Innovation is one of most important way for each organization to creates competitive advantage (Greve & Taylor, 2000; Han et al., 1998; Li et al., 2018). Therefore, organizations alway try to encourage innovative behaviors, which are defined as “the intentional creation, introduction, and application of new ideas within a work role, group or organization, in order to benefit role performance, the group or the organization” (Janssen, 2000, p. 288). Among the many ways to to stimulate innovative behaviors, the role of leadership behavior cannot be ignored. Spiritual leadership is one of the most effective leadership styles (Afsar et al., 2016), which can encourage, inspire, and motivate employeess to innovate (Oldham & Cummings, 1996). We increasingly find that relying solely on external systems instead, it is better to use silent internal arousal to enhance employeess' enthusiasm and thus their innovative behavior. Based on the spiritual leadership theory and intrinsic motivation theory, we found that spiritual leadership strategies can inspire employeess’ intrinsic motivation to work harder and even reaching outside of their basic responsibilities, allowing them to coalesce to work together for the organization’ common interests. In recent years, spiritual leadership has been a hot topic in both management literature and organizational behavior research (Chen et al., 2019),, spirituality in the workplace and spiritual leadership with intrinsic motivation as a core tool has been gaining attention and promoted. Research has also shown that the strong inspirational and spiritual influence of spiritual leadership can motivate employeess to exhibit better work attitudes and behaviors(Chen, & Yang, 2012; Fry & Slocum, 2008; Fry et al., 2017; Salehzadeh et al., 2015; Tabor et al., 2019).
While there are some studies have examined the benefits of spiritual leadership for employeess, little research conducted on the psychological mechanisms linking spiritual leadership to employeess' innovative behavior from inner need perspective. In order to explore how spiritual leadership improve the innovative behaviors of employeess, this study drawn from spiritual leadership theory and instrinsic motivation theory to reveal the psychological mechanisms between spiritual leadership and the innovative behaviors of employeess. Spiritual leadership theory is based on intrinsic motivation theory (Fry, 2003), the key element of which is that spiritual leadership is considered an effective way to develop higher levels of organizational productivity, team creativity, and organizational learning (Aydin & Ceylan, 2009; Chen & Yang, 2012; Jurkiewicz & Giacalone, 2004).Leaders can motivate employeess to work harder by satisfying their basic needs for spiritual existence, which leads to higher levels of individual output (Fry, 2003; Fry & Kriger, 2009). Whereas psychological capital and intrinsic motivation belong to the psychological needs of employeess, spiritual leaders can improve the employees creative performance through their psychological capital and internal motivation. We not only presents a conceptual model on the psychological mechanisms between spiritual leadership and innovative behavior, but also intended to tap into the psychological capital and instrinsic motivation in the sequential mediating effect of spiritual leadership on individual innovative behavior. The study aims to deepen theoretical understanding of the mechanism of influence of spiritual leadership on individual innovative behaviors of employeess.
Spiritual Leadership and Innovative Behavior
Workplace spirituality plays a key role in firms’ creativity and innovation, it could make a positive impact on them. While spiritual leadership is one of the effective ways to develop workplace spirituality (Fry, 2008), which could promote innovative behaviors among employeess as also. Spiritual leadership is a leadership style that starts with effectively meeting the spiritual needs of employeess and matches them with intrinsic motivation to awaken member identification and mission (Fry, 2003), consisting of three dimensions: vision, hope and faith, and altruistic love. This means that the core essence of spiritual leadership is to motivate employeess to work hard from the inside out, and the impact on organizational development and individual effectiveness is subtle. Based on the spiritual leadership theory, spiritual leaders can make employeess perceive the motivation from the work itself and the organization by conveying a clear and inspiring vision, establishing positive and strong hopes and beliefs to employeess. Specifically, spiritual leaders pay attention to employeess' work, motivate them to go beyond their jobs, which constitutes an important background of innovative behavior (Jung et al., 2003). At the same time, spiritual leaders are selfless, the work atmosphere under the influence of spiritual leaders is harmonious and altruistic,which also gives employeess more room to play, forming an intangible intrinsic motivation that helps employeess improve their innovative behavior. In other words, spiritual leadership’ characteristics, such as integrity, honesty, altruism, and genuine concern for others (Fry, 2003; Reave, 2005), can allow them to focus on the development of employeess and can satisfy their basic psychological need for safety and make them more likely to generate new ideas and try them out (Hogan & Coote, 2014). Therefore, we hypothesize that
Spiritual leadership is positively related to employeess’ innovative behavior.
