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Source: Adapted from Daniel Katz and Robert Kahn, The Social Psychology of Organizations (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1978), p. 539.
Lower-level supervisors administer the policies and procedures of the organization. Successful supervisors need to possess both technical knowledge and a clear understanding of the organization’s rules. Lower-level supervisors must be concerned with equity and with the administration of rewards and punishments, since they continually deal with these issues in leading others, contingency theories of leadership. Leadership plays an essential role in organizational dynamics and often makes the difference between effective and ineffective organizations. As defined earlier, leadership occurs when one person influences others to do something of their own volition they would not ordinarily do. Leadership is an essential organizational process and, like other processes it can be studied on three different levels—the individual, the group, and the organization.
At the individual level of analysis, leadership studies have focused on the traits of successful leaders, At the group level, leadership studies have focused on leadership behaviors of both formal and informal leaders. The organizational level of analysis has examined how organizational effectiveness is deter­mined by the interaction between the leader, the follower, and the situation. These studies have given rise to situational leadership theories or contingency theories of leadership. Each level will be analyzed separately, beginning with leadership traits.

In Search of Leadership
Although early writers attempted to describe the characteristics of effective leaders, systematic investigations of leadership traits first began after the turn of the century. World War I highlighted the need for selecting and training effective leaders, and for the quarter century between World War land World War II, numerous studies investigated the personal traits of good leaders. These studies are generally referred to as trait studies, since their primary goal was to identi6’ the traits and personal characteristics of effective leaders.
A variety of methods was used to study leadership traits, and this variety is probably one reason why the results were so inconsistent. Most studies com­pared effective leaders with ineffective leaders or leaders with non-leaders. The--­studies were inconsistent in the methods used to identify leaders Some were identified by outside observers, some were selected by the group via nominations or voting, others were named by qualified observers such as teachers, and1 some were selected because they occupied a position of leadership such as student-body president or team captain. The studies were also inconsistent -the way they measured traits. In some studies the traits were measured b psychological tests; other studies relied on observers to identify the traits they saw; and some studies relied on the individuals to report their own character traits.
In general, the trait studies were quite disappointing, especially to researchers who had hoped to develop a measure of leadership that predicted leader effectiveness as accurately as intelligence tests predicted problem solving ability. Because of weak results, the focus of leadership research shifted from trait studies to contingency studies, which examined more than just the traits of the leader.
Research on leadership traits should not be dismissed too quickly, how­ever. Although the traits studies were disappointing, they were not worthless.
Several traits produced a significant difference in leadership effectiveness, but they did not act alone. Instead, they interacted with other situational variables to influence leader effectiveness, Four major reviews have surveyed the trait studies, and the results can be summarized according to physical traits, intelli­gence, and personality traits).
Physical Traits
Trait studies examined such physical factors as height, weight, physique, energy, health, and appearance. To the extent that anything can be concluded regarding the relationship between these factors and leadership, it appears that the leaders tend to be slightly taller and heavier, have better health, a superior physique, a higher rate of energy output, and a more attractive appearance.
To illustrate, one of the early studies on the effects of height found that executives in insurance companies were taller than policyholders, that bishops were taller than clergymen, that university presidents were taller than college presidents, that sales managers were taller than sales representatives, and that railway presidents were taller than station agents.” Results of this sort, how­ever, have not always been consistent. While one literature review found nine studies showing that leaders tend to be taller, it reported two studies showing that leaders tended to be shorter. Attractiveness and a pleasant appearance found to be highly correlated with leaders among Boy Scouts: but among groups of delinquent youth, leaders were rated as more slovenly and unkempt.’

In summary, studies of personal characteristics are not particularly inter­esting or useful. The results are generally too weak and inconsistent to be useful in selecting leaders, nor are they useful for training purposes, since very little can be done to change most of these physical traits.

Numerous studies have investigated the relationship between leadership and general intelligence, and they generally agree that leaders are more intelligent than non-leaders. The relationship between intelligence and leadership probably stems from the fact that so many leadership functions depend upon careful problem solving. All three leadership roles—origination, interpolation, and administration require significant mental ability.

