Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) Quality


The paper comprehensively examines how the burnout, role conflict, and employee engagement mediate the relationship between leader-follower exchange (LMX) quality and job satisfaction and turnover intentions. An organization shows a profound need to ascertain the demand in the significance of leadership towards the employees’ well-being and performance in their functions. The LMX is advanced through leadership perceptions that enhance the attitudes of a leader towards the employees and the organization. Studies show that the LMX quality is fundamental to objective task performance creating positive implications on the competitiveness and productivity of the employees in the workplace. The capacity of leaders to develop different quality relationships with those they manage and lead is paramount to positive impacts on the task performance capabilities and efficiency of the employees.

The summary of the LMX relationship with employee competence analysis depicts the LMX quality as the independent variable impacting on the productivity of the workforce. The dependent variables influenced by the LMX quality culminate in job satisfaction and turnover intentions among the employees. The dependent variables present positive or negative implications of the LMX quality. To mediate the impacts of the LMX quality – burnout, role conflict, and the leadership quality profoundly influences employee engagement in an organization. Hence, LMX relationship with task objective performance determines the positive or negative implications it has on their productivity in the workplace.

Mediation of the Relationship Between LMX Quality and Job Satisfaction and Turnover Intentions


The burnout tendency among the employees depicts the occurrence of overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed, and fatigued employees. This shows a potential breakdown of employees who are characterized by tensions and weariness. A profound need of improving the plight and status of the employees within an organization is paramount to enhance their productivity and performance capacity. A lack of adequate measures on the burnout tendency of the employees culminates in a total breakdown – a culture that wears off the rest of the workforce leading to increased turnover intentions. The mitigation of the burnout factor is fundamental to minimize the adverse implications on the employee performance within the organization.

The increase in competitiveness of the employees requires them to positively look for efficient working conditions and welfare that increases the task performance capacity. According to Lee et al. (2017, 24), “LMX ambivalence is negatively associated with employee task performance.” This culminates into the fact that “ambivalence identification has incremental predictive validity beyond that of identification and dis-identification aspects of predicting employee burnout, stress, and turnover intentions but not deviant behavior or organizational citizenship behavior (OCB)” (Lee et al., 2017, 24). The burnout prevalence in the LMX ambivalence results in the negative aspects of turnover intentions and undermines job satisfaction. The capacity to improve the LMX quality is fundamental to transform the negative impacts of burnout associated with the LMX ambivalence into a positive (Anand et al., 2016). This is fundamental to the strength of the organization that can enhance value proposition among the employees in an organization. Hence, it proves to be integral in the task performance and competitiveness of an organization.

Role Conflict

The existence of LMX ambivalence in an organization leads to the prevalence of inconsistency and conflicting thoughts that undermine the relationship between the leaders and those they manage (the followers) (Lee et al., 2017). The conflicting views within the leadership result in aversive feelings of the employees limiting their task performance, productivity, and commitment to the organization. This interferes with the workers’ capacity to perform well within the workplace resulting in negative implications of employee turnover intentions (Lee et al., 2015). The job satisfaction levels are impossible to attain owing to the fact that conflicting perceptions regarding the LMX relationship are regarded as unfavorable in the organization.

Lee et al. (2015, 923) note that the prevalence of “low self-esteem maintenance results in the attitudes that posit the need for one to defend themself against internal conflicts.” The role conflict advanced by LMX ambivalence shows a breakdown of the system that do not clearly understand the objective of the organization (Lee et al., 2017). This makes it difficult for the employees to commit to a failed system that creates conflicting cognitions within the workplace. The role conflict within the organization affects the attitudes, emotional intelligence, and perceptions of the employees in the workplace (Yu et al., 2018). In turn, the tendency to believe in the leaders or the leadership approaches becomes eroded. This induces adverse implications in the task performance and productivity of the employees that are less concerned with the operations of the organization (Lee et al., 2017). The role conflict advanced by the leaders indicates a lack of understanding, connection to the organization and the employees, and the existence of a defunct void of non-productivity and value proposition to the employees. Hence, it results in high turnover intentions among the employees.

According to Martin et al. (2016, 17), “the common mediators include job role clarity, trust, satisfaction, commitment, motivation, and empowerment.” These are key to the LMX relationship, and the follow perceptions of their leaders and their leadership styles. The role conflict, role clarity, and role ambiguity determine the attitudes and relationships of the followers and the leaders. The LMX determines the capacity to handle role conflict impacting on the significance and ability of trust among the employees (Martin et al., 2016). The adverse implications experienced as a result of role conflict undermines the potential of trust in the workplace. Hence, job satisfaction is eroded and increase turnover intentions in the workplace. Thus, “high LMX variation is associated with increased relationship conflict that induces negative effects on the team and respective employees in the workplace” (Martin et al., 2018, 157).

