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- v.6(4); 2020 Apr
Leadership styles, work engagement and outcomes among information and communications technology professionals: A cross-national study
Habtamu kebu gemeda.
a Adama Science & Technology University, School of Humanity & Social Sciences, Ethiopia
b Pusan National University, Keumjeong-Gu, Jangjeon-Dong, San 30, Busan, 609-735, South Korea
The present study examined relationships among leadership styles, work engagement and work outcomes designated by task performance and innovative work behavior among information and communication technology professionals in two countries: Ethiopia and South Korea. In total, 147 participants from Ethiopia and 291 from South Korea were made to fill in the self-reporting questionnaire intended to assess leadership styles, work engagement, task performance, and innovative work behavior. To test the proposed hypotheses, multiple linear regression analysis was utilized. The results showed that transformational leadership style had a significant positive relationship with employees' work engagement and innovative work behavior, while transactional leadership style had a significant positive relationship with employees' task performance. However, laissez-faire leadership style had a significant negative relationship with task performance. Work engagement had significant positive relationships with the indicators of work outcomes. Besides, work engagement partially mediated the relationship between leadership styles and work outcomes. The observed associations and mediation were consistent across the two national samples considered, indicating the soundness of the assumptions across countries. The findings provide insights into how leadership styles correspond with employees’ work outcomes.
Leadership; Workplace; innovation; Performance; industry; Organization; Human Resources; work engagement; transformation; transaction, Technology Management; Organizational Theory; Human Resource Management; Behavioral Psychology; Organizational Psychology
Leadership is crucial for effective functioning of any organization. The fundamental of leadership is its persuading power on human resources, organizations' source of competitive advantage, and the resultant outcomes. In swaying followers and harnessing organization member's selves to their work roles, leaders must enhance employees' motivation as having engaged employees is critical for organization to achieve its goal ( Batista-Taran et al., 2009 ). Studies, (e.g., Bakker and Bal, 2010 ; Harter et al., 2002 ; Xathopoulou et al., 2009 ) recorded the noteworthiness of employees' work engagement for organizational achievement measured in terms of monetary returns, productivity, client satisfaction, and a number of individual-level alluring employees' characteristics such as taking initiative and being proactive.
Literature (e.g. Bakker and Demerouti, 2008 ; Kim, 2014 ; Park et al., 2013 ; Saks, 2006 ; Salanova et al., 2011 ; Salanova and Schaufeli, 2008 ; Schaufeli and Bakker, 2004 ; Song et al., 2012 ; Xathopoulo et al., 2007 ) studied employee engagement within the framework of its antecedents and consequences using mainly the job demand-resources model, social exchange theory, social cognitive theory, and leadership theory. In the plethora of studies examining the correlates of employee engagement, particularly in Western and some Asian contexts, the most discussed antecedents included job resources, personal resources, perceived supports, learning organizations, and transformational leadership, while the personal-level outcomes considered were performance, turnover intention, organizational citizenship behavior, health, proactive behavior, innovative behavior, and knowledge creation practices. In spite of significant empirical studies on associates of work engagement, little research have been found that explored the potential link between leadership behaviors and employee engagement in the wider human resources literature ( Carasco-Saul et al., 2015 ).
Thus, the current study focused on examining relationships among leadership styles, employee work engagement and work outcomes. Leadership was targeted because previous research (e.g. Xu and Thomas, 2011 ; Carasco-Saul et al., 2015 ) also elucidated scarcity of findings that connect leadership styles and employees work engagement. Further, the dominant capacity of leadership over other work variables and its vulnerability to modifications were taken into consideration in its selection as correlates of work engagement and outcomes. For workoutcomes, employees' job performance and innovative work behavior were considered because of their pertinence to organizational existence and progress. Job performance is the term that academics and practitioners use most commonly and widely. Nonetheless, an aggregate definition of success across jobs and roles is very difficult to conceptualize since employees are engaged in a large number of tasks including even those not listed out in their formal job description ( Demerouti and Cropanzano, 2010 ). On the basis of review of previous studies, Kim (2014) outlined various ways of conceptualizing job performance ranging from overall performance to organizational citizenship behaviour. In the present study, as indicator of employees' job performance, in-role performance is conceptualized as accomplishment of core tasks and activities specified in employee contract document connected to officially defined organizational outcomes (( Demerouti and Cropanzano, 2010 ). In addition to performing main tasks officially listed out, considering the current competitive work environment, employees are pressed to go extra mile beyond those formally recognized in their job description such as being innovative in their workplace. As Ramoorthy et al. (2005) suggested, to succeed organizations are pressuring employees to innovate their methods and operations. Janssen (2000) was of the view that to have a continuous flow of innovation and to achieve goals, individual employees need to be skilled to innovate. What is more, employees’ innovative work behavior is comprehended as a specific form of extra-role performance related to discretionary employee actions in connection to generating idea, promoting, and realizing it.
In spite of evidences on the relationship between styles of leadership and work outcomes such as job performance and innovative work behavior (e.g., Khan et al., 2012 ; Solomon, 2016 ), studies explored the meditational role of work engagement in the link between leadership and work outcomes were insignificant. In connection to work engagement mediation between leadership behaviour and work outcomes, findings of the study are directing to quality of leader-subordinate relationships ( Agarwal et al., 2012 ), transformational leadership ( Salanova et al., 2011 ) and employees affective commitment to their immediate supervisor ( Chughtai, 2013 ) as antecedent factors.
Thus, specifically, in the present study the researchers proposed and tested a model in which work engagement partly mediates relationship between leadership styles (focusing on the pattern of behavior of leaders’ exhibited) and work outcomes labelled by task performance and innovative work behavior. Hence, the conceptual model used in the study is depicted in Figure 1 .
Besides, the study also examined the associations among variables of the study and the mediation of work engagement in link between leaders’ style and work outcomes in two independent samples of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals from Ethiopia and South Korea to test for soundness of suggested assumptions across the nations.
2. An overview of the study context
The participants of the study were professional ICT staffs working for for-profit companies engaged in ICT businesses in the two countries: Ethiopia and South Korea. Ethiopia is situated in the Horn of Africa; it has the second biggest populace in the continent, with more than 102 million occupants; however it has the most minimal per capita income ( Ethiopia, 2018 ). Be that as it may, Ethiopia's economy has developed at a remarkable rate over the previous decade. As the International Monetary Fund (2016) revealed, the nation has had a great record of achievement of development and poverty decrease lately and it is portrayed as one of the fastest developing economies on the planet.
With respect to Ethiopia's work culture, on the continuum of Hofstede's dimensions of culture—power distance, collectivism vs. individualism, femininity vs. masculinity, and uncertainty avoidance—it is characterized by a large power distance, tight social ties and collective action, masculine characteristics, and high uncertainty avoidance ( Beyene et al., 2016 ). Thus, in Ethiopian work culture, it appeared that power centralization is prevalent. Subordinates inclined to be told what to do and managers are expected to be influential and powerful. However, as Wasbeek (2004) indicated, individualism, masculinity, and a long-term orientation have been budding, specifically among the young and educated employees in Ethiopia.
South Korea, on the other hand, is an East Asian country on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula and is home to more than 51 million people. South Korea is the fourth biggest economy in Asia and the eleventh biggest on the planet ( South Korea, 2018 ).
When South Korean culture is examined, regarding power distance, it is a slightly hierarchical society with a collectivist nature and feminine as South Koreans are low on masculine/feminine dimension. Regarding uncertainty avoidance, South Korea might be taken as one of the most uncertainty avoiding countries, where people show a convincing enthusiastic prerequisite for rules, value time, and have an internal tendency to be involved and buckle down. Besides, South Korea's score on long-term orientation is at 100, showing that it is a highly pragmatic and long-term-oriented society ( Compare Countries—Hofstede Insights, n.d. ).
Nevertheless, as Yim (2002) indicated, Korean customary culture has in slight change, and to some level giving way to Western influx. Rapid socioeconomic transformation and the apparently indiscriminate inflow of Western culture were accounted for the change.
3. Previous research and hypotheses
3.1. leadership styles and work-related outcomes.
Leadership is the most commonly discussed topic in the organizational sciences. Lines of research may be delineated along three major approaches: trait, behavioral and inspirational. Trait theorists seek to identify a set of universal leadership traits whereas behaviorists focused on behaviors exhibited by specific leaders. Inspirational approach deliberated on leader as one who moves adherents through their words, thoughts and conduct ( Robbins et al., 2009 ). As Carasco-Saul et al. (2015) suggested in the 1970s and 1980s, the charismatic leadership concept emerged, emphasizing that a charisma leader, a leader who inspires, attracts and influences followers by their personal qualities are considered effective. A typical characteristic of charismatic leadership is that it has the ability to motivate subordinates to concede to goals by imparting a vision, displaying charming behavior, and being a powerful model.
As part of neo-charismatic movement, full range leadership theory, which is also referred to as the Full Range Leadership Theory of Bass and Avolio's distinguished three groups of leaders in behaviors/styles: transformational, transactional and laissez-faire ( Avolio et al., 1999 ; Bass and Riggio, 2006 ; Judge and Piccolo, 2004 ; Solomon, 2016 ). The theory defines a complete range of influencing styles from influential transformational leadership to laissez-faire style.
Based on a review of various studies, Vincent-Hoper et al. (2012) portrayed transformational leaders as managers who advance and propel their followers by anticipating and communicating appealing visions, common goals, and shared values, as well as by setting an illustration of the requested behavior. Facets of transformational leadership are: idealized influence (idealized attribution and idealized behavior), inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration ( Bass and Avolio, 1994 ; Bass and Riggo, 2006 ).
Transactional leadership contains among other things, an exchange process (between leader & follower) that results in adherent compliance to leader demands, but it is not expected to create zeal and commitment to an errand objective ( Trottier et al., 2008 ). The transactional leadership style constituted a constructive style labeled “contingent reward” and a corrective style labeled “management-by-exception.”
The last style is laissez-faire, which is characterized by non-involvement, showing indifference, being absent when needed, overlooking achievements and problems as well. It is a style of leadership in which leaders offer very little direction and allow group members to make decisions on their own ( Bass and Riggio, 2006 ; Koech & Namusonge, 2012 ; Solomon, 2016 ).
Several studies (e.g., Judge and Piccolo, 2004 ; Pourbarkhordari et al., 2016 ; Solomon, 2016 ) examined the influence of leadership styles on a number of employee work outcomes critical to an organization's productivity and effectiveness, such as job satisfaction, commitment, performance, and motivation. Judge and Piccolo (2004) carried out a comprehensive meta-analytic review of studies that employed a complete range of leadership from influential transformational to influential laissez-faire style to test their relative validity in predicting a number of leadership criteria: follower job satisfaction, follower satisfaction with the leader, follower motivation, leader job performance, group or organizational performance, and leader effectiveness. The researchers found out an overall positive relationship for transformational leadership and transactional leadership (contingent rewards), but a negative overall relationship between laissez-faire style and the criteria considered.