One review of leadership studies reported twenty-tree experiments show­ing that leaders were brighter and had greater levels of intelligence.” Only five studies reported that intelligence made no difference. In general, it appears safe to conclude that leaders are more intelligent than non-leaders, but again the correlations are small. Obviously, many other variables besides intelligence influence leadership effectiveness.

An interesting conclusion coming from these studies is the suggestion that leaders should be more intelligent than the group but not by too wide a margin. Members who are significantly brighter than other group members are seldom selected as leaders. Because of their superior intellect, other group members tend to reject them; they are too different from and out of touch with the rest of the group. Individuals with high IQ's tend to have different vocabularies, interacts, and goals, which create communication and interpersonal relations prob­lems.
Leadership effectiveness also appears to be related to two other variables closely associated with intelligence: scholarship and knowledge. Leaders gen­erally excel scholastically and receive better than average grades. General information, practical knowledge, and simply knowing how to get things done appears to be important for effective leadership, and several studies have shown a positive relationship between general knowledge and leadership ability.
Personality Traits
Studies of the relationship between leadership and personality traits have ex­amined a lengthy list of factors. Unfortunately, most of the results have been inconsistent and even contradictory. Only a limited number of personality traits appear to be related to leadership, and most of these relationships are not especially strong. A list of the personality traits most frequently associated with leadership are lead shown in Exhibit 16.2. This list is based upon the 1948 review by Ralph Stogdill were of 124 studies of leadership traits)4 This list suggests that the average leader is use a more social, displays greater initiative, is more persistent, knows how to get things done, is more self-confident, displays greater cooperativeness and adapt­ability, and possesses greater verbal skills to facilitate communication. Studies examining personality integration or emotional adjustment consistently found that leaders were more emotionally mature than non-leaders. Rather consistent. The support was also found for the relationship between leadership and self-confidence or self-esteem. Indeed, the relationship between self-confidence and leadership generally produced some of the highest correlations of any of the personality traits tested Consequently, it is not correct to conclude that personal characteristics are unrelated to leadership; there are indeed some relationships, but they are more complex than they first appear to be.

After four major reviews of the trait studies, researchers concluded that the effective leadership does not depend solely upon a combination of personality the traits. Situational variables were also important: they frequently determined of whether a personality characteristic was positively or negatively associated with effective leadership. Each review concluded that leadership must be examined as an interaction of three variables: characteristics of the leader, characteristics of the subordinate, and the nature of the task.










Socioeconomic position






Verbal facility

Athletic accomplishment




Personality adjustment






Desire to Excel

EXHIBIT 16.2 Personality Factors Most Frequently Associated with Effective Leadership

While the trait studies focused on individual leaders, another line of research examined leader behaviors within the context of a group and attempted to describe what leaders actually do. These studies essentially asked whether certain ways of behaving were more effective than others: How do effective readers behave differently from other group members? Most of these studies occurred during the l940s and 50s.

Various styles of leadership were defined as a result of these studies of leader behaviors. One of the earlier studies compared three leadership styles: authoritarian democratic and laissez-faire. Perhaps the best research on styles of leadership, however, occurred simultaneously at The Ohio State University and the University of Michigan. At each university, researchers identified two leader behaviors that were essentially similar, even though both investigations were conducted independently. These two dimensions of leadership have been to form an instrument, called the Managerial Grid®, that has been used for research and training.
Authoritarian, Democratic, and Laissez-faire Leadership
The contrasting political systems in the United States and Germany preceding World War II inspired one of the early classic studies of leadership that com­pared the effects of three leadership styles: authoritarian, democratic, and laissez.faire.i5 This study involved groups of ten-year-old boys who were orga­nized in groups of five. Each group met regularly after school to engage in hobbies and other activities under the direction of a leader who adopted one of the three styles of leadership. Every six weeks the leaders were rotated among the groups so that each group experienced each type of leadership. The leaders of these groups, who were graduate students in social psychology, were trained to lead the boys using one of three leadership styles. Under the democratic style of leadership, group decisions were made by majority vote in which equal participation was encouraged and criticism and punishment were minimal. Under the autocratic leader, all decisions were made by the leader and the boys were required to follow prescribed procedures under strict discipline. Under the laissez-faire leader, the actual leadership was minimized and the boys were allowed to work and play essentially without supervision.

