Leading from the inside out: a meta-analysis of how, when, and why self-leadership affects individual outcomes

Kevin Knotts, Jeffery D. Houghton, Craig L. Pearce, Huaizhong Chen, Greg L. Stewart, Charles C. Manz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Whereas the predominance of leadership research has focused upon top-down influence processes, we examine the process of leading from the inside out, i.e., self-leadership. Based on a meta-analysis of 57 effect sizes and 16,493 observations, the overall results suggest that self-leadership is positively and strongly related to individual outcomes (ρ = .38). Results also help to clarify when self-leadership is most effective relative to outcome type, showing a stronger relationship between self-leadership and creativity/innovation than between self-leadership and task performance. We further explore the incremental value of cognitive self-leadership strategies over and above basic behaviour-focused self-leadership. Our findings suggest that when individuals engage in cumulative self-leadership involving both behavioural and cognitive strategies, relationships with individual outcomes are stronger than when people employ behaviour-focused self-leadership alone. Finally, we explore a meta-analytic path model examining mediating mechanisms to clarify not only how but also why self-leadership influences outcomes of interest. Implications regarding the nature and importance of the mechanisms through which self-leadership is linked to outcomes and future directions for further advancing self-leadership theory and research are delineated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-291
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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