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A Hidden Cost of Loneliness: People May Be Reluctant To Lead
Despite having the qualities needed to become a leader, many people are reluctant to embrace leadership. We suggest that feelings of disconnectedness, and the lack of close connections at the workplace will deter people from assuming leadership roles. Through a survey of employees and their supervisors (n = 812), we find that feelings of loneliness are associated with a lower willingness to lead, and with the failure to embrace a leader identity. We also find that increasing social distance from colleagues at the workplace, is negatively associated with envisioning oneself as a leader. The lower leader self-efficacy that emerges because of feelings of isolation and lack of closeness to colleagues mediates the results. Contributing to the literature on the factors impeding the emergence of leaders, we uncover the importance of fostering close human connections to motivate people to lead. Fostering a sense of connectedness in organizations might be relevant, not only for the wellbeing of its members, but also for the emergence of leaders and their effectiveness.