Other researches in broad leadership literature (e.g, Bass and Avolio, 1994 ; Hayward et al., 2003 ; Kotter, 1988 ; Meyer and Botha, 2000 ) elucidated that transformational leadership style is the most successful in enhancing employee performance and other characteristics. In the studies, transformational leadership is positively related with a range of workplace desirable behaviour such as individual employee's performance, satisfaction and organizational performance. For instance, in South African pharmaceutical industry, Hayward et al., 2003 ) found a significant positive linear relationship between transformational leadership and employee performance but not for transactional leadership and employee performance. In Ethiopian education sector, Solomon (2016) reported positive association of both transformational and transactional styles of leadership with employees' performance while the relations of laissez-fair style with employees' performance failed to reach significance level. Khan et al. (2012) examined leadership styles (transformational, transactional & laissez-fair) assessed with Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, as indicator variables in predicting innovative work behaviour and found out that both transformational and transactional leadership styles had positive relationship while laissez-faire had negative relationship with innovative work behaviour.
In general, it appears that transformational leadership style seems prominent in enhancing employees' work performance and other characteristics such as innovative behavior. The qualities of transformational leaders such as providing intellectual stimulation, inspiring followers through setting appealing vision and setting higher expectations maintains it effectiveness in organizational settings. Moreover, the motivational aspect and the fact that leaders serve as role model make this style to have profound influence on employees’ work outcomes. Because of the goal oriented nature of Transactional leaders focusing on expectations and recognizing achievement characteristics may positively initiate workers to exert higher levels of effort and performance Ejere and Abasilim (2013) ; Bass and Riggio (2006) . Based on the above discussion, the followings were hypothesized:
Transformational leadership style is positively related to (a) innovative work behavior and (b) task performance.
Transactional leadership style is positively related to (a) innovative work behavior and (b) task performance.
Laissez-faire style of leadership is negatively related to (a) innovative work behavior and (b) task performance.
Transformational leadership style is positively related to work engagement.
Transactional leadership style is positively related to work engagement.
Laissez-faire leadership style is negatively related to work engagement.
3.2. Mediating role of work engagement
Kahn (1990) presented an early interpretation of engagement, which conceptualized it as personal involvement in the workplace reflecting a condition in which workers "bring in" their personal selves during job performance, expend personal energy and feel an emotional connection to their jobs. According to Kahn, engaged employees dedicate themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances, while disengaged ones withdraw and guard themselves in all aspects (physically, cognitively & emotionally)in the course of role performances.
Based on Kahn's work, researchers—particularly those from the occupational health psychology fields further illuminate the concept of engagement. Early works based themselves on burnout model to clarify the concept of employee engagement ( Maslach and Leiter, 1997 ; Maslach et al., 2001 ). To Maslach and Leiter, for instance, elements of engagement are energy, involvement, and efficacy, which are in stark contrast to the three burnout dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism, and lack of accomplishment, respectively. In the same burnout framework, an alternative view that considered work engagement as a unique concept stands by its own and negatively related to burnout appeared. As a concept by its own right work engagement, consequently, defined as a positive, fulfilling, work related state of mind characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption ( Schaufeli, Salanova, González-Romá and Bakker, 2002 ). Here, Vigor refers to a high amount of drive and mental toughness while working, a willingness to invest effort in one's work, and sustain the determination even in the face of challenges. Dedication refers to a robust engagement in one's work and experiencing a sense of purpose and being enthusiastic, and absorption refers to fully and happily absorbed in one's work, such that time passes without notice while on work.
Despite some criticisms on confounding nature of some sub-constructs, the Schaufeli et al., 2002a , Schaufeli et al., 2002b model is hailed as a representative conceptualization of engagement and has been widely used in many fields ( Jeung, 2011 ).
The distinctive essence of work engagement was described in various works using constructs, such as employee engagement, job engagement, and role engagement in line with Kahn's conceptualization ( Rich, Lepine & Crawford, 2010 ; Rothbard, 2001 ; Saks, 2006 ). Among the different terms for engagement, work engagement and employee engagement are frequently and sometimes interchangeably used in literature. However the two terms vary in range in that work engagement focuses on the relationship between an individual employee and his or her work, while employee engagement applies to the relationships between the employee and the work and between the employee and the organization ( Schaufeli and Bakker, 2010 ). In the current study, since the focus was on the specific relationship between an individual employee and his her work, the term “work engagement” and conceptualization of Schaufeli et al., 2002a , Schaufeli et al., 2002b which connotes work engagement as ‘ a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption ’ was utilized.
Regarding the links among leadership styles, work engagement, and employee outcome behaviors, a closer look at the related literature showed that the quality of leader–subordinate relationships (LMX), empowering leadership, and transformational leadership behavior were the most frequently discussed topics ( Agarwal et al., 2012 ; Park et al., 2013 ; Zhang and Bartol, 2010 ). For instance, Agarwal et al. (2012) pointed out that the excellence of leader-member exchange influences engagement, and work engagement in turn correlates positively with innovative work behavior and negatively with intention to quit. The researchers asserted the meditational role of work engagement in the relationship between LMX as predictor and innovative work behavior and intention to quit as outcomes.
Park et al. (2013) also investigated the mediating effect of work engagement on the relationship between learning organizations and innovative behavior in the Korean context. The researchers found that a culture of learning organizations characterized by a positive learning environment, specific learning processes and procedures, and premeditated leadership behaviors through work engagement had direct and indirect impacts on the innovative work behaviors of employees.
In connection to transformational leadership and its link with various individual/organizational outcome behaviors, the mediating role of work engagement has been documented in various studies. Work engagement was found to mediate the link between transformational leadership and employees’ subjective occupational success designated by career satisfaction, social and career successes ( Vincent-Höper et al., 2012 ), staff nurse extra-role performance ( Salanova et al., 2011 ), organizational performance ( Evelyn and Hazel, 2015 ), and organizational knowledge creation practices ( Song et al., 2012 ). Thus, the researchers hypothesized:
Work engagement is positively related to (a) innovative work behavior and (b) task performance.
Work engagement partly mediates the relationship between leadership styles and work outcomes (task performance & innovative work behavior).
3.3. Cross-national aspects of leadership styles and work engagement
Despite some authors' claims that leadership styles are common across cultures, results are inconsistent with the degree to which leadership styles reign and their impact across cultures on followers. Shahin and Wright (2004) investigated the appropriateness of Bass and Avolio's leadership model in non-western country such as Egypt. They found that only certain factors that were considered as ideal leadership styles corresponded with U.S. factors, suggesting the influence of culture in labeling best leadership. Contrary to this finding, Walumbwa et al. (2007) made comparison based on data from China, India, Kenya, and the U.S. and found a robust manifestation of transformational and/or transactional leadership in these countries.
Ardichvili and Kuchinke (2002) carried out a comparative study on leadership styles and cultural values of managerial and non-managerial employees across culture by taking into account 10 business organizations in Russia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Germany, and the U.S., countries that differ widely in socio-economic and political orientation. The researchers elucidated that cross-cultural human resource development matters cannot be seen in terms of simplified dichotomies of East and West or developed versus developing economies.
In terms of the influences of leadership styles on work outcomes, it appeared that transformational-related behavior of leaders had a universally positive impact on followers’ behaviors ( Dorfman et al., 1997 ; Walumbwa et al., 2005 ). For instance, Walumbwa et al. (2005) examined influence of transformational leadership on two work-related attitudes: organizational commitment and job satisfaction based on data from Kenya and the U.S. and obtained its strong positive effect on both indicators and in both countries. Dunn et al. (2012) also reported similar results on the association of transformational leadership with organizational commitment based on data collected from two countries: the U.S. and Israel.
With regard to work engagement as a psychological construct, cross-cultural investigations are scant. However, existing evidence reveals invariance in the construct—at least, in Western countries. For instance, Schaufeli et al., 2002a , Schaufeli et al., 2002b observed the invariance of the UWES, consisting of vigor, dedication, and absorption, on a sample of students from three countries: Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands. Salanova and Schaufeli (2008) also reported the mediation model of work engagement in the link between job resources and managers’ proactive behavior at work in two independent samples drawn from Spain and the Netherland reflecting the consistence of the assertion across culture. In the current study, hence it was hypothesized that:
The proposed relationships among study variables and thus the interceding of work engagement between leadership styles and work outcomes are consistent for the two national samples.
4. Materials and method
The study partly used a cross-sectional method of online survey research. As pointed out by Nasbary (2000) , using an electronic format for a survey study does not pose any threat to the validity or reliability of the survey results, but rather has advantages such as low cost and rapid delivery.
4.1. Participants’ selection procedure
The target population for the study comprised of full-time professional ICT staff (with at least a college education) from for-profit companies engaged in ICT-related activities in Ethiopia and South Korea. Professionals in the ICT field were chosen mainly because of their crucial role in modern economic development in the least developed and advanced countries. Furthermore, the online survey was easily accessible due to their frequent contact to the internet. Additionally, selecting single industry enabled researchers to minimize errors emanating from industry-type. To collect data, Amharic (for Ethiopians) and Korean (for Koreans) versions of questionnaires were utilized for the study. In South Koreaa a survey company administered the questionnaire using random sampling approach in March–April, 2018. Using the company database, the questionnaire was sent to 500 staff, of which 300 replied. In Ethiopia, however, considering network quality and poor habit of using web, a hard-copy questionnaire was administered to 200 professionals selected by availability sampling in which 151 usable data were obtained. During data screening, nine extreme outliers (below or above 1.5 interquartile ranges of Q 1 & Q 3 respectively . ) from South Korea and four from Ethiopia were removed. Thus, the analyses were based on 291 (Males = 229 [78.7%], Females = 62 [21.3%]) participants from South Korea and 147 (Males = 98 [66.7%], Females = 49 [33.3%]) from Ethiopia.
The School Scientific Committee for Research and Publication (School of Humanities & Social Sciences, Adama Science & Technology University) approved the proposal of the study. The purpose of the research was also clearly explained for the participants to obtain their consent for participation.
For the South Korean participants, the average age was 37 years, with 58 being the highest age and 24 the lowest. The average tenure was seven years. Qualification wise, 16 (5.5%) had a diploma, 226 (77.7%) a bachelor’ degree, 43 (14.8%) a master's degree, and six (2.1%) were PhD holders. With respect to work position, 182 (62.5%) worked as staff, while 95 (32.6%) and 14 (4.8%) South Korean participants worked as team leaders and department heads respectively. A total of 176 (59.5%) worked for companies engaged in software development, followed by 86 (29.1%) who worked in telecom services. For the Ethiopian participants, the average age was 32, with 21 being the lowest age and 55 the highest. Average work experience was 5.6 years. In terms of educational qualifications, four (2.1%) had a diploma, 110 (74.8%) a first degree, 31 (21.1%) a second degree, and 2 (1.4%) of them were third degree holders. With regard to their work position, 129 (87.8%) worked as staff, while 12 (8.2%) and 6 (4.8%) of the Ethiopian participants worked as team leaders and department heads respectively. Most of (80%) the Ethiopian participants work for a telecom service company.
The study variables were measured using extensively used and validated instruments.
