Goal-Focused Leadership, Leader-Member Exchange, and Task Performance: The Moderating Effects of Goal Orientations and Emotional Exhaustion

Dongkyu Kim, Dongwon Choi, Christian Vandenberghe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


An important role of leaders is to foster followers’ performance through goal setting processes, which involve reciprocal interactions between leaders and followers (Locke & Latham in American Psychologist, 57, 705–717, 2002). Drawing upon the theory of role-making processes and a resource allocation framework, this study examined (a) how leaders’ goal setting activities interact with employees’ goal orientations and emotional exhaustion in predicting leader-member exchange (LMX), and (b) how LMX intervenes between goal-focused leadership and followers’ task performance. Hypotheses were tested using data collected from a sample of 187 leader-subordinate dyads from South Korea. Follower learning goal orientation (LGO) weakened the positive relationship between goal-focused leadership and LMX and, indirectly, task performance, contributing to the literature on goal orientations by revealing a “backfire effect” of LGO. Additionally, employee emotional exhaustion also reduced the positive relationship of goal-focused leadership to LMX and, ultimately, task performance. Integrating the theory of role-making processes from the LMX literature and a resource allocation perspective on self-regulation behavior, the present findings indicate that LMX is a key process through which goal-focused leadership relates to follower task performance. Furthermore, this study contributes to the goal-focused leadership literature by pointing out the importance of adopting an interactional perspective on leaders’ influence. Specifically, findings suggest that followers with divergent characteristics in terms of goal orientations and resourcefulness respond differently to leaders’ goal setting activities. This is one of the few studies that have examined the mechanisms and boundary conditions by which leaders’ goal-focused behaviors relate to followers’ task performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-660
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Business and Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.


  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Goal orientations
  • Goal-focused leadership
  • Leader-member exchange
  • Task performance


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