Ethical Leadership and Followers' Emotional Exhaustion: Exploring the Roles of Three Types of Emotional Labor toward Leaders in South Korea.Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 10 15; 18(20)IJ
Employees' emotional exhaustion caused by their leaders has significant consequences for both individuals and organizations. Identifying the roles of intra-organizational emotional labor is important to prevent employees' emotional exhaustion. This study examined the relationships between ethical leadership, followers' emotional labor toward leaders, and emotional exhaustion using Hobfoll's conservation of resources theory. Data collected from 259 employees working in South Korea were analyzed using regression and SEM. The results indicate that ethical leadership was negatively related to followers' emotional exhaustion. It is demonstrated that ethical leadership has a significant indirect relationship with followers' emotional exhaustion through three types of emotional labor strategies; genuine display, faked display, and suppressed display. Through genuine display and suppressed display, ethical leadership had an indirect and negative relationship with followers' emotional exhaustion, whereas ethical leadership and followers' emotional exhaustion showed a positive indirect relationship through faked display. We discuss the implications and limitations of this research and future research directions.