4.2.1. Leadership style
To measure the three leadership styles, participants ' impressions of the leadership behavior of their immediate supervisor were retrieved using the short form of the Multi-Factor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ-5X), a measure built based on the full range leadership model of Avolio and Bass ( Avolio et al., 1999 ) and commonly used and evaluated in different cultures ( Trottier et al., 2008 ; Solomon, 2016 ). The short form of the MLQ 5X consists of 36 items measuring nine outcomes of leadership: idealized influence (attributed), idealized influence (behavioral), inspirational motivation, individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, contingent rewards, management-by-exception (active), management-by-exception (passive), and laissez-faire. The response are rated using a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 0 “not at all” to 4 “frequently, if not always.”
4.2.2. Work engagement
The UWES which was initially designed by Schaufeli et al., 2002a , Schaufeli et al., 2002b and subsequently reviewed by Schaufeli et al. (2006) , has been used to measure the level of work engagement of the individual employees The scale was validated in many studies ( Schaufeli and Bakker, 2010 ) and utilized in non-Western countries such as South Korea ( Kim, 2014 ; Song et al., 2012 ). The short form of UWES is called the UWES-9; it has nine items, three for each dimension: vigor, dedication, and absorption. It is a self-report scale. All items of the UWES-9 were presented with a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 0 (“never”) to 6 (“always”). Through analyzing data from various countries via CFA and test-retest reliability, Schaufeli et al. (2006) reported that the Cronbach's alpha for the UWES-9 ranged between 0 .85 and 0.92. Besides, other studies also confirmed its acceptable applicability in terms of the items' homogeneity and the construct factor structure (e.g., Park et al., 2013 ; Seppala et al., 2009 ).
4.2.3. Innovative work behavior
Innovative work behavior was measured using Janssen (2000) 9-item test with a 7-point Likert scale ranging from (1) “never” to (7) “always.” The instrument measures three aspects of innovative work behavior: breeding a new idea, gaining support from others for its implementation, and turning an idea into an application. The respondents were asked how often creative tasks relevant to these three fields were performed. To create measure of innovative work behavior, scores of the three aspects were summed up. With respect to its internal consistency, Agarwal et al. (2012) , reported Cronbach's alpha coefficient of 0.92.
4.2.4. Task performance
In order to assess in-role task performance, a three-item self-report scale which is utilized widely in recent studies (e.g., Kim, 2014 ), has been used. Responses were recorded on seven-point Likert scale ranging from (1) “strongly disagree” to (7) “strongly agree.” Drawing on review of different studies that had employed the scale, Kim (2014) reported its reliability ranging from 0.77 to 0.87.
All the scales that became part of the questionnaire used in this analysis were in English. Hence, to suit the current study, forward-then-backward translation procedures (English to Amharic and English to Korean) were performed on all instruments by independent bilingual professionals. This procedure ensures linguistic equivalence between the original language of the instrument and the language used for its administration ( McGorry, 2000 ).
4.3. Data analysis
In order to examine the data, descriptive statistics, Cronbach's alpha, Pearson's product momentum correlation, and linear multiple regression analysis were employed. To assess the amount of variability explained by the predictors, coefficient of determination ( R 2 ) and to determine the magnitude of the path effects, standardized path coefficient estimates were considered. For the sake of comparison, analyses were made for the two national samples separately.
Prior to the analyses, basic assumptions of multivariate data analysis such as normality, linearity, and multicollinearity were tested. Data from the two national samples showed approximately normal distributions. The assumption of linearity was also met. With respect to multicollinearity, the high bivariate correlation between transformational leadership style and transactional leadership style, particularly for South Korean participants, resulted in a relatively high variance inflation factor (VIF) of 5.33 for the variable transactional leadership worrisome as per the suggestion by Hair et al. (2010) .
5.1. Descriptive analyses
Descriptive statistics and bivariate correlations for the variables included in the study are presented in Table 1 . The bivariate correlations are indicated by a Pearson's product momentum correlation coefficient ( r) . Among the background factors, weak negative correlations between sex and work engagement ( r = - 0.18, p < 0.01) and sex and task performance ( r = -0.17, p < 0.01) were obtained for the South Korean sample, while for Ethiopia they failed to reach significance. Work position was weakly negatively correlated with work engagement ( r = -0.22, p < 0.01 for South Korea and r = -0.16, p < 0.05 for Ethiopia) and innovative work behavior ( r = -0.19, p < 0.01 for South Korea and r = -0 .24, p < 0.01 for Ethiopia). Transformational and transactional leadership styles were positively correlated with work engagement and indicators of work outcomes in both countries, with the exception of the relationship between the transactional leadership style and work engagement in Ethiopia, which failed to reach significance. Laissez-faire leadership was weakly positively correlated with work engagement ( r = 0.13, p < 0.05) and innovative work behavior ( r = 0.17, p < 0.01) in South Korea, while in Ethiopia it was negatively correlated with work engagement ( r = -0.21, p < 0.05) and innovative work behavior ( r = -0.16, p < 0.05). Its correlation with task performance failed to reach the significance level in both countries. Work engagement was moderately positively related with measures of outcome indicators —innovative work behavior ( r = 0.57, p < 0.01, and r = 0.66, p < 0.01) and task performance ( r = 0.46 , p < 0.01, and r = 0.54, p < 0.01) for Ethiopia and South Korea, respectively. With respect to internal consistency, all measures for both samples demonstrated traditionally acceptable internal reliability levels ( α ranged from 0.77 to 0.95).
Bivariate correlation, mean (M), standard deviation (SD), and internal consistencies (Cronbach'sα) of the study variables for the South Korean (n = 291) and Ethiopian (n = 147) samples.
Notes: ∗p < .05, ∗∗p < .01 (two tailed).
The coding scheme was as follows: Gender: 1 = male, 2 = female; Education: 1 = diploma, 2 = BSc, 3 = MSc, 4 = PhD; work position: 1 = director/division head/assistant head, 2 = team leader, 3 = staff.
TRF - transformational, TRA - transactional, LAF - laissez-faire, WE - work engagement, IWB - innovative work behavior, TP - task performance.
Values below the diagonals are correlation coefficients for the South Korean sample, while those above the diagonals are values for the Ethiopian sample, along with internal consistency measures (Cronbach's alpha values).
5.2. Influence of leadership styles on work-related behaviors
To ascertain the proposed hypotheses related to the relationships between leadership styles and the measures of work outcomes and work engagement, a series of multiple linear regression analyses was performed, in which each indicator of work outcomes and work engagement was regressed on styles of leadership consecutively for the two countries separately. In the analyses, the background variables of the participants were controlled to remove their effects. As shown in Table 2 , the outputs indicated that the three leadership styles taken together explained a significant amount of the variability in innovative work behavior (Δ R 2 = 0.26, F (8,138) = 8.82 , p < 0.01 for Ethiopia; Δ R 2 = 0.48, F (8,182) = 47.1, p < 0.01 for South Korea), task performance (Δ R 2 = 0.20, F (8,138) = 5.55, p < .0.05 for Ethiopia; Δ R 2 = 0.21, F (8,182) = 10.46, p < 0.01 for South Korea), and work engagement (Δ R 2 = 0.24, F (8,138) = 8.82, p < 0.01 for Ethiopia; Δ R 2 = 0.32, F (8,182) = 23.2, p < 0.01 for South Korea). However, when the path coefficient estimates were taken into account, the path effects of the transformational leadership style on innovative work behavior ( β = 0.47, p < 0.01 for Ethiopia; β = 0. 54, p < 0. 01 for South Korea) and work engagement ( β = 0.52, p < 0.01 for Ethiopia; β = 0.45, p < 0.01 for South Korea) were significant, while its effect on task performance failed to reach the significance level in both countries. The effect of the transactional leadership style was significant only for task performance ( β = 0.29, p < 0. 01 for Ethiopia; β = 0.35, p < 0.01 for South Korea), not for innovative work behavior. Similarly, laissez-faire leadership's negative effect also reached significance level for task performance only ( β = -0.19, p < 0.05 for Ethiopia; β = - 0.17, p < 0.01 for South Korea).
Regression results for predicting innovative work behavior, task performance, and work engagement from leadership styles.
Notes: ∗p < .05, ∗∗p < .01 (two tailed). ETH - Ethiopia, KOR - South Korea.
The results in Table 2 provided support for H1 (a), H2 (b), H3 (b), and H4 but not for H5 and H6 .
To test the hypothesis related to the relationship between work engagement and the measures of work outcomes: innovative work behavior and task performance were regressed on work engagement consecutively and separately for the two countries. The results in Table 3 showed that a significant proportion of the variance in innovative work behavior (Δ R 2 = 0.28, F (6,140) = 13.10, p < 0.01 for Ethiopia; Δ R 2 = 0.38, F (6,140) = 38.04, p < 0.01 for South Korea) and task performance (Δ R 2 = 0.18, F (6,140) = 6.74, p < 0.01 for Ethiopia; Δ R 2 = 0. 29, F (6,284) = 21.95, p < 0 .01 for South Korea) were explained by work engagement. The standardized path coefficients of work engagement on innovative work behavior ( β = 0.56, p < 0.01 and β = 0.64, p < 0.01) and on task performance ( β = 0. 45, p < 0.01 and β = 0.56, p < 0.01) for Ethiopia and South Korea, respectively, indicated positive and significant relationships of work engagement with innovative work behavior and task performance and thus provided support for H7 .
Regression results for predicting innovative work behavior and task performance from work engagement.
Note: ∗p < .05, ∗∗p < .01 (two tailed).
5.3. Mediational role of work engagement
In testing the hypothesis related to the partial mediational role of work engagement in the link between leadership styles and indicators of outcome behavior, as per Baron and Kenny's (1986) suggestion, certain conditions need to be met for mediation establishment. First, the predictor variable(s) had to be related to the mediator variable. Second, the mediator had to be related to the predicted variable(s). Third, a significant relationship between the predictor variable(s) and predicted variable(s) was to be reduced for partial mediation to operate when controlling for the mediator variable. As described earlier, the first two conditions were partly met. Thus, for the mediation test, the two indicators of work outcomes were regressed over leadership styles consecutively while controlling for background factors and work engagement. As the results in Table 4 showed, the amount of variance in innovative work behavior explained by leadership styles was reduced from 26% to 9% ( Δ R 2 = 0. 09, F (9,137) = 12.56, p < 0.01) for Ethiopia and from 48% to 16% (Δ R 2 = 0.16, F (9,281) = 48.62, p < 0.01) for South Korea, while for task performance reduction was from 20% to 10% (Δ R 2 = .10, F (9,137) = 7.63, p < 0.01) for Ethiopia and from 21% to 4% (Δ R 2 = 0.04, F (9,281) = 17.44, p < 0.01) for South Korea. Thus, H8 is supported.
Regression results for predicting work outcomes (innovative work behavior and task performance) from leadership styles while controlling work engagement.
With respect to hypothesis 9, (nature of relationships & mediation model across the two national samples), the separately presented results elucidated that the relationships among styles of leadership, work engagement and work outcomes were more or less consistent across Ethiopia and South Korea samples. Work engagement also partly mediated the relationship between leadership styles and work outcomes in both samples. Hence, H9 is supported.
