Leader Humility and Team Creativity: The Role of Team Information Sharing, Psychological Safety, and Power Distance

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Journal of Applied Psychology

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In this study, we identify leader humility, characterized by being open to admitting one’s limitations, shortcomings, and mistakes, and showing appreciation and giving credit to followers, as a critical leader characteristic relevant for team creativity. Integrating the literatures on creativity and leadership, we explore the relationship between leader humility and team creativity, treating team psychological safety and team information sharing as mediators. Further, we hypothesize and examine team power distance as a moderator of the relationship. We tested our hypotheses using data gathered from 72 work teams and 354 individual members from 11 information and technology firms in China using a multiple-source, time-lagged research design. We found that the positive relationship between leader humility and team information sharing was significant and positive only within teams with a low power distance value. In addition, leader humility was negatively related to team psychological safety in teams with a high power distance value, whereas the relationship was positive yet nonsignificant in teams with low power distance. Furthermore, team information sharing and psychological safety were both significantly related to team creativity. We discuss theoretical and practical implications for leadership and work teams.



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