Research is needed to understand the dynamics by which high-quality leader relationships have their productive effects on followers. This study proposes that these leader relationships do not simply induce compliance but encourage employees and managers to discuss their diverse views open-mindedly and constructively. Team leaders indicated leader–member relationship with employees who rated their constructive controversy and their team's effectiveness and feelings of respect, support, and reduced stress. Structural equation analysis suggested that leader–member relationship affects employee team productivity and emotions through constructive controversy. The study's findings and previous research were interpreted as suggesting that high-quality leader relationships coupled with constructive controversy provide a foundation for effective team leadership in China.