The present study investigated relationships among leadership styles, employee work engagement and some indicators of work outcomes and tested a mediation model of work engagement in the link between styles of leadership and work outcomes among ICT professionals. The model viewed leadership styles (the behavior of leaders varying from powerful transformation to "non-leadership") as antecedent to work engagement and innovative work behavior and task performance were taken as work outcomes. It also investigated the nature of relationships among variables and cross-national validity of the proposed model in two independent samples from Ethiopia and South Korea, countries that differ in their social, cultural, economic, and technological levels. The obtained results were as follows:
First, the transformational leadership style had significant positive relationships with employees' work engagement and innovative work behavior, while the transactional leadership style had a significant positive relationship with employee task performance. Laissez-faire leadership had a significant negative relationship with task performance. These associations were consistent across the two national samples. The assumed positive links of transformational leadership style with task performance and transactional leadership style with employees’ innovative work behavior, and the negative relationship of the laissez-faire style with innovative behavior were not supported in both national samples. The relationships obtained have shown that leaders who stimulate and inspire followers by articulating visions, goals, and shared values and engaged in building capacity via coaching and challenging employees promote innovative behavior, while leaders who emphasize compliance of followers through supervision may have influence on task performance.
Second, as expected, work engagement had significant positive relationships with the indicators of work outcomes (innovative work behavior and task performance) among ICT professionals in both countries. This suggests that, employees who psychologically identify with their work or “bring in” their personal selves to work, devoting and experiencing an emotional connection to their work, appear to be innovative and put discretionary effort into performance of tasks.
Third, work engagement partially mediated the relationships between leadership styles and indicators of outcomes. Specifically, the relationship between transformational leadership and professionals’ innovative work behavior was partially mediated by work engagement in both countries. This implies that transformational leaders influence innovative behavior of staff directly and indirectly through influencing their level of work engagement.
Work outcomes such as task performance and innovative work behavior are influenced by a number of factors of which leadership is an important one. Consistent to current study results, previous studies (e.g. Khan et al., 2012 ; Ejere and Abasilim, 2013 ; Judge and Piccolo, 2004 ; Solomon, 2016 ) underscored the significant contributions of transactional and transformational styles of leadership for employees’ performance.
Specifically, the association of transformational leadership style with innovative work behavior and transactional leadership style with task performance observed in the current study may be explained in terms of peculiar characteristics of these styles. With respect to innovative work behaviour, transformational leadership style is considered as a suitable style of leadership as in this style followers are encouraged to commence new ideas and challenge old ways of doing things ( Bass and Avolio, 2000 ). For innovative behaviour transformational leaders' behaviour such as being role model by engaging in needed change, stimulating followers to challenge the status quo and be inspirational while leading others are all vital qualities. In addition, transformative leadership style demanding alignment of the needs and desires of followers with the organization's one ( Bass, 1999 ), may encourage employees to go additional mile necessary for creative behaviour. On the other hand, transactional leadership can be argued to be significant for task performance of employees' as it is focused more on immediate outcomes, monitor performance and correct mistakes. Additionally, transactional leaders make clear expectations and give feedback about meeting expectations may push employees to focus on tasks listed in job description.
The findings related to linkages among leadership styles, work engagement and work outcomes obtained in the current study are also consistent with some earlier studies (e.g., Bakker and Bal, 2010 ; Salanova et al., 2011 ; Song et al., 2012 ). Bakker and Bal (2010) reported on weekly work engagement as a predictor of performance among starting teachers. With respect to leadership styles, Song et al. (2012) affirmed the significant impact of transformational leadership on employee work engagement and organizational knowledge creation practices, and partial mediation of employee work engagement in the link between those two constructs. Salanova et al. (2011) also reported a relationship between transformational leadership and work engagement where, contrary to the findings of the current study, work engagement fully mediated the relationship between transformational leadership and nurses’ extra-role performance.
The observed mediation of work engagement across independent samples found in the current study is also consistent with some previous studies ( Dorfman et al., 1997 ; Walumbwa et al., 2005 ; Salanova and Schaufeli, 2008 ). While the consistency of the mediation model observed here across the two independent national samples does not justify either its utility or its contribution, it may add confidence in the generalizability of the findings.
The results of this study have some theoretical and practical implications in HR-related fields for researchers and practitioners. The study provides insights into the ongoing investigations of correlates of employees' work engagement. In particular, the study may shed light on the nature of associations among leadership styles, work engagement, and critical work outcomes such as task performance and innovative work behavior among ICT professionals. It may also disentangle the role of transformational leadership, particularly when it comes to employees personally committing themselves to role performance and innovation efforts. Besides, the study elucidated the cross-national aspect of the relationships among the variables it considered. Despite a number of background differences, it appeared that styles of leadership had more or less similar links with work engagement and outcome behaviors among participants from Ethiopia and South Korea. Specifically, the invariance in the mediating role of work engagement in the link between transformational leadership and employees’ discretionary actions with respect to idea generation, promotion, and realization among ICT professionals working in different countries solidify the existing understanding of the importance of this leadership style.
Practically, the results of the study highlight the need to improve leadership by applying a transformational style, as it is essential for organizations to have ICT workforces that perform their roles and are willing to demonstrate discretionary efforts. Thus, practitioners in the field should develop strategies and training programs targeting transformational leadership skills such as being supportive and intellectually stimulating, and conveying a vision to employees so that leaders can influence their staff. In particular, to strengthen the ICT sector's human resources in Ethiopia so that it can contribute significantly to the development of the country, more attention should be given to leadership development.
Furthermore, practitioners could closely scrutinize employees' work engagement by assessing it using well-established scales such as the UWES or a locally developed one. For ICT companies to be competitive, collecting information on the work engagement level of staff should be part of employees' opinion surveys, and identifying practices and policies that promote their staff's work engagement behavior is imperative.
6.2. Limitations and future research
Notwithstanding its important theoretical and practical contributions, there are some drawbacks to this study. The cross-sectional research design used primarily did not allow researchers to establish causality among variables. This means that the suggested associations among the variables should not be interpreted as causal relationships, but as associations that suggest causal ordering, which needs to be confirmed by longitudinal research. Secondly, the data for the study were gathered using a self-report questionnaire with its own inherent pros and cons, particularly when it comes to the participants’ assessments of their immediate supervisor. Thirdly, as antecedent variables, the study limited to full range of leadership model consists of transformational, transactional and laissez fair styles. That is, there are also other potential aspects of leadership nature that might be relevant that are not included in the current study. Finally, the relatively high VIF of the transactional leadership style could undermine the role of this variable in the web. Thus, for future research, the researchers suggest a longitudinal research design and outcomes measured through methods other than self-reports.
Author contribution statement.
Habtamu Kebu Gemeda, Jaesik Lee: Conceived and designed the experiments; Performed the experiments; Analyzed and interpreted the data; Wrote the paper.
This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interest statement
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
No additional information is available for this paper.
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Leadership Styles Research Paper
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There may be nearly as many different definitions and perspectives about leadership as there are people who study and write about it. As leadership has been a subject of study during the past 40 years, a realization has emerged that a single leadership approach will not be effective in all situations. While this may seem obvious to some, it represents a breakthrough in the way that leadership has characteristically been discussed by researchers, consultants, and trainers. The need to select or develop a leadership approach to meet the needs of an organization and its environment suggests that a critical leadership skill may be the ability to understand what fits of a particular situation. This is particularly true for organizations needing to meet changing social, economic, and technological changes. Understanding the critical aspects of organizational change and having knowledge of alternative leadership models are both necessary to effectively deal with the organizational challenges of the 21st century.
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Starting from this perspective, this research paper first briefly examines major challenges facing contemporary organizations, then reviews a number of alternative ways of looking at leadership in organizations, and finally considers some specific leadership requirements presented by change and globalization, the two largest organizational challenges of this century.
Some management researchers and authors see the 21st century in terms of conflicts between groups with competing interests. For example, some point to the growing gap between affluent and poor groups as a source of continued unrest and possible challenge for organizations. While disparities in wealth have always been present, technological changes have made differences more visible than ever, possibly fueling new levels of unrest (Starbuck, 2005). Other conflicts may exist between organizations and nations, as large for-profit and nonprofit entities extend presence and influence across national boundaries, often tying employees more tightly to the organizations than to their home country. Indeed, the revenues of Fortune 500 companies are larger than numerous national budgets. The influence of these organizations may be further augmented by continued globalization of markets and the outsourcing of work and services in other parts of the world.
The challenge of change and globalization require leadership that can
- adopt new technologies and alter business processes and employee/manager roles to make effective use of technologies;
- develop new perspectives about the nature of the business objectives and goals of the organization;
- develop perspectives about the nature of the calling of the organization and its role in society. Social responsibility is not just an “add-on.” Successful organizations must have a vision for the role and contribution to making the world a better place;
- make products and services attractive to customers in different cultures; and
- work effectively with members of different cultures as fellow employees, providers of outsourced services, or as venture partners.
Guiding change may be the ultimate test of a leader, since evidence suggests that few organizations will survive over the long term without it. However, fundamental organizational change is often resisted mightily. Thus, effective leaders in the 21st century need to be aware of alternative approaches to leadership and the implications of these models for different contexts and needs.
Alternative Leadership Models
Systematic research concerned with leadership first focused on the search for individual characteristics that universally differentiated leaders from nonleaders. A large number of personal characteristics were investigated such as gender, height, physical energy, and appearance as well as psychological traits and motives such as authoritarianism, intelligence, need for achievement, and need for power. The dominant part of this literature was published between 1930 and 1950. This work identified several traits that were associated with measures of leader effectiveness, but the findings were seldom replicated in multiple studies. Thus it appeared that there were few, if any, universal traits associated with effective leadership.
In the early 1970s, interest in leadership traits reemerged. For example, people who are good at monitoring their own actions (called high self-monitors) are more responsive to situational cues and may alter their behaviors to meet circumstances. In contrast, low self-monitors are more likely to act consistently across all situations, making their personal characteristics more salient and visible. In addition, individual traits dispositions may be less visible and important predictors of leadership effectiveness in highly constraining “strong” situations. Individual dispositions are more likely to predict leadership in “weaker” situations. Strong situations are cases that are highly formalized and governed by well-established role expectations, norms, rules, policies, and procedures—such as the military. In these cases, there is less opportunity for individual traits to have an effect. Traits are more predictive of a leader’s behavior in select situations. Thus, an individual who is disposed toward aggressiveness is more likely to behave in an aggressive manner in situations in which others disagree with or threaten the individual. In other words, the tendency to be aggressive becomes significant only under aggression-arousing conditions. In other situations, individuals with an aggressive disposition are not likely to behave more aggressively than others.
Achievement-motivated individuals set challenging goals, assume personal responsibility for goal accomplishment, are highly persistent in the pursuit of goals, take calculated risks to achieve goals, and actively collect and use information for feedback. High-achievement motivated individuals also engage in a high degree of self-regulatory behavior. However, in management positions at middle or higher levels, managerial effectiveness often depends on the extent to which managers delegate effectively and motivate and coordinate others. High-achievement motivated managers are strongly inclined to be personally involved in performing the work of their organization and are reluctant to delegate authority and responsibility. Thus, achievement motivation has been found to be positively related to the effectiveness of leaders of small task-oriented groups and leaders of relatively small entrepreneurial firms, but negatively related to the effectiveness of middle- and high-level managers in large organizations or in political situations.
