B. Parker Ellen, Gerald R. Ferris and M. Ronald Buckley
Given that organizations have been classified as political arenas, and that political will and skill are necessary for managerial success, leaders often must behave politically in order to succeed within organizational environments. However, despite a growing body of work on leader political skill, relatively little research has addressed the actual political behavior of leaders. Explanations for this gap in the leadership and organizational politics literatures have focused on the apparent paradox between the other-centered concept of leadership and the self-interested nature of political behavior. Recently, leader political support, which captures leaders’ political behavior on behalf of others (i.e. their followers), has been introduced in effort to address this gap. In this chapter, we extend conceptual thinking on leader political support, and argue that it can be considered a form of prosocial leader behavior. Following a brief overview of the construct, and an explanation of the characteristics that link it to forms of prosocial behavior, we use existing research on prosocial motivation to explore the possible motives for leaders’ political behavior in support of followers before offering some potential avenues for future inquiry. We hope this broadened perspective on leaders’ political behavior will inspire additional future research on leader political support.