Employee Engagement

The employee engagement in the workplace is fundamental to determine their perceptions and influence to each other. This culminates in raising the tendency in which employees enable one another to remain competitive in task performance and productivity in the workplace. Martin et al. (2016, 8) assert that “LMX exerts a greater influence that leads to positive work behaviors, as well as, less engagement in the negative, i.e., counterproductive performance in the workplace.” The LMX quality profoundly enhances the capacity to address arising issues that risk harming how the follower engages the leaders in the organization (Lee et al., 2017). In order to curb the potential fallout between the leaders and the employees, – precise approaches to their engagement are essential to induce positive implications on the task performance and productivity in the organization (Rockstuhl et al., 2012). Contrary, the adverse approaches to leaders and the employees’ commitments undermine the productivity of the organization (Martin et al., 2018). Thus, results in the nature of relationships vital with the LMX critical to job satisfaction or turnover intentions among the employees.

According to Lee et al. (2015, 911), “it is important for leaders to understand the process that followers engage in when interpreting their behaviors.” Further, Lee et al. (2015, 911) argue that “if leaders understand that their follower’s perceptions are attitudes (and not simple evaluations), then they can develop an insight into how these attitudes form and how to change them.” The understanding of the employees’ engagement within the organization is paramount to the future operations and competitiveness of the organization (Breevaart et al., 2015). This presents a distinguishing feature of leadership that places a high emphasis on the relationship and engagement of the employees towards the LMX application. In turn, it impacts on developing positive trends that good and productive relationship between the leaders and the employees (Lee et al., 2017). Thus, a close relationship as a result of employee engagement results in increased cooperation, collaboration, and positive perceptions and attitudes in the workplace (Martin et al., 2018). Therefore, high levels of job satisfaction can be experienced as opposed to turnover intentions.

Role of Social Support

The social support plays an integral role in enhancing the value and significance of LMX in an organization. The application and running of social support within the organization are fundamental to create a buffer to the LMX ambivalence and task performance relationship (Lee et al., 2017). This is critical to transforming adverse implications into a positive that raises the competitiveness of the employees in task performance and productivity in the organization. The social support of coworkers turns the LMX ambivalence that undermines the cooperation and engagement of the employees by resolving the problems and arising issues (Lee et al., 2015).

In a study by Lee et al. (2017, 21), shows results of the fact that “high levels of support nullified the relationship between the LMX ambivalence and negative affect, supporting our cross-domain buffering hypothesis – which posited that social support from coworkers would ameliorate the negative consequences of an ambivalent leader-follower relationship.” According to Lee et al. (2017, 23), “the presence of high levels of social support negates the normally negative effect of LMX ambivalence on task performance.”

The significance of coworkers’ social support is fundamental in mitigating the adverse effects of LMX ambivalence. This places a high need to champion of the social support among the coworkers to create an opportunity that allows them to work cooperatively and collaboratively. The social support is integral in enhancing the strengths and resolving the weaknesses of workers in an organization. The increase of productivity and performance in the workplace is a result of concerted efforts that seek to achieve the optimum objectives for the organization (Martin et al., 2018). The leaders’ contextualization of social support helps in mitigating the potential implications of LMX ambivalence that undermines the system and employee productivity. The social support places a mechanism in which coworkers can make an engagement to complement each other (Caniëls & Hatak, 2019). Thus, enhance the task performance among the employees – an affirmative value proposition of LMX relationship with social support. Therefore, impact positively on job satisfaction and reduce turnover intentions among the employees within an organization.

LMX Ambivalence and Coworker Support

The LMX ambivalence shows the existence of high-levels of inconsistency, uncertainty, and contradictions between the leaders-follower exchange relationship. This culminates in negative impacts as the approach undermines the potential of the relationship leaders have with their subordinates (Lee et al., 2017). The negative relationship results in unhealthy operations and task performance, which is impossible without proper mitigation of the leaders. The LMX ambivalence shows a breakdown in leadership and ineffective approaches utilized to manage the attitudes, including the content, structure, and functions of the workers. Thus, negatively affect work-related outcomes in an organization (Lee et al., 2015)

The capacity of leaders to develop a positive relationship with those they manage is paramount to task performance and productivity of employees. This is impossible with the prevalence of LMX ambivalence as it continuously makes the leader-follower relationship uses. The leaders are more committed to the failure and incompetence of the employees than the progress, development, and competitiveness (Mushonga, 2018). The leadership is the highest impediment to the performance of the employees in an organization. To transform the adverse effects of LMX ambivalence – leaders ought to adopt new practices that encourage fairness and competitiveness among the employees (Martin et al., 2016). The support of the employees by their leaders is paramount to the success of the organization. The mandate of leaders is to provide an efficient work environment and conditions for the improvement of the employees. Thus, the positive influence of leaders is essential to task performance and competitiveness of the organization.

LMX and Task Performance

Martin et al. (2016) compare the prevalence of high and low LMX relationship to the positive and negative work behaviors. The high LMX relationships induce the potential of the followers in an organization to commit their energy in the feeling of obligation to pay back the leaders’ value proposition (Lee et al., 2019). This promotes the followers’ commitment by their ability to meet the work demands making it less likely for them to engage in activities and behaviors that can potentially harm the organization of the leader (Martin et al., 2018). The culminating effect impacts the increased performance of the employees in the workplace, enhanced by positive relationships. Leaders have a responsibility to build and nurture relationships in the workplace – vital to team performance, employee support, and productivity.

