support for the belief that assertiveness has a stronger negative effect on perceived leader effectiveness when followers have strong gender-stereotypical beliefs. The literature suggested that assertiveness had a more negative effect on female leaders as opposed to male leaders when followers have strong gender-stereotypical beliefs (Eagly &

Karau, 2002; Rudman, 1998). However, the results were not able to confirm this, again contradictory to our findings.

All in all, when having tested the complete model, contrary to previous findings in the literature (Madden, 2011; Taylor, 2013), we found no support for the idea that the moderating effect of leader gender will be mediated by the moderating effect of stereotypical beliefs on the relationships between leader humbleness and leader assertiveness with perceived leader effectiveness. The whole model was tested; however, no significant result was found for this

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hypothesis. While literature suggests that a relationship does exist between the moderator's leader gender and the gender-stereotypical beliefs of the follower (Madden, 2011).

All hypotheses were rejected and not supported by this study which is contradicting the literature findings (Afshan et al., 2021; Ames & Flynn, 2007; Bisgaard & Pedersen, 2021;

Eagly, 1987; Eagly & Karau, 2002; Madden, 2011; Owens & Hekman, 2012; Rudman, 1998).

Previous literature however shows that there is proof for the hypotheses, only in this study there is no evidence that leader humbleness and leader assertiveness are judged differently. This could have to do with the limitations of this study which will be discussed later in this section.

There are more theoretical reasons that could be attributed to the fact that there were no significant results found in this study. When we look at the mean of the variable gender- stereotypical beliefs we can see this is quite low (M=2.46), there is, however, sufficient variation. This means that most participants of the study had low gender-stereotypical beliefs.

If we look at previous research the mean is somewhat similar. An example of this is a study about gender-stereotypical beliefs in the classroom, here the mean was 3.1 (Ifegbesan, 2010).

Thus, our mean for gender-stereotypical beliefs is really on the lower side, meaning a general low score for gender-stereotypical beliefs in our sample. A reason for this could be that by coincidence our sample existed of a group of modern-day people. These are people that are more open-minded and are raised with the idea that males and females can be similar in terms of characteristics and behavior and thus think less stereotypically (Fischbach et al., 2015).

Another reason for the low mean score could be that our respondents gave socially desirable answers while filling out the survey. Respondents do this as they think these answers make them look good and answer based on the desirability of values that are based on cultural norms (Steenkamp et al., 2010). Therefore, respondents think that being a person that is not judgmental and does not think stereotypically makes one look good (Barcaccia et al., 2019; Neckar &

Lazaro Szlachta, 2019). The low mean score for gender-stereotypical beliefs could also be caused by the fact that people became less gender-biased (Berenbaum, 2019). There is proof

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