Leader loneliness by choice? The ironic role of segmentation preference (Idea Pitch)
Workplace loneliness, defined as the subjective feeling of social disconnectedness, has undesirable consequences to individual employees, teams, and organisations. While the saying “loneliness is part of leadership” has become an anecdotal piece of wisdom, limited work has explored the role of leaders’ own work mindsets. Drawing on the boundary management literature, we hypothesised that segmentation preference, the desire to maintain clear, rigid boundaries between work and life domains, affects leader loneliness in two different ways: a preference to keep private and work aspects apart would have a direct, negative relationship with loneliness, because this preference managed leaders’ expectations of forming close relationships at work. However, there may be an indirect, positive link to loneliness. Specifically, leaders would feel lonelier if their segmentation preferences make them feel less authentic at work. We further proposed that subjective power would play a moderating role in the indirect path. Results from a pilot online survey study of 166 managers supported most of our predictions. Yet, subjective power did not mitigate the link between segmentation preference and felt authenticity.
In this presentation, I would like to seek your feedback on:
(1) the experiment we are designing to replicate the survey findings; and
(2) conceptually relevant moderator(s) that could explain the opposite relationships between segmentation preference and leader loneliness.