The low LMX relationship in the workplace induces negative perceptions of unfair treatments by the leaders and inequity practices. This impacts in harming the leader and the organization as employees have the opportunity to engage in different counterproductive behaviors (Martin et al., 2018). The overall effect on the performance of the employees indicates a prevalence of a negative relationship with the leaders. This results in counterproductive behaviors. This eliminates the occurrence of job satisfaction, with turnover intentions increasing in the workplace. Task performance becomes impossible in low LMX relationships – creating an uncertain future for the organization and leaders.


In conclusion, the LMX quality shapes and determines the relationship between the leaders and the followers. A positive correlation between the two levels is fundamental for the increased performance of an organization. Leaders hold the key to influencing positive or negative implications in the organization. Therefore, proper and effective measures to enhance the LMX quality in an organization are vital to the subsequent performance and competitiveness of the employees.

The research-based on Lee et al. (2015), Lee et al. (2017), Martin et al. (2016), and Martin et al. (2018) show the profound variance in the significance of LMX in managing the leader-follower relationship. The application of mediators such as burnout, role conflict, employee engagement, and social support is found to impact differently on task performance. The burnout mediation factor enhances the potential of employee turnover intentions. This is because the LMX shows a failure to effect on the well-being and fairness among the employees positively. The lack of capacity to resolve burnout causes among the employees indicates the collapse of the leadership.

The role conflict, employee engagement, and social support are critical mediation factors that influence positive change in the leader-follower relationship. The role conflict utilizes the LMX to avert the adverse implications of the organization. However, LMX ambivalence escalates the role of conflict with negative impacts on the organization. On the contrary, employee engagement and social support induce positive effects on the performance of the organization, employees, and leaders. The social support negates the adverse implications of LMX ambivalence, turning them into competitive features in the organization. Thus, positive developments and task performance are possible in the organization.

Finally, research indicates that LMX ambivalence induces enormous negative impacts on the leader-follower relationship. The erosion of the leader-follower relationship depicts a lack of cooperation, ethical conduct, and behavior among the employees. This has a direct impact on high employee turnover intentions and shallow satisfaction in the workplace. This makes it profoundly difficult for trust to prevail between the leaders and the followers. The lack of commitment is high, as there is no loyalty to the organization or the leader. Such tendencies advance the negative implications of the organization’s task performance and competitiveness. Thus, LMX ambivalence undermines the potential of both the employees and the organization.




Anand, S., Vidyarthi, P. R., & Park, H. S. (2016). LMX differentiation: Understanding relational leadership at individual and group levels. The Oxford handbook of leader-member exchange.

Breevaart, K., Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., & van den Heuvel, M. (2015). Leader-member exchange, work engagement, and job performance. Journal of Managerial Psychology.

Caniëls, M. C., & Hatak, I. (2019). Employee resilience: considering both the social side and the economic side of leader-follower exchanges in conjunction with the dark side of followers’ personality. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 1-32.

Lee, A., Martin, R., Thomas, G., Guillaume, Y., & Maio, G. R. (2015). Conceptualizing leadership perceptions as attitudes: Using attitude theory to further understand the leadership process. The Leadership Quarterly26(6), 910-934.

Lee, A., Thomas, G., Martin, R., & Guillaume, Y. (2017). Leader-member exchange (LMX) ambivalence and task performance: The cross-domain buffering role of social support. Journal of Managementxx(x), 1-31.

Lee, A., Thomas, G., Martin, R., Guillaume, Y., & Marstand, A. F. (2019). Beyond relationship quality: The role of leader–member exchange importance in leader–follower dyads. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology92(4), 736-763.

Martin, R., Thomas, G., Guillaume, Y., Lee, A. & Epitropaki, O. (2016). Leader-member exchange (LMX) and Performance: A Meta-Analytic Review. Personnel Psychology, 69, 67-121.

Martin, R., Thomas, G., Legood, A., & Dello Russo, S. (2018). Leader-member exchange (LMX) differentiation and work outcomes: Conceptual clarification and critical review. Journal of Organizational Behavior39(2), 151-168.

Mushonga, S. M. (2018). Why Trust Matters: The Moderation of Affective Trust in the Relationship between LMX and Work Outcomes. SAM Advanced Management Journal83(3), 30.

Rockstuhl, T., Dulebohn, J. H., Ang, S., & Shore, L. M. (2012). Leader–member exchange (LMX) and culture: A meta-analysis of correlates of LMX across 23 countries. Journal of applied psychology97(6), 1097.

Yu, A., Matta, F. K., & Cornfield, B. (2018). Is leader–member exchange differentiation beneficial or detrimental for group effectiveness? A meta-analytic investigation and theoretical integration. Academy of Management Journal61(3), 1158-1188.

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