Unless constrained by a disposition to use power in a constructive manner, power-motivated managers will exercise power in an impetuously aggressive manner for self-aggrandizing purposes to the detriment of their subordinates and organizations. Accordingly, individuals who have a high concern for the moral exercise of power will use power in an altruistic and collectively oriented manner, behave ethically, and be concerned about the consequences of their actions on others. A leader who exhibits a combination of high power motivation and high regard for the moral exercise of power generates follower trust and respect. On the other hand, high-affiliation motivated managers may be reluctant to give negative feedback to subordinates even when required, or to discipline subordinates for ethical transgressions or violations of organizational policies.
To be effective, charismatic leaders must mobilize a critical mass of followers in the interest of the leader’s vision; thus they need to have high-power motivation. These leaders will almost inevitably be resisted and criticized; they need to be relatively insensitive to such criticism and, thus, must have lower affiliation motivation. Finally, to maintain their position, charismatic leaders must advocate a vision of a better future for the collective (social system or organization) and for followers. They must not exercise leadership in the interest of self-aggrandizement. According to charismatic theory, the emergence and effectiveness of charismatic leaders will be associated with leaders’ sense of social responsibility and collective interests rather than with self-interest. Thus, for successful leadership, the power motive needs to be higher than the affiliation motive. When the self-aggrandizing tendency usually associated with high-power motivation is inhibited by a high concern for morally responsible exercise of power (or social influence), individuals are predicted to engage in the exercise of power in an effective and socially desirable manner. This combination has been found to predict managerial effectiveness in formal organizations at middle and higher organizational levels, in nontechnical functions, as well as in small entrepreneurial organizations.
The guiding assumption of the behavioral perspective on leadership was that some leader behaviors seem to work well regardless of the leader’s traits. These behaviors could be discovered by either observing leaders in action or by asking subordinates about the behavior of their immediate superiors. The behavioral leadership theories include several models, the major ones are as follows:
- The path-goal theory suggests that a leader’s success is determined by his or her ability to provide followers with direction (the path) to follow to achieve performance goals. The theory assumes that followers must be able to make relatively confident and accurate estimates of probabilities of goal accomplishment (performance) and receipt of rewards after such accomplishment. When there is uncertainty with respect to effort requirements, goals, or extrinsic rewards, or when followers or leaders are under a substantial amount of stress, the rational processes suggested by path-goal theory may not hold.
- Hersey and Blanchard (1982) suggested four leadership styles: telling, selling, participating, and delegating, each appropriate for certain kinds of situations defined by subordinates’ “maturity” levels. That is, the prescribed leadership style is contingent on follower maturity, defined as “the degree to which followers are ready and willing to tackle the task facing the group.” This is represented by a life cycle model, analogous to a parent-child relationship where the parent gradually relinquishes control as the child matures.
- Transactional and transformational leadership models cover a range of possible relationships between leaders and followers. The transactional leader-follower relationship is based on an exchange model, where the follower makes contributions in anticipation of, or in response to, rewards, support, and various accommodations from the leader. Typical transactional leadership behaviors are the clarification of task requirements and specification of contingent rewards.
- Transformational leadership involves behaviors designed to develop followers’ strong personal identification with the leader and a shared vision of the future. These results in followers’ attitudes and behaviors that go above and beyond those linked to an exchange of rewards or compliance. Transformational leaders activate the higher order needs of followers, getting subordinates to think and act for the sake of the organization, often by making these employees more aware of the importance and interdependence of their efforts. Transformational leadership behaviors include:
- intellectual stimulation (helping followers think about problems in new ways);
- inspirational motivation (communicating images of what the followers can do);
- individualized consideration (giving personalized feedback for development); and
- idealized influence (having charismatic appeal to followers).
Although transactional and transformational leadership approaches seem to be conceptually distinct, several studies have examined the question of whether subordinates can tell the difference. Some studies have found that subordinates seem to differentiate transactional and transformational behaviors on the part of their leaders, where others have found that subordinates may not distinguish between the two concepts.
- As with trait research, models of leadership behaviors seemed to make little distinction among the specific role demands of leaders, the context in which they functioned, or differences in dispositions of leaders or followers. In response to this omission, contingency theory suggests that a leader’s task versus relationship behaviors combine with “situational control” to predict leader success. Situational control is the degree to which the leader can control and influence the group process. In general, studies have found that task-motivated leaders perform best in situations of high and low control while relationship-motivated leaders perform best in moderate control situations.
- Cognitive resource theory focuses on the effects of leader intelligence and experience, and the amount of stress present in the situation. One of the most important findings from studies of this perspective is that under different stress levels, leader and follower intelligence and experience levels have different relationships with performance. That is, when subordinates report high job- or boss-related stress, bright people perform worse than dull people. When job- or boss-related stress is low, more experienced individuals perform worse than less experienced individuals. This implies that under conditions of high stress, a highly intelligent person should rely on experience, rather than intelligence, to be effective. Intelligence and experience, thus, interfere with each other. While counterintuitive, these results have been empirically supported in a number of studies.
Cognitive resource theory has also helped to answer the leadership puzzle of when it is more effective to be participative with followers, and when it is more effective to be directive. Leader intelligence cannot contribute to group performance unless the leader tells the group what to do, and the group members listen to the leader and do what they are told to do. When the leader has little control over the behavior of followers and leader-follower relationships are troublesome, neither directive nor participative leader-ship will be effective, because followers will neither listen to the leader, nor do what they are told to do. When leader intelligence is lacking in low-stress conditions or leader experience is lacking in high-stress conditions, directive leadership will be ineffective. Further, when leader-follower relationships are good and stress is low, participative leadership will work best when group members are more intelligent than their leader. That is, relationships being good, the leader will listen to the followers.
Fiedler (1996) recommends a two-step process of (a) recruiting and selecting individuals with required intellectual abilities, experience, and job-relevant knowledge, and (b) enabling leaders to work under conditions that allow them to make effective use of the cognitive resources for which they were hired. For inherently stressful tasks such as firefighting or combat performance, overlearning is recommended. For stressful jobs that require both experience and intelligence, such as directing air traffic from control towers, overlearning and stress-reduction procedures as well as training in coping with stress are recommended.
While the models just discussed tend to describe relationships of leaders with groups of followers, leader-member exchange (LMX) theory suggests that leadership can best be described in terms of the development of the dyadic relationship between a leader and a subordinate. One distinguishing feature of LMX theory is its focus on an individual leader-follower relationship, as opposed to behavior or traits of either followers or leaders. This view suggests that the quality of “mature” superior-subordinate relationships would be more predictive of positive organizational outcomes than “average” traits or behaviors of leaders. The differences in dyadic relationships of followers with the same leader suggest that there may be in-groups and out-groups of followers. LMX may be a better indication of the nature of the superior-subordinate relationship than the performance of followers relative to objectives. Contextual variables also may come into play as high levels of time pressure in a work setting seem to encourage supervisors to form uniformly high LMX relationships with the subordinates in their units. Thinking through the LMX process does help explain some phenomena that are readily observed in organizations. For example, consider the following:
- For several possible reasons, subordinates and superiors may develop high-quality LMX. The reasons could include demographic or perceived similarity, familiarity, liking, reputation of subordinates, social reciprocity, subordinates’ ability level, and/or prior performance.
- Superiors then express positive attitudes such as trust and respect toward these subordinates. Superiors also express that they expect a high level of mutual support and loyalty. These communications convey expectations of follower loyalty, commitment, mutual obligation, and possibly mutual liking and may induce a Pygmalion effect. That is, leaders grow to like selected subordinates who demonstrate loyalty, commitment, and possibly higher performance and subsequently give these followers higher performance ratings.
- These ratings in turn influence the subordinate’s reputation, become a matter of record, and may be used for future selection, development, and promotion decisions. Thus, subordinates with a history of high-performance ratings become promoted to higher level positions.
The downside of this process is possible adverse implications for the development and career advancement of subordinates who are not demographically similar, familiar, and well liked. The previous scenario describes a naturally occurring process and does not necessarily imply biased treatment of minorities, although it can describe a process by which discrimination can occur. In that respect, the LMX process may be one through which leaders must be conscientious of fair treatment in reward allocations, even though it is human nature to like some subordinates better than others.
Having discussed a range of alternative ways of considering, describing, and evaluating leadership, we now turn to consideration of the specific aspects or leadership required for the challenges of globalization and organizational change in the 21st century.
Globalization: Leadership Across Cultures
The recently published results of the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) study present information about how leadership may be viewed by persons from 62 different cultures. This study proceeded from the perspective that the way in which a leader’s characteristics and behaviors are interpreted is strongly influenced by a person’s cultural background. Thus, the attributes that are seen as characteristic or prototypical for leaders may also strongly vary in different cultures. It is important to realize that most of the research on leadership during the past half century was conducted in the United States, in Canada, and in Western Europe. Thus, one of the criteria that should be considered in evaluating the applicability of leadership models previously discussed is a model’s flexibility in accommodating alternative cultural perspectives.
The GLOBE study identified both universally endorsed leadership attributes, as well as the leadership features that seem to be endorsed only in selected cultures. Contributing to outstanding leadership in all cultures were several attributes reflecting integrity. Thus, a leader who is viewed as trustworthy, just, and honest is positively regarded in nearly all cultures. Also, an outstanding leader has other attributes reflecting charismatic, inspirational, and visionary leadership. A leader who embodies these universally endorsed attributes is encouraging, positive, motivational, and dynamic and builds confidence and has foresight. A universally endorsed leader is also a team builder, a good
communicator and coordinator, achieves excellence, and is decisive, intelligent, and a win-win problem solver. Leader attributes that are universally viewed as impediments to outstanding leadership include being a loner, being uncooperative, ruthless, nonexplicit, irritable, and dictatorial.
Perhaps most informative are examples collected by the GLOBE researchers as to how different leadership approaches may be enacted in different cultural settings. Some examples are as follows:
- Charisma—The term “charisma” invokes ambivalence in several countries. For instance, in Mexico, charisma is seen as a mixed blessing. Negative evaluations of charisma are also found in several other countries. For instance, some fear that people may lose their balance and perspective due to the focus on achievement created by charismatic leaders. Followers might willingly exploit themselves—with negative consequences for their health and quality of life—in the service of the organization’s mission.
- Communication—Communication of a leader’s vision is often associated with powerful rhetoric. However, there are different ways to communicate a vision. For example, a vision in China is normally expressed in a nonaggressive manner, possibly due to the influences of Confucian values (e.g., kindness, benevolence) that make people wary of leaders making pompous speeches without engaging in specific action. In India, bold, assertive leadership styles are generally preferred to quiet and nurturing styles.
- Egalitarianism—In countries such as the Netherlands and Australia, a high value is placed on egalitarianism, and this is reflected in remarks by Dutch CEOs such as “ideas need acceptance, otherwise they will not be realized” and “consensus is an important prerequisite to realize goals.” In the Netherlands, participative leadership can be seen as a component of transformational leadership. In both the Netherlands and Australia, there is a tendency to denigrate high achievers. This is sometimes referred to as the “tall poppy syndrome” (to cut down the tall poppy that absorbs the sun while depriving the shorter poppies of exposure to the sun). Australian leaders are expected to inspire high levels of performance, but must do so without giving the impression of charisma or of not being anything more than “a mate.” The leader being “one of the boys” was one of the typically Australian leadership dimensions that reflect the high value placed on egalitarianism.