The Mediating Role of Psychological Capital
Leaders do not directly affect employeess' behaviors, but indirectly through cognitive and psychological processes (Strauss, et al., 2009; Cho & Dansereau, 2010). Psychological capital, which refers to the state of positive psychological development of individuals characterized by self-efficacy, optimism, hope, and resilience (Luthans et al., 2007). According to spiritual leadership theory, spiritual leadership, as a type of leadership that pays high attention to the feelings of followers(Yang et al., 2020), is able to build great visions for employeess to aspire to, help them set goals to strive for, and have confidence in them during their work process, thus satisfying followers' spiritual existence basic needs, such as pursuing excellence, being different, and being appreciated by others, which will enhances followers' psychological capital elements such as self-efficacy and hope. Moreover, psychological capital is an important predictor of individual behavior. Studies have found that individuals' positive psychological states significantly predict their positive work behaviors (Avey et al., 2010; Luthans et al., 2010). At the same time, psychological capital play a mediating role in leadership style and positive organizational output. For example, Gooty (2009) found that psychological capital mediates between transformational leadership and organizational citizenship behaviors. Therefore, we suggest that spiritual leadership can also influence followers' innovative behavior by enhancing their psychological capital levels and thus their innovative behavior. Hence, the following hypothesis is
Psychological capital plays a mediating role in spiritual leadership and innovative behavior.
The Mediating Role of Intrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic motivation refers to doing something for oneself in order to experience the pleasure and satisfaction inherent in the activity (Vallerand, 1997). Based on the intrinsic motivation theory, spiritual leaders can enhance followers’ intrinsic motivation to work hard for organization by communicating a clear and uplifting vision, building strong and positive hopes and beliefs. Besides, work meaningfulness is an important factor influencing employeess' intrinsic motivation (Hackman and Oldham, 1976). On the one hand, spiritual leadership can motivate employeess by portraying a vision of the organization that their work can makes a difference to individuals, organization, and society as a whole, which can greatly enhance sense of meaningfulness and thus intrinsic motivation. On the other hand, spiritual leadership focus on empowering their subordinates (Yaghoubi et al., 2010), which can enhance their subordinates' experienced responsibility for work outcomes and thus intrinsic motivation (Thomas,& Velthouse, 1990; Hackman,& Oldham;1976).
Intrinsic motivation is one of the most critical factors influencing employees innovative behaviors (Klaeijsen et al., 2018; Devloo et al., 2015; Fischerv et al, 2019), and individuals intrinsically motivated to innovate are more likely to exhibit high levels of creativity(Kong, et al.,2019). Liu et al (2016) meta-analysis showed that intrinsic motivation significantly and positively affects employeess’ creative performance (De Jesus et al.,2013;Cerasoli et al.,2014). Messman and Mulder (2014) also demonstrated empirically that employees intrinsic motivation has a positive relationship with individual innovative behavior. Based on the intrinsic motivation theory, when individuals possesses intrinsic motivation to engage in an activity, they will show greater interest, excitement, and confidence. At the same time, they will perform at a better level, have better performance, show more perseverance and unique creativity. Hence, we propose the following hypothesis:
Intrinsic motivation plays a mediating role in spiritual leadership and innovative behavior.
The Sequential Mediating Roles of Psychological Capital and Intrinsic Motivatio
Combining the above assumptions and the spiritual leadership theory, the influences of spiritual leadership on the individual output through satisfying their basic needs for spiritual existence (Fry, 2007). Spiritual leadership can enhance employeess’ psychological capital by conveying hope, thus motivating them to innovate intrinsically (Sweetman et al., 2011). Employeess with higher psychological capital are more confident in their work, have higher self-efficacy and higher intrinsic motivation to accomplish their goals. Individuals with intrinsic motivation show more interests and confidence than those with external motivation, which are in turn reflected on the improvement of creativity (Sheldon, Ryan, Rawsthorne, & Ilardi, 1997) and show more innovative behaviors (Devloo, Anseel, De Beuckelaer, & Salanova, 2015). Therefore, we argue that spiritual leadership can improved followers’ innovative behavior by increasing the level of psychological capital of employeess, which in turn activates their intrinsic level of motivation and ultimately leads to improved their innovative behaviors. Accordingly, we propose the following hypothesis:
Psychological capital and intrinsic motivation sequentially mediate in spiritual leadership and innovative behavior.
In summary, the theoretical model is shown in Figure 1.