Taking Stock of Leader-Member Relationships (Case Study 1)

A Critical Leadership Component for Women’s Retention and Advancement

Conduct “relationship audits” to periodically measure the quality of the leader-member relationships in your organization. This information will allow you to benchmark the relationships and track changes in response to your deliberate attempts to improve them. The following survey items can help you accomplish these tasks. They are adapted from those used in research where the benefits of positive leader-member relationships (LMX) were documented. When you review your results, think about whether pairings of different sexes or races achieve high quality LMX. If quality is low or lower for mixed pairs, steps should be taken to help leaders enhance their skills in communicating respect and building trust.

The first set of questions is based on those most used in LMX research. Responses to the following questions may use a 6-point scale where 1=strongly disagree, 2=somewhat disagree, 3=slightly disagree, 4=slightly agree, 5=somewhat agree, 6=strongly agree, and N/A indicates not applicable.

Alternatively, researchers recently suggested rating leader-member relationships on a series of criteria such as the following:
My relationship with my […] is

  • Very effective, somewhat effective, slightly effective, slightly ineffective, somewhat ineffective, very ineffective

  • Very warm, somewhat warm, slightly warm, slightly cold, somewhat cold, very cold

  • Very flexible, somewhat flexible, slightly flexible, slightly inflexible, somewhat inflexible, very inflexible

  • Very strong, somewhat strong, slightly strong, slightly weak, somewhat weak, very weak

  • Very cooperative, somewhat cooperative, slightly cooperative, slightly uncooperative, somewhat uncooperative, very uncooperative

  • Very fair, somewhat fair, slightly fair, slightly unfair, somewhat unfair, very unfair

  • Very productive, somewhat productive, slightly productive, slightly unproductive, somewhat unproductive, very unproductive



  • Van Breukelen, W., Schyns, B., & Le Blanc, P. (2006). Leader-member exchange theory and research: Accomplishments and future challenges. Leadership, 2(3), 295-316.

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Authors: J. McGrath Cohoon