- Compassion in leadership—A Mexican entrepreneur who was considered brilliant, humorous, enthusiastic, and a good speaker involved himself in the private lives of his employees because of his perceived role in meeting their personal needs and expectations of him. For example, when informed that a secretary’s husband was going into the hospital for an operation, the leader called the doctor and discussed the matter with the doctor to make sure that the operation was legitimate. A Chinese manager may have high respect for his boss because “he does real things” such as visiting an employee’s sick family member and telling the employee to stay at the hospital rather then appearing at work.
These examples provide some insight into the cultural differences that leaders in organizations involved in the global, “flat-world” economy must be ready to consider in their choice of actions.
Alternative Approaches To Leadership Of Organizational Change
The classic role of managers in an organization is to establish and enforce the use of policies, procedures, and methods that reduce uncertainty in organizational outputs and outcomes. Indeed, the bureaucratic routines adopted by organizations increase predictability, reduce uncertainty within organizations, and “get everyone on the same page.” However, the need for organizational change is often rooted in threats or uncertainties. These threats may be due to poor firm performance or trends that suggest the organization is vulnerable to loss of market share, competitive advantages, or critical resources. Some studies of change suggest that organizations may experience periods of equilibrium where patterns of behavior are stable. In periods of equilibrium, any changes made by the organization may be incremental and aimed at better aligning and maintaining the current congruence among system components. These have also been described as “first-level” changes, which do not alter organizational relationships, but are aimed at incremental improvement within the existing structure and task design.
Strategic organizational changes raise questions about the organization’s purpose and identity and have been described as second-level changes. These are often interventions that involve reorganization and/or major alteration of one or more selected subsystems. Third-level changes are organizationwide efforts that involve altering the beliefs, values, and interrelationships of all subsystems of the organization. Second- and third-level changes are most frequently undertaken as planned changes. In planned changes, managers seek involvement and commitment of organizational members in planning and specifying the nature of the changes. Employee “buy-in” is sought in part to mitigate resistance and reduce process losses. The underlying assumption in planned change is that organizational inertia needs to be disturbed by deliberate efforts to change aspects of an organization.
The type of change appropriate for an organization depends on both business complexity and sociotechnical uncertainty. Business complexity includes the extent of differentiation of the organization, organization size and geographical dispersion, interdependencies among functions, number of products and services offered, and diversity of technologies employed. Greater complexity increases the number of stakeholders who must be involved in a change and the range of consequences that must be anticipated. Sociotechnical uncertainty is defined as the extent to which there are clearly known ways to approach problems and established procedures and job roles. Higher levels of sociotechnical uncertainty imply that outcomes are less certain. When complexity and sociotechnical uncertainties are greater, firms may be more likely to engage in planned changes. Planned organizational changes have had the most consistent effects on organizational work settings, including coordination and control of work, reward system, social interactions, organizational culture, and technology. Planned interventions also significantly impacted individual employee behavior (including job performance, effort, open communication, collaboration, and organizational citizenship behaviors,) and organizational outcomes (including profits, market share, market position, productivity, rates of turnover, absenteeism, and grievances).
The most effective leadership approaches for change have involved behaviors directed at (a) framing change (establishing starting points for change; designing and managing the change journey for employees, and communicating guiding principles) and (b) building capacity (creating individual and organizational capacities for different job roles; communicating and creating connections among functions and the related changes). Organizations tended to adopt emergent change approaches only after completing a process of planned change. Centrally directed changes based on assumptions of linearity (the “freeze—mobilize—re-freeze” model) are least likely to succeed. Studies have also found that visible management support and commitment, realistic schedules, adequate resources, employee participation, high levels of communication, agreement on the business need for the change, and reward systems that support change all contribute to successful change implementation. The factors negatively affecting change include inconsistent actions by key managers, unrealistic expectations, lack of meaningful employee participation, poor communication, unclear purpose for change, and lack of clear responsibility for decisions.
In general, successful change seems to require greater levels of collaboration among different levels and functions within an organization. However, significant organizational changes may involve some loss by individuals within the organization. For example, employees may be asked to take on new roles that they may perceive as being less important than old roles. Change implementation may vary in its impact on different job levels and types, where employees in jobs over which the employee had more control may be more ready for organizational change and willing to participate in redesign tasks while workers who may be less engaged in their jobs may be less willing to participate in redesign activities. Productivity may drop during periods of significant organizational change because stability and routines are disrupted. Successful implementation of planned changes may require the establishment of a separate process within the organization that combines key factors for change. Other studies have directed attention to (a) willingness and ability of “change makers”—on multiple levels to take on responsibility for changes; (b) the extent of the organization’s infrastructure to facilitate change; and (c) the availability of sufficient resources to undertake the changes. Change capacity may be related to the extent that the organization has decentralized structures and communication processes in place to facilitate communication and clarification of the intentions and details of changes.
A growing realization is that the inertia within managerial cognition plays a large role in the successful design, planning, and implementation of organizational changes. For example, second- and third-level changes involve changing schema used by managers when thinking about an organization. Thus, successful design and implementation of significant planned changes requires leaders to identify the underlying assumptions they use to interpret and make sense of the organizational world. Well-developed interpretive schemes that have previously provided order and meaning to the workplace may now hinder a management team’s visualization of alternatives and limit the consideration of new approaches. Strategic changes are most often successful when substantial changes have taken place in the cognitions of top managers. Often declining organizational performance triggered these changes in cognitions, possibly because declines in performance were salient and demanded corrective actions. The cognitive “road map” including the knowledge structures, beliefs, and causal beliefs of the managerial group in the organization largely determines the way in which an organization’s external environment is interpreted. When organizations put mechanisms into place to increase information use, managers are more likely to interpret strategic issues in a positive frame. When managers attribute declining performance to internal characteristics or causes, they are more likely to initiate and undertake strategic changes.
Successful change may depend on leaders developing the capacity to live with and tolerate ambiguity. This includes remaining content with less-than-complete knowledge, resisting the impulse to react to pressures that may be associated with uncertainties encountered in planning and carrying out change (French, 2001). Effective change management requires leaders to be in touch with what is actually happening as opposed to what was planned. When managers and employees cannot tolerate the impact of un-certainties, the coping process may be to “disperse” or race into actions such as breaking problems into manageable bits so that the problems or uncertainties seem to be more bearable. In these instances, individuals and groups close off information, seeking to move in a direction that involves the practiced actions and ways of looking at organizational and operational problems.
Two psychological biases can affect leadership during organizational change. The first, prospect bias, predicts that decision makers are risk averse when performance is perceived to be good and risk seeking when performance has been poor. In other words, managers in firms with poor performance may be motivated to take greater risks than those in more healthy firms. In contrast, the threat-rigidity bias suggests that poor performance promotes risk-averse responses, because threats arouse stress and anxiety in decision makers. The threat-rigidity perspective predicts that managerial anxiety may cause decision makers to narrow their range of attention and restrict information seeking and processing. This restricts alternatives to those consistent with conservative and well-learned interpretive frames. While prospect theory predicts a proactive solution to unfavorable conditions, threat rigidity suggests the continuance of existing strategic orientations. Examples of threat-rigidity bias in leadership of change include focusing on short-term fixes while not attending sufficiently to strategic changes; increased centralization of authority within the organization; downsizing by exiting lines of business and liquidating or divesting subunits; and increasing the relative presence of top managers with legal, financial, or accounting expertise as opposed to marketing, research and development (R&D), and production backgrounds. These overarching decision biases may reflect embedded patterns of managerial cognition that can threaten stakeholder interest in organizations facing the need to change.
Other major cognitive biases may influence managers’ perceptions of the need for organizational change and the type of changes that may be effective for the organization. The possible cognitive traps include the following:
- Failure to consider possible consequences. In making complex choices, people often simplify the decision by ignoring possible outcomes or consequences that would otherwise complicate the choice. There is a tendency to reduce the set of possible consequences or outcomes to make the decision more manageable.
- Limiting the range of stakeholders. When there is a tendency to restrict the analysis of a policy’s consequences to one or two groups of visible stakeholders, decisions may be blind-sided by unanticipated consequences to an altogether different group.
- Discounting the future. The consequences that managers must face tomorrow are more compelling than those occurring next week or next year. Failing to cope with the temporal distribution of consequences exposes executives and boards to accusations that they squandered the future to exploit the present.
- Judgment of risk. What people want to hear is not what might happen, but what will happen. When leaders view the world as more certain than it is, they expose themselves and organizations to poor outcomes. In general, people underestimate the importance of chance or misperceive chance events. For example, each morning, the media presents an “explanation” in the financial pages of why the market went up or down.
- Ignoring low-probability events. If a new product has the potential for great acceptance but a possible drawback, perhaps for only a few people, there is a tendency to underestimate the risk. One common response to the assertion that executives underestimate the importance of random events is that they have learned through experience how to process information about uncertainty. However, experience may not be a good teacher because people often misremember what the original expectations were. This phenomenon, called the “hindsight bias,” insulates leaders from previous errors.
- Risk framing. Whether a glass is half full or half empty is a matter of risk framing. When the glass is described as half full, it appears more attractive than when it is described as half empty.
- Perception of causes. Managers may oversimplify assessments of why things happen or do not happen. However, even under the best of circumstances, causation is usually complex, and ambiguity about causation is often at the heart of disputes about responsibility, blame, and punishment. If executives are overconfident, they will fail to seek additional information to update their knowledge and be reluctant to learn more about a situation or problem before acting.
John Kotter, a now retired professor from Harvard Business School, has suggested that the most critical task in organizations is leadership of change. Leading changes successfully requires realizing that the process goes through a series of phases that, in total, usually require a considerable length of time. Skipping steps creates only the illusion of speed and never produces a satisfying result. Critical mistakes in any of the phases can have a devastating impact, slowing change momentum. The most common change leadership errors to be avoided are the following:
- Not establishing a great enough sense of urgency. Most successful change efforts begin when some individuals or groups look hard at a company’s competitive situation, market position, technological trends, and financial performance. They focus on the potential impact of impending events that everyone seems to be ignoring. The group finds ways to communicate this information broadly and dramatically, so that potential crises or great opportunities are clear. Without motivation, people will not help, and the effort goes nowhere. Compared with other steps in the change process, phase one can sound easy. However, sometimes leaders underestimate how hard it can be to drive people out of their comfort zones. Sometimes they grossly overestimate how successful they have already been in increasing urgency. Sometimes they lack patience: In many cases, executives become paralyzed by the downside possibilities. They worry that employees with seniority will become defensive, morale will drop, events will spin out of control, short-term business results will be jeopardized, the stock will sink, and they will be blamed for creating a crisis. Bad business results are both a blessing and a curse in this first phase. On the positive side, losing money does catch people’s attention, but it also gives less maneuvering room. With good business results, the opposite is true: Convincing people of the need for change is much harder, but you have more resources to help make changes.
