When Leaders Are Not Who They Appear: The Effects of Leader Disclosure of a Concealable Stigma on Follower Reactions
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Two studies examined follower reactions to disclosure of concealable stigma (i.e., transgender identity) by a leader. Using 109 employed participants, Study 1 showed followers rated leaders disclosing a stigma less likable and effective. This effect was both direct and indirect through relational identification with the leader. Using 206 employed participants, Study 2 found when a leader's stigma was involuntarily found out and disclosed later they received lower ratings of likability and effectiveness compared to leaders who voluntarily came out and disclosed earlier. Method (found out vs. came out) and timing of disclosure (later vs. earlier) had direct relationships with ratings of likability and effectiveness and method of disclosure had an indirect relationship with the outcomes via relational identification.