EXPLORING LEADER'S SUPPORT FROM A MULTIDIMENSIONAL PERSPECTIVE: IMPLICATIONS OF LEADER'S ATTACHMENT STYLE AND REQUEST CHARACTERISTICS
Drach-Zahavy, A. and Somech, A., University of Haifa, Israel
Leader's support has been recognized as a major means of reducing employees' job stress and a potent leadership tool that promotes performance. The aim of present study was to fill a theoretical gap in the support literature, by (a)proposing a multidimensional taxonomy for providing social support; (b)using an attachment-theory framework to investigate support provision at work; and (c)exploring the distinct contextual considerations, which affect the type of support provided by the leader. Case studies were presented to 80 hospital nurses in administrative positions, who, taking the role of the leader, were asked to deal with a distressed follower, who was either high or low tenured, and whose cause of distress was either personal or job-related. Participants' support interventions and attachment styles were measured. Results from factor analysis provided evidence for the multidimensionality of support, and indicated that it contains three distinct support facets: (a)direct support, which refers to providing task or emotional supports; (b)indirect support, which occurs when a superior delegates responsibility for support either to another agent, or to the support seeker him/herself; and (c)maintenance, which refers to support behaviors that preserve relationship by small acts of consideration, encouragement, and backing. Furthermore, the results indicated that the tendency to provide those distinct support behaviors was clearly shaped by the leader's attachment style, and by the contextual attributes, which further reinforces our multidimensional model of support. These results highlight the transactional nature of support and have theoretical and practical implications.