During the eighteen weeks of this study, the performance of the boys was observed in order to assess the effects of the three leadership styles. Under democratic leadership, the groups were more satisfied and functioned in the most orderly and positive manner. Aggressive acts were observed most fre­quently under the autocratic leadership. The effects of the leadership styles on productivity were somewhat mixed, although actual objective measures of productivity were not obtained. Under autocratic leadership the groups spent more time in productive work activity and had more work-related conversations. However, the autocratic groups appeared to be more productive Only when the leader was present. When the leader left the room, the amount of work-related activity dropped drastically.

The results of this study were somewhat surprising to the researchers who had expected the highest satisfaction and productivity under democratic leadership. This study was conducted under the direction of Kurt Lewin, a behavioral scientist who came to America from Germany just prior to World War Lewin believed that the repressive autocratic political climate he had left in Germany was not as satisfying, productive, or desirable as a democratic society. He expected the results of the experiment to confirm his hypothesis. Although the boys preferred a democratic leader, they appeared to be more productive under autocratic leadership.
Other studies have also shown that democratic leadership styles are not always the most productive. In fact, some studies have found that both the satisfaction and the productivity of group members is higher under directive leaders than democratic leaders. For example a study of 488 managers in a consumer loan company found that employees who had high authoritarianism scores (high acceptance of strong authority relationships) were more satisfied and productive when they worked for supervisors who had little tolerance for freedom.’6 Greater satisfaction with an authoritarian leader was also found in another study of over 1,000 workers. This study found that employees who worked independently but were required to have frequent interaction with their superior preferred and were more satisfied with an autocratic leader. Some examples of such employees are fire fighters, police officers, and admin­istrative aides.

Initiating Structure and Consideration
Following World War II, a major research effort studying leader behaviors was conducted at The Ohio State University. This project involved a series of studies that ultimately produced a two-factor theory of leader behavior. The two leader­ship factors were referred to as initiating structure and consideration, is initiat­ing structure consisted of leadership behaviors associated with organizing and defining the work, the work relationships, and the goals. A leader who initiated structure was described as one who assigned people to particular tasks, ex­pected workers to follow standard routines, and emphasized meeting dead­lines. The factor of consideration involved leader behaviors that showed friendship, mutual trust, warmth, and concern for subordinates.
These two factors were identified by administering questionnaires contain­ing numerous descriptions of leader behaviors and combining the items that seemed to measure the same dimension, through a statistical technique called factor analysis. Some of the statements that were used to describe leader behav­ior are illustrated in the experiential exercise at the end of the chapter. After the data from many employees had been collected and analyzed, the researchers concluded that the responses were measuring just two factors: initiating struc­ture and consideration. These two leader behaviors accounted for about 80 percent of the variance in the responses.
The research indicates that initiating structure and consideration are sepa­rate and independent dimensions of leadership behavior. Therefore, a leader could be high on both dimensions, low on both dimensions, or high on one and low on the other. Since both factors were considered important dimensions of leadership, the early studies assumed that the most effective leaders were high ~n both dimensions.
Subsequent research failed to support the initial expectations. In a study of ~c behavior of supervisors at International Harvester, for example, it was Found that supervisors scoring high on initiating structure had high proficiency ratings but many employee grievances. Those who had high consideration scores had low proficiency ratings and also low absences.’
After extensive research it can now be concluded that the most effective leaders are not always high on both initiating structure and consideration. Although most studies show that leadership effectiveness is associated with high scores on both dimensions occasionally other combinations have pro­duced the highest levels of satisfaction and performance, such as being high on one scale and low on the other or being at moderate levels on both dimen­sions­

Production-Centered and Employee-Centered Leader

About the same time as the Ohio State University researchers were discovering the dimensions of initiating structure and consideration, a similar research program at the University of Michigan identified two similar dimensions of leadership behavior which they labeled production-centered and employee centered behaviors2Production-centered behaviors were similar to initiating structure in which leaders established goals, gave instructions, checked on performance, and structured the work of the group. Employee-centered behaviors were similar to the dimension of consideration in which the leader devel­oped a supportive personal relationship with subordinates, avoided punitive behavior, and encouraged two-way communication with subordinates.
Studies on the relationship between production-centered and employee centered behaviors also found them to be independent dimensions of leader­ship. A review of twenty-four studies dispelled a popular myth which suggested that supervisors focused on either production or employees, and to the extent they focused on one, they were necessarily disinterested in the other. These studies indicated instead that supervisors can be interested in both production and employees.22 Therefore, a leader who has a strong production orientation is not necessarily disinterested in the employees. Knowing an individual’s orien­tation on one leader dimension says nothing about that person’s orientation on the other.

