Cookies on GOV.UK

We use some essential cookies to make this website work.

We’d like to set additional cookies to understand how you use GOV.UK, remember your settings and improve government services.

We also use cookies set by other sites to help us deliver content from their services.

You have accepted additional cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

You have rejected additional cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

literature review on leadership skills

  • NLC Public Service Leadership Literature Reviews
  • Cabinet Office
  • Leadership College for Government
  • National Leadership Centre

A Literature Review on Effective Leadership Qualities for the NLC by Dr Martin King and Professor Rob Wilson

Published 15 December 2020

literature review on leadership skills

© Crown copyright 2020

This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: [email protected] .

Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.

This publication is available at

Executive summary

The review conducted did not produce evidence for a distinct ‘qualities approach’ drawing on the five identified qualities applied consistently across the literature. This is because the review presented a field of research into leadership that is characterised by fragmentation and conflicting nomenclature. These inconsistencies in the findings prevent us from drawing strong conclusions across the literature. Nevertheless, organising the various strands of debate into clusters that capture shared ways of talking about leadership across different theories in the literature can be helpful. The evidence that the five qualities as defined by the National Leadership Centre (NLC) are the most relevant ones is mixed. We summarise the evidence on this and suggestions on how to potentially adapt the descriptions on the five qualities in Section 2. In Section 3, we turn to a discussion about the challenges of a ‘qualities approach’ to the study of leadership. We describe three main clusters of theories in the literature (explained in more detail in the glossary in Appendix II) that challenge the notion that leadership derives exclusively from properties of the individual. These clusters can provide inspiration for an expansion of the NLC understanding of leadership. We then turn to the issue of the outcomes and goals that leadership is measured against in the literature in Section 4. Finally, in Section 5 we report the questions that emerged from this literature review and suggest ways in which the NLC could explore these, including co-productive and qualitative research methods.

Table of contents

  • Our approach to this literature review
  • The evidence of the five qualities in the literature
  • Critiques of a ‘qualities approach’ to leadership
  • Measuring leadership impact
  • Conclusions and recommendations for future research Appendix I: Search terms and key results Appendix II: Glossary Appendix III: Bibliography

1. Our approach to this literature review

The NLC identified five qualities of leadership based on a preliminary review of the leadership literature: ‘adaptive’, ‘connected’, ‘purposeful’, ‘questioning’, and ‘ethical’. The purpose of the brief was to undertake a wider review of the literature exploring the evidence base on public leadership and examining the support for the NLC five key qualities approach. The brief sought to address the following key questions:

  • To what extent does the evidence base support the NLC’s assertion that there are five qualities exhibited by effective public service leaders?
  • How could the NLC’s articulation and definition of the key attributes of effective public service leaders be iterated or improved to better reflect the evidence base?

Based on the questions in the brief, we approached the ‘rapid’ literature review through a general search and then separate ones for each of the five qualities. This review involved six searches of abstracts repeated across five academic databases capturing discussions of leadership across academic fields and disciplines. The results of these searches were analysed through an abstract review. The searches included keywords such as synonyms to capture wider discussion of the qualities, and additional phrases to capture discussion of leadership in the context of public services and under conditions of complexity or uncertainty. The searches returned 9318 results. These results were then filtered further to 575 papers based on the preferences expressed by the NLC, including a broad scope review capturing wider research into leadership qualities; a preferred focus on studies based in the UK and similar regional contexts; discussion of public administration at a senior level in the context of collaboration across sectors and organisations; and a focus on complex or ‘wicked problems’ in the public sector. A full breakdown of the search terms, databases, and results can be found in Appendix I, while the findings of each of the searches can be found in the separate Abstract Search documents.

The search produced results across disciplines (e.g. public administration studies, leadership studies), across theories and methodological approaches (e.g. transformational leadership, distributed leadership), and at different levels of focus (from abstract discussions of the nature of leadership to discussions specific to particular professions). In our review of the abstracts we summarised key themes and findings emerging from the literature, including findings relevant to specific qualities, additional ways of talking about leadership present in the literature, ideals and outcomes, methodological approaches, and theoretical models of leadership. The results of each search presented in the Abstract Search documents include an overall summary, collected themes, referenced papers, and a full list of abstracts. The process revealed a number of trends in the literature, notably a diversity of theoretical perspectives on leadership and a wealth of studies exploring leadership in relation to specific outcomes and goals. The full implications presented by these developments were not apparent through review of the abstracts alone. Therefore, in addition to the abstract review, we conducted deep dives into key papers. We draw out the conclusions from these studies in this paper. In addition, we provide a glossary in Appendix II that defines prominent leadership theories and related concepts featured in the literature.