- Not creating a powerful enough guiding coalition. While some change efforts start with just one or two people, the leadership coalition must grow over time for the change to be successfully implemented. It is often said that major change is impossible unless the head of the organization is an active supporter. The guiding coalition tends to operate outside the normal hierarchy. This can be awkward, but it is clearly necessary because if the existing hierarchy were working well, there would be no need for a major transformation. Companies that fail in this phase may underestimate the difficulties of producing change and thus the importance of a powerful guiding coalition. Efforts that do not have a powerful enough guiding coalition can make apparent progress for a while. Sooner or later, however, the opposition gathers itself together and stops the change.
- Lacking a vision. In every successful transformation effort the guiding coalition develops a picture of the future that is relatively easy to communicate and appeals to customers, stockholders, and employees. A vision says something that helps clarify the direction in which an organization needs to move. Eventually, a strategy for achieving that vision is also developed. Without a sensible vision, a transformation effort can easily dissolve into a list of confusing and incompatible projects that can take the organization in the wrong direction or nowhere at all. In failed transformations, you often find plenty of plans, directives, and programs but no vision. In one case, a company gave out 4-inch-thick notebooks describing its change effort. In mind-numbing detail, the books spelled out procedures, goals, methods, and deadlines. But nowhere was there a clear and compelling statement of where all this was leading. Not surprisingly, most of the employees were either confused or alienated.
- Undercommunicating. Transformation is impossible unless lots of people are willing to help, often to the point of making short-term sacrifices. Employees will not make sacrifices, even if they are unhappy with the status quo, unless they believe that useful change is possible. Without credible communication from leadership, the hearts and minds of the troops are never captured. This phase is particularly challenging if the short-term sacrifices include job losses. Gaining understanding and support is tough when downsizing is part of the vision. For this reason, successful visions usually include new growth possibilities and the commitment to treat fairly anyone who is laid off. In successful transformation efforts, leaders use all existing communication channels to broadcast the vision. They turn boring, unread company newsletters into lively articles about the vision. They take ritualistic, tedious quarterly management meetings and turn them into exciting discussions of the transformation. They throw out much of the company’s generic management education and replace it with courses that focus on business problems and the new vision. Even more important, leaders of change must learn to “walk the talk.” They consciously attempt to become a living symbol of the new corporate culture. Nothing undermines change more than behavior by important individuals that is inconsistent with their words.
- Not removing obstacles. Communication is never sufficient by itself. Leading renewal also requires the removal of obstacles. Too often, an employee understands the new vision and wants to help make it happen, but an elephant appears to be blocking the path. In many cases, the blockers are very real. However, sometimes the obstacle is the organizational structure: Narrow job categories can seriously undermine efforts to increase productivity or make it very difficult even to think about customers. Sometimes compensation or performance-appraisal systems make people choose between the new vision and their own self-interest. Perhaps worst of all are bosses who refuse to change and who make demands that are inconsistent with the overall effort. If the blocker is a person, it is important that the leader treat this person fairly and in a way that is consistent with the new vision. However, leadership action to remove obstacles is essential both to empower others and to maintain the credibility of the change effort as a whole.
- Not creating short-term wins. Real transformation takes time, and a renewal effort risks losing momentum if there are no short-term goals to meet and celebrate. Creating short-term wins is different from hoping for short-term wins. In a successful transformation, leaders actively look for ways to obtain clear performance improvements, establish goals in the yearly planning system, achieve the objectives, and reward the people involved. Commitments to produce short-term wins help keep the urgency level up and force detailed analytical thinking that can clarify or revise visions.
- Declaring victory too soon. After a period of hard work, it is tempting to declare victory with the first clear performance improvement. While celebrating a win is fine, declaring the war won can be catastrophic. Until changes sink deeply into a company’s culture, a process that can take 5 to 10 years, new approaches are fragile. A premature victory celebration can kill momentum and allow powerful forces associated with tradition to take over. Instead of declaring victory, leaders of successful efforts use the credibility afforded by short-term wins to tackle even bigger problems. They go after systems and structures that are not consistent with the transformation vision and have not been confronted before.
- Not anchoring changes in the corporation’s culture. In the final analysis, change sticks when it becomes “the way we do things around here,” when it seeps into the bloodstream of the corporate body. Until new behaviors are rooted in social norms and shared values, they are subject to degradation as soon as the pressure for change is removed. Change leaders need to consciously show people how the new approaches, behaviors, and attitudes have helped improve performance. When people are left on their own to make the connections, they sometimes create very inaccurate links. Helping people see the right connections requires communication. It is also important to make sure that the next generation of top management really does personify the new approach.
This research paper has endeavored to provide the grounding needed to understand and undertake the leadership challenges facing organizations in the 21st century. The first major organizational challenges for the foreseeable future in this century are globalization of organizational membership. Globalization of organizations may be associated with markets, production alternatives, service operations, venture partnerships, and/or strategic linkages. The forces of globalization combined with the growth and expansions of new technologies suggest that the second most significant organizational need is the capacity to undertake change. The effective leadership of change requires leaders who are aware of their own characteristics, are conscious of how followers may perceive certain behaviors, and are sensitive to the cultural differences and similarities. The discussion of alternative leadership approaches provides exposure to a range of approaches that organizational leaders should consider when strategically assessing the needs of 21st-century dynamics. The leadership implications of particular traits invite the reader to “know thyself.” Alternative behavioral models provide strategic choices. The discussion of LMX development provides a look at some of the processes by which leader-follower roles are defined and relationships are established. Finally, a review of the requirements for leading successful organizational change and the pitfalls to be avoided in this process present criteria to consider when taking on the leadership challenge in this demanding but exciting time.
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Leadership styles The research paper compares and contrasts two approaches to leadership, namely the Path-Goal theory and the Situational leadership theory. The analysis grounds on the evaluation of due approaches by Peter Northouse and Nancy J. Adler, as well as the works of other leadership theorists.
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The Path-Goal Theory The Path-Goal Theory regards leader’s capability to motivate subordinates and make them accomplish set tasks. Peter Northouse (2013), argues that the theory emphasizes on the link between the leader’s style, individual features of the employees, and particular conditions of the work setting. The theory grounds on the assumption that a leader should make his/her subordinates believe in their potential and capacity of performing their work. Then, they will know that they are valued members of the organization worth fair payoffs, benefits and promotions. Hence, the most effective leaders of today’s competitive organizations uncover the best talents in their subordinates and make them actively contribute to the achievement of strategic organizational goals. At that, the most effective leaders motivate and develop employees in a way to create leaders around them. Such constructive employee-centered approach ensures high level of corporate loyalty, individual and team performance, cost saving, and organizational profitability and expansion. Given high rates of absenteeism and turnover in the majority of organizations, the implementation of the Path-Goal approach enables corporate management eliminate layoff costs, reduce overtime, and optimize organizational processes. Also, the Path-Goal Theory, fundamentally based on motivation, enables employees to show sound performance and achieve organizational goals (Adler, 2010).
A leader should opt for the most optimal leadership style to make their subordinates both successful and satisfied with their work. The directive leadership style pursuant to the theory complies with the telling style adopted by the situational leadership approach. Directive approach is entirely task-oriented while it assumes task instructions, performance expectations and meeting the set deadline (Adler, 2010).
By contrast, supportive style is more employee-oriented assuming more sympathy to the well-being and human needs of the employees. This is much about leader’s capacity to ensure sufficient work-life balance for their subordinates and arrange productive and positive working environment. Many theorists hold that the establishment of proper working conditions serves as the best motivation to the employees. ‘Feeling at work like at home’ is the best what effective leaders can do for their employees. Further, effective leaders should do everything possible to coach, train, develop and promote their subordinates to the higher levels of organizational structure and professional growth.
In addition, the Path-Goal Theory assumes sharing responsibilities between a leader and employees. The participative behavior advances mutual communication and trust. Participating in decision making processes, employees naturally feel more motivated, valued, and loyal to corporate goals. Participation-oriented style enhances everyone’s belongingness and dedication to corporate values and erases unnecessary subordination between the management and the staff members (Adler, 2010).
Finally, achievement-oriented behavior is featured by a type of leader capable of challenging subordinates and making them accomplish the set tasks to their best capacity. This way, leaders establish high standards of organizational performance and pursue excellence. Organizations seeking permanent improvement and growth gradually turn into domestic industry leaders and internationalize to conquer global markets.
The Situational Leadership Theory While analyzing various approaches to leadership, leadership theorists (Adler, Blanchard, Daft, Hersey, Jago, Killian, Northouse, Vroom et al) explore various methods and feasible solutions they deem optimal to come up with optimal algorithm of effective leadership. For instance, Peter Northouse offers leadership instruments to critically evaluate the outlined concepts. The Situational Theory emphasizes on the features of the followers that determine particular situation and the mode of leader’s behavior (Daft, 2008). Situational Leadership prioritizes on the conditions of the particular situation, while different situations require different approaches to leadership. Thus, the theory stresses on adaptation and flexibility that necessitate leaders adjust to particular (situational) conditions and circumstances. According to Peter Northouse (2007), the concept of situational leadership involves directive and supportive dimension forcing a leader to apply each of them appropriately to a particular situation (p. 55). This indicates that social scientists do not consider leaders apart from specific situations anymore while feasible solutions to leading specific situations demand close consideration of both personal and situational differences (Vroom and Jago, 2007).
In their approach, Hersey and Blanchard extended Blake and Mouton’s Leadership Grid by forwarding the Situational Theory (Daft, 2008). The Leadership Grid prioritizes on team management style that assumes collective interaction to handle organizational duties and responsibilities. While adapting to the specific situation and conditions, a leader analyzes the capability of the staff to perform specific assignments. A leader critically evaluates everyone’s capacities, skills and motivations to adjust each performer to the conditions of each particular situation. At that, leaders are free to shape their aptitude while becoming more directive or more supportive depending on the performance of their subordinates (Northouse, 2013).
The situational theory assumes various options for a leader depending on aligning people-centered and production-centered behaviors (Daft, 2008). People-oriented aptitude focuses on development of supportive relationship. Such behaviors facilitate and encourage team members, and make them feel more adopted to particular work-related conditions and situations (Northouse, 2007). Leader’s supportive behavior mainly grounds on the establishment of a two-way communication to ensure smooth interaction with the staff from both socialization and emotional perspectives. This way, subordinates become more inspired and involved in the conditions of organizational setting.
Leader’s open communication, sharing and delegating responsibilities, as well as empathy to the needs and concerns of the subordinates make them open and contributive. Such behavior enables a leader to assure high quality of task-concerned behavior focused on production and individual input. At that, an organization wins by receiving more input from everyone’s performance and their dedication and loyalty to corporate values. Sound directive behavior assist individual members of the staff to accomplish collective goals; at that a situational leader shows how the staff should achieve organizational goals, gives directions, establishes goals, defines individual roles and delegates tasks, sets timelines, evaluates outcomes. In due sense, Peter Northouse (2007) defines four categories of situational leadership style covering both directive and supportive behaviors, namely a leader’s ability to direct, coach, support, and delegate. Directing emphasizes on goal achievement without substantial supportive behaviors. Coaching emphasizes on developing sound communication to meet socio-emotional of subordinates and achieve organizational goals. Supporting assumes supportive behaviors that help a leader to get the most skills and dedication from their subordinates. Delegating assumes that a leader facilitates employees only with task-focused priorities.