Managerial Grid
A conceptual framework combining a concern for task accomplishment and a concern for people was created by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton called the Managerial Grid.- An illustration of the Managerial Grid is shown in Exhibit Managerial Grid® 16.3. The concern for production dimension is measured on a nine-point scale and represented along the horizontal dimension, while the vertical dimension measures an individual’s concern for people, again using a nine-point scale. Blake and Mouton assume that the most effective leadership style is a 9,9 style, demonstrating both concern for production and concern for people. By responding to a questionnaire developed by Blake and Mouton, individ­uals can place themselves in one of the eighty-one cells on the managerial grid.

Five different grid positions are typically used to illustrate different leadership styles. A 9,1 leader is primarily concerned with production and task accom­plishment and unconcerned about people; This person wants-to get the job - -done and wants a schedule followed at all costs. The 1,9 leadership style reflects a maximum concern for people with minimum concern for production. This individual is not concerned whether the group a small produces anything, but is highly concerned about the members’ personal needs, interests and inter-personal relationships. The 1,1 leadership style reflects minimal concern for both production and people and is characteristic of a person who essentially abdicates the leadership role. The 55 leadership style reflects a moderate con­cern for both people and production, while the 9,9 leadership style reflects a maximum concern for both production and people. A 9,9 leader wants to meet schedules and get the job done but at the same time is highly concerned about the feelings and interests of the group members.

High 9



Country club management

Thoughtful attention to needs of people for satisfying relationships leads to a comfortable, friendly organization atmosphere and work tempo.


Team management

Work accomplishment is from committed people: interdependence through a "common stake" in organization purpose leads to relationships of trust and respect.


Concern for people



Low 1

5,5 Organization man management

Adequate organization performance is possible through balancing the necessity to get out work with maintaining morale or people at a satisfactory level.


Impoverished management

Exertion of minimum effort to get required work done is appropriate to sustain organization membership.



Efficiency in operations results from arranging conditions of work in such a way that human elements interfere to a minimum degree.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Low Concern for production High

EXHIBIT 16.3 The Management Grid

Source: R.R. Blake and J.S. Mouton, The New Management Grid (Houston: Gulf Publishing Company, 1978), p. 11. Reproduced by permission.

The Managerial Grid® is popular among managers, and they have used it rather extensively to assess their leadership style as part of a training program designed to move them to the 9,9 style. In spite of its popularity, however, the usefulness of the Managerial Grid® has not been consistently supported by research. Most of the available research consists of case analyses which have been loosely interpreted to support it. However, empirical research has failed to show that a 9,9 leadership style is universally superior. The demands of the situation, the expectations of other group members, and the nature of the work being performed interact in complex ways that call for a variety of leadership styles. Consequently the 9,9 leadership style is not always the most effective. Although the research has not shown that one leadership style is universally superior, this research helps to identify the important leadership roles that occur within a group. Rather than thinking of leadership strictly in terms of the behavior of the formal leader, it is helpful to think of leadership as leadership roles performed within a group. Thinking of leadership this way implies that leadership consists of leader behaviors performed by any group members, whether they are formally appointed as leaders or not.

The two major leadership roles, initiating structure and consideration are similar to the work roles and maintenance roles described in Chapter 10.” These two roles are necessary for a group to be effective and can be performed either by the formally appointed leader or by other group members. If a task is already highly structured, or if other group members are adequately structuring the task, then efforts by the leader to add additional structure are unneces­sary and ineffective. Likewise, the maintenance role of showing consideration and concern for group members may be performed by other group members thereby eliminating the need for the formal leader to perform this role. In summarizing research on consideration and initiating structure, one review concluded that when the formally appointed leaders fail to perform either of these leader behaviors, an informal leader will emerge and perform them if it is necessary for success and if the group desires success.

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