2. The evidence of the five qualities in the literature

The literature review did not produce evidence for a distinct ‘qualities approach’ drawing on the five identified qualities applied consistently across the literature. The review presented a field of research into leadership that is characterised by fragmentation and conflicting nomenclature. While there was evidence of studies using the same terms outlined in the NLCs discussion of qualities, they were not necessarily writing from a self-consciously ‘qualities approach to leadership’, and there was a lack of unified understanding underpinning the debate. Many studies would talk about the attributes of leadership in terms of style, traits, skills, and competencies. Furthermore, while studies might be interpreted as interested in the quality of connectedness, they might talk about it and understand it in different ways, for example, talking instead of empathy or emotional intelligence. Additionally, studies may import broader theoretical frameworks in describing leadership attributes. Influential frameworks include ‘transformational leadership’, ‘charismatic leadership’, ‘collaborative leadership’, ‘authentic leadership’, ‘servant leadership’, ‘network leadership’, ‘place-based leadership’, and ‘complex leadership theory’, all of which are described in detail in Appendix II. These approaches frame discussion of qualities, meaning that people may use different words for the same concept, or the same word for different concepts, making it hard to assess the evidence available on specific qualities.

It does not necessarily follow from these findings that the five NLC qualities are not a helpful way of understanding leadership. Indeed, the review demonstrates that there is a lack of clarity and coherence in the debate on leadership that might be helpfully navigated by organising the various strands of debate into clusters that capture shared ways of talking about what is valued in leadership that cut across different theories and frameworks in the literature. There is mixed evidence that the five qualities might provide such a useful framework. In the case of ethical and adaptive leadership, there is direct evidence for discussion of these qualities, although there is variation in how they are understood. In the case of connected and purposeful, there is more indirect evidence for discussion of these qualities, and perhaps a need to adapt the articulation of these qualities to better reflect the direction of the literature. Discussion of the quality of questioning is arguably the weakest, or at least a case where there is a lot of overlap with other qualities. We discuss the findings of each individual quality in the tables below.

NLC definition

Adaptive leaders are able to change proactively and constantly learn in a complex, uncertain and volatile world. Number of abstracts reviewed: 141

Summary of findings

Adaptive leadership and the need to learn in the face of complex challenges featured prominently in the literature. The review revealed a more formalised understanding of ‘adaptive leadership’ presented in Appendix II. It should be noted that the discussions of this quality often encouraged a less individualistic understanding of adaptation, in some cases talking of adaptive organisations, relationships and cultures, and organisational agility.

In order to build on this the NLCs definition, it may be helpful to further explore the more specific understandings of adaptive leadership, as well as the relationship between individual adaptiveness and organizational-level adaptiveness.

Trends in the literature

  • Discussion of adaptive leaders was common, including a formalised understanding of ‘adaptive leadership’, adaptive behaviours, and an adaptive leadership framework. Further ways of talking about this quality in the context of leadership included ‘learning’, ‘leaders as learners’, and related concepts included ‘self monitoring’.
  • In addition to talking about adaptiveness as a quality of individual leaders, the literature also included discussion of adaptive organisations, relationships, and organisational agility.
  • There was also some overlap with other qualities discussed in the brief, suggesting for example that in order to be an adaptive leader one also has to exhibit other qualities, such as attributes related to ethical leadership (e.g. trustworthy, authentic, purposeful, forward looking, visionary).