Herewith, much depends on leader’s capacity to develop their subordinates o ensure appropriate level of competence and commitment to accomplish set tasks and achieve organizational goals. The situational leadership model utilizes the development level to categorize employees depending on their competence and commitment. Ultimately, the development level of each employee determines the exact leadership style implemented by the leader. In particular, the directing approach will suit best employees who are insufficiently developed to meet organizational tasks priorities. Moderate-to-high developed employees will most benefit from the supporting and coaching styles, while situational leaders should adjust delegating style to highly developed employees (Northouse, 2012). At that, the deployment of individual leadership styles will depend on the leader’s capacity to reveal talents, skills and motivations in their subordinates (Daft, 2008).
In practice, situational approach consists in leader’s acknowledging relative competencies and commitments of the employees. At that, it is crucial to evaluate the exact level of an employee’s development continuum. Without this, adaptation of the abovementioned situational leadership styles is impossible. Primarily, a leader should critically assess the situation considering the development levels of his/her subordinates. Next, a leader should adapt his/her individual style to the chosen leadership style. Providing that a leader copes with insufficiently developed employees, he/she should deploy a coaching style. At that, the leader should adjust his/her leadership style depending on how employees progress/regress along the development continuum (Northouse, 2007). This indicates that situational leadership does not assume a fixed style for leaders, making them demonstrate high level of flexibility.
Contrast and comparison analysis Both leadership theories outlined above attempt to model the most effective behavior of leaders by adjusting proper leadership styles. The research has shown that much depends on different circumstances and situational conditions, as well as on the human factor. This indicates that effective leader should adjust their skills and competence depending on specific circumstances and motivate their subordinates with the consideration of their individual capabilities. Both theories assume that leadership styles depend on organizational setting and individual employee features.
Being motivation-centered, the Path-Goal theory and the Situational leadership theory hold that individual motivation much depends on leader’s capacity to lead workplace and the employees. Herewith, the theories prioritize on leader’s flexibility allowing leaders adjust to get the best out of their staff and adjust to rapidly changing conditions of business environment.
Situational leadership model assumes that effective leadership depends on situational factors, employee motivation, and opted leadership style. It is vital for a leader to develop sound relationship with his/her followers while utilizing different leadership styles. Such flexibility assures that staff members are confident in their leaders, fully understand their role in organizational structure and know what their managers expect from them. At that they feel motivated and valued, respect formal subordination, and are loyal to corporate values. To ensure this, leaders should direct, coach, support, and observe the performance of their subordinates (Northouse, 2012).
In its turn, the Path-Goal leadership theory assumes that employees’ job satisfaction much depends on the way leaders arrange organizational setting and everyone’s individual performance. At that effective leaders create leaders around them by setting clear goals and charting a path for their followers to achieve the set goals. At that, the ultimate task of a leader consists in determining obstacles and providing right incentives for reaching individual and group milestones within an organizational setting. Once again, much depends on leader’s capacity to be supportive at times when their subordinates need more confidence, instruct them when they cannot understand the set tasks, and demand better performance when employees lack of motivation or fail to meet deadlines. Most situational leaders attain this by establishing open-minded communication practices and involving employees in the decision-making practices (Hersey, 1992).
Based on these theoretical observations, we can assume that both theories are complementary and mutually supportive. In empirical terms, of the situational leadership model offers specific suggestions on how leaders should adapt to different situations by adopting various leadership styles. Initially, effective leaders should prioritize on clear tasks. Next, they should understand the capability of the available resources. Further, they should critically assess skills and motivation of their subordinates. After that, they opt for the leadership style that will suit their strategic leadership purposes most and comply with the particular circumstances or situation. A combination of delegating, instructing, coaching, and demanding leadership styles will ensure their most interaction with various types of employees. The same styles will enable them to motivate their subordinates to achieve the highest outcomes in both individual and group performance. In turn, the Path-goal theory assumes that leaders are perfectly aware about the skills and potential of their employees. This enables them assign responsibilities in proper manner, convince subordinates, and inspire them for future achievements with fair rewards.
- Adler, N.J. (2010). Leadership Insight. Routledge; 1 SPI edition
- Daft, R.L. (2008). The Leadership Experience, Thomson Higher Education; 4th edition
- Hersey, P. (1992). The Situational Leader, Center for Leadership Studies; 4th edition
- Northouse, P. (2013). Leadership Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.
- Northouse, P.E. (2007). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA; 5th edition.
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Latest NVIDIA Graphics Research Advances Generative AI’s Next Frontier
NVIDIA today introduced a wave of cutting-edge AI research that will enable developers and artists to bring their ideas to life — whether still or moving, in 2D or 3D, hyperrealistic or fantastical.
Around 20 NVIDIA Research papers advancing generative AI and neural graphics — including collaborations with over a dozen universities in the U.S., Europe and Israel — are headed to SIGGRAPH 2023 , the premier computer graphics conference, taking place Aug. 6-10 in Los Angeles.
The papers include generative AI models that turn text into personalized images; inverse rendering tools that transform still images into 3D objects; neural physics models that use AI to simulate complex 3D elements with stunning realism; and neural rendering models that unlock new capabilities for generating real-time, AI-powered visual details.
Innovations by NVIDIA researchers are regularly shared with developers on GitHub and incorporated into products, including the NVIDIA Omniverse platform for building and operating metaverse applications and NVIDIA Picasso , a recently announced foundry for custom generative AI models for visual design. Years of NVIDIA graphics research helped bring film-style rendering to games, like the recently released Cyberpunk 2077 Ray Tracing: Overdrive Mode , the world’s first path-traced AAA title.
The research advancements presented this year at SIGGRAPH will help developers and enterprises rapidly generate synthetic data to populate virtual worlds for robotics and autonomous vehicle training. They’ll also enable creators in art, architecture, graphic design, game development and film to more quickly produce high-quality visuals for storyboarding, previsualization and even production.
AI With a Personal Touch: Customized Text-to-Image Models
Generative AI models that transform text into images are powerful tools to create concept art or storyboards for films, video games and 3D virtual worlds. Text-to-image AI tools can turn a prompt like “children’s toys” into nearly infinite visuals a creator can use for inspiration — generating images of stuffed animals, blocks or puzzles.
However, artists may have a particular subject in mind. A creative director for a toy brand, for example, could be planning an ad campaign around a new teddy bear and want to visualize the toy in different situations, such as a teddy bear tea party. To enable this level of specificity in the output of a generative AI model, researchers from Tel Aviv University and NVIDIA have two SIGGRAPH papers that enable users to provide image examples that the model quickly learns from.
One paper describes a technique that needs a single example image to customize its output, accelerating the personalization process from minutes to roughly 11 seconds on a single NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPU , more than 60x faster than previous personalization approaches.
A second paper introduces a highly compact model called Perfusion, which takes a handful of concept images to allow users to combine multiple personalized elements — such as a specific teddy bear and teapot — into a single AI-generated visual:
Serving in 3D: Advances in Inverse Rendering and Character Creation
Once a creator comes up with concept art for a virtual world, the next step is to render the environment and populate it with 3D objects and characters. NVIDIA Research is inventing AI techniques to accelerate this time-consuming process by automatically transforming 2D images and videos into 3D representations that creators can import into graphics applications for further editing.
A third paper created with researchers at the University of California, San Diego, discusses tech that can generate and render a photorealistic 3D head-and-shoulders model based on a single 2D portrait — a major breakthrough that makes 3D avatar creation and 3D video conferencing accessible with AI. The method runs in real time on a consumer desktop, and can generate a photorealistic or stylized 3D telepresence using only conventional webcams or smartphone cameras.
A fourth project, a collaboration with Stanford University, brings lifelike motion to 3D characters. The researchers created an AI system that can learn a range of tennis skills from 2D video recordings of real tennis matches and apply this motion to 3D characters . The simulated tennis players can accurately hit the ball to target positions on a virtual court, and even play extended rallies with other characters.
Beyond the test case of tennis, this SIGGRAPH paper addresses the difficult challenge of producing 3D characters that can perform diverse skills with realistic movement — without the use of expensive motion-capture data.
Not a Hair Out of Place: Neural Physics Enables Realistic Simulations
Once a 3D character is generated, artists can layer in realistic details such as hair — a complex, computationally expensive challenge for animators.
Humans have an average of 100,000 hairs on their heads, with each reacting dynamically to an individual’s motion and the surrounding environment. Traditionally, creators have used physics formulas to calculate hair movement, simplifying or approximating its motion based on the resources available. That’s why virtual characters in a big-budget film sport much more detailed heads of hair than real-time video game avatars.
A fifth paper showcases a method that can simulate tens of thousands of hairs in high resolution and in real time using neural physics, an AI technique that teaches a neural network to predict how an object would move in the real world.
The team’s novel approach for accurate simulation of full-scale hair is specifically optimized for modern GPUs. It offers significant performance leaps compared to state-of-the-art, CPU-based solvers, reducing simulation times from multiple days to merely hours — while also boosting the quality of hair simulations possible in real time. This technique finally enables both accurate and interactive physically based hair grooming.
Neural Rendering Brings Film-Quality Detail to Real-Time Graphics
After an environment is filled with animated 3D objects and characters, real-time rendering simulates the physics of light reflecting through the virtual scene. Recent NVIDIA research shows how AI models for textures, materials and volumes can deliver film-quality, photorealistic visuals in real time for video games and digital twins.
NVIDIA invented programmable shading over two decades ago, enabling developers to customize the graphics pipeline. In these latest neural rendering inventions, researchers extend programmable shading code with AI models that run deep inside NVIDIA’s real-time graphics pipelines.
In a sixth SIGGRAPH paper, NVIDIA will present neural texture compression that delivers up to 16x more texture detail without taking additional GPU memory. Neural texture compression can substantially increase the realism of 3D scenes, as seen in the image below, which demonstrates how neural-compressed textures (right) capture sharper detail than previous formats, where the text remains blurry (center).
A related paper announced last year is now available in early access as NeuralVDB , an AI-enabled data compression technique that decreases by 100x the memory needed to represent volumetric data — like smoke, fire, clouds and water.
NVIDIA also released today more details about neural materials research that was shown in the most recent NVIDIA GTC keynote . The paper describes an AI system that learns how light reflects from photoreal, many-layered materials, reducing the complexity of these assets down to small neural networks that run in real time, enabling up to 10x faster shading.
The level of realism can be seen in this neural-rendered teapot, which accurately represents the ceramic, the imperfect clear-coat glaze, fingerprints, smudges and even dust.
More Generative AI and Graphics Research
These are just the highlights — read more about all the NVIDIA research presentations at SIGGRAPH . And save the date for NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang’s keynote address at the conference, taking place Aug. 8. NVIDIA will also present six courses, four talks and two Emerging Technology demos at SIGGRAPH, with topics including path tracing, telepresence and diffusion models for generative AI.
NVIDIA Research has hundreds of scientists and engineers worldwide, with teams focused on topics including AI, computer graphics, computer vision, self-driving cars and robotics.