Workplace Intimacy in Leader–Follower Relationships

Ronit Kark

in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199734610
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Workplace Intimacy in Leader–Follower Relationships

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  • Psychology
  • Organizational Psychology
  • Social Psychology



Traditional leadership theories and management practices tend to distinguish between the public sphere (e.g., organizations and the workplace) characterized by control, instrumentality, and rationality, and the private sphere (the home), characterized by emotionality, spontaneity, and intimate personal relationships. Recently, new models of relational leadership have emerged. Within this stream, in this chapter, I explore the links between leadership and intimacy in the organizational context. Drawing on the psychological literature, I define the concept of workplace intimacy, present its different components, and examine how it may be enacted in the field of leadership and management. Then I present the processes of exchange (e.g., communal exchange) and identity shifts (e.g., the relational self-concept) that may underlie the development of workplace intimacy. Last, I suggest a wide array of workplace intimacy outcomes at the individual and group level and point to directions for further exploration, empirical research, and re-visioning of the leadership and management field as one that can foster meaningful, pleasurable, and valuable mutual relationships with followers.

Keywords: Keywords; :; Relational leadership; post-heroic leadership; workplace intimacy; communal exchange; instrumental exchange; relational self-concept

Article.  11554 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Organizational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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