Leading From Different Psychological Distances: A Construal-Level Perspective on Vision Communication, Goal Setting, and Follower Motivation

Leading From Different Psychological Distances: A Construal-Level Perspective on Vision Communication, Goal Setting, and Follower Motivation

By
Yair Berson, Nir Halevy, Boas Shamir, Miriam Erez
The Leadership Quarterly. April
2015, Vol. 26, Issue 2, Pages 143-155

How should leaders construct and communicate their messages to most effectively motivate their employees? We offer an integrative framework to address the diverging and complementary nature of two established approaches to employee motivation: Vision communication and goal setting. Specifically, while vision communication involves formulating relatively abstract, far-reaching, and timeless messages, effective goal setting involves formulating specific, challenging and time-constrained objectives. Building on construal level theory of psychological distance, we argue that the experience of construal fit between the attributes of a message and the attributes of the situation will enhance its motivational effectiveness. We present a framework that addresses when visions and goals achieve construal fit and explains why and how construal fit leads to increased follower motivation. We discuss different approaches to integrating visions and goals, propose directions for future research, and illustrate how the notion of construal fit may be used for explaining key organizational phenomena.