Ethical leaders consistently behave in ways that create trust, and they take a long-term, sustainable approach to fulfilling the organisation’s public service mission. Number of abstracts reviewed: 123

Ethical leadership featured prominently in the literature revealed the complex and multifaceted nature of the relationship between ethics and leadership. It was frequently discussed in the context of more formalised concepts such as ‘servant leadership’ and ‘authentic leadership’. The literature illustrated how the ethical implications of leadership can vary greatly depending on the professional context in which it is applied, and how leadership presents ethical dilemmas and potential tensions between the professional and ethical norms of leadership and what might be commonly perceived to be good.

Given the multi-faceted nature of ethical leadership, there may be a case for crafting a more specific definition, with thought given to how abstract-level definitions of ethical leadership interact with context-specific understandings of ethics.

  • Ethical leadership was by far the most discussed quality of leadership, often in relation to frameworks of ‘servant leadership’ and ‘spiritual leadership’. It should be noted that ethics represents a much broader set of concerns than we might reasonably expect from the other qualities.
  • Abstract-level discussions of the good leader can be contrasted with more context-specific discussions of leadership, including ethical frameworks, norms, and dilemmas encountered by specific professions such as nursing.
  • Within the literature, there is a lot of focus on ‘building trust’ as outlined in the NLC definition with a focus on supporting others. There was some discussion around ‘sustainable’, ‘long-term’, and ‘public service ethos’, which is similar to public service mission.
  • Some concepts that were mentioned in the literature that are not in the NLC definition include ‘integrity’, ‘credible leadership’, ‘authentic leadership’, ‘values’, and ‘self-efficacy’.
  • Ethical leadership is also contrasted with administrative evil, mistrust, and narcissism.

Connected leaders are empathic, collaborative thinkers who consistently work across organisational boundaries to build strategic relationships across the public service. Number of abstracts reviewed: 127

Connected was not frequently discussed in the literature, however the elements of this quality described in the NLC definition were heavily discussed in relation to leadership. It was more common to talk of this quality in terms of empathy, while emotional intelligence can be interpreted as a related concept that features prominently in the research.

The results of the review present two general questions. The first is whether the NLC definition of connectedness is too rich as it encompasses both notions of empathy and collaboration. The second question is whether the notion of ‘collaborative thinkers’ captures the way in which the literature is talking about collaborative approaches as it potentially challenges the qualities approach (discussed in more depth in Section 3 of this paper). This is an area that would be helpful to explore further.

  • Although connected leaders might be a helpful, more holistic way of talking about this quality of leadership, it was more common for this quality to be discussed in other terms including those listed such as ‘empathetic leadership’, but also through concepts like ‘emotional intelligence’ (although this terms obviously relates to a much more specific and contested concept).
  • The description of ‘collaborative leaders’ who build strategic relationships is potentially relevant to a significant portion of the literature that deals with collaborative approaches and relational understandings of leadership (see for example the description of ‘network leadership’ and ‘collaborative leadership’ in Appendix II).

Purposeful leaders display absolute clarity about their mission and purpose, and they are able to see beyond the problems and pressures of the present. Number of abstracts reviewed: 36

Compared to other searches, such as ‘adaptive’ and ‘ethical’, ‘purposeful’ leadership did not return many results. This could be due to the fact that ‘adaptive’ and particularly ‘ethical’ are terms with much wider applications that are likely to be used in research. It may also be that the notion of purposeful leadership is not widely recognised or applied in the literature, even if related concepts feature more frequently.

The NLC could consider linking the idea of purposefulness with the ideas discussed in the literature of ‘boldness’ and ‘motivation’ on top of those of ‘mission’ and ‘clarity’ that are already present in the definition.

  • Purposeful leadership is often discussed in terms of boldness, clarity, clear communication, clear goals, and planning. Related terms include ‘being bold’, ‘having vision’, and ‘thinking outside the box’. Studies also consider the relationship between these qualities and narcissism as a personality trait and charismatic leadership as a leadership type.
  • One might argue though, that the notion of ‘purposeful leadership’ is implicit in the way people frame talk of ‘transformational leadership’ and ‘public service motivation’ (see Appendix II for more details)


Questioning leaders are open minded and seek to understand the views and experiences of others. Number of abstracts reviewed: 42

There was little evidence to support ‘questioning’ as a distinct quality of leadership within the literature. It may be helpful to consider the purpose of distinguishing this quality from the ideas of ‘adaptive’ and ‘connected