How humble leadership fosters employee innovation behavior: A two-way perspective on the leader-employee interaction

Fei Zhou, Yenchun Jim Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between humble leadership and employee innovation behavior and to investigate the mediating effects of core self-evaluation (CSE) and the moderating effects of leader political skill in this relationship. Design/methodology/approach: Questionnaire data from a sample of 169 employee-leader dyads from technology enterprises in China were employed in this research. Findings: The results show that humble leadership positively affects employee innovation behavior; moreover, employee CSE and leader political skills play partial mediating and moderating roles, respectively, in the relationship between humble leadership and employee innovation behavior. Research limitations/implications: This study considered only the positive role of humble leadership and not its negative effects in extreme cases, such as the perceived weakness and inferiority of a humble leader, which may inhibit leadership effectiveness. Future research may examine the excessive and/or negative effects of humble leadership in an organization. Practical implications: The findings of this study suggest that leaders should maintain humility, develop certain political skills, and enhance employee CSE to stimulate employee innovation behavior. Originality/value: Although humility has been understood as the core trait of servant leadership, level-five leadership and participative leadership, humble leadership as a new type of independent leadership style has yet to be thoroughly investigated. In particular, there is limited empirical research examining the link between humble leadership and employee innovation behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-387
Number of pages13
JournalLeadership and Organization Development Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes



  • Core self-evaluation
  • Employee innovation behaviour
  • Humble leadership
  • Leader political skill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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