Leadership and expectations: Pygmalion effects and other self-fulfilling prophecies in organizations

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Abstract

The Pygmalion effect is a type of self-fulfilling prophecy (SFP) in which raising manager expectations regarding subordinate performance boosts subordinate performance. Managers who are led to expect more of their subordinates lead them to greater achievement. Programmatic research findings from field experiments are reviewed, and our present knowledge about the Pygmalion effect in the management of industrial, sales, and military organizations is summarized. A model is presented in which leadership is hypothesized to be the key mediator through which manager expectations influence subordinate self-efficacy, performance expectations, motivation, effort, and performance. The behaviors that comprise the Pygmalion Leadership Style are described. Besides creating the one-on-one Pygmalion effect, additional ways for managers to assert their leadership by creating productive organizationwide SFP are suggested. An agenda for research on SFP applications is proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-305
Number of pages35
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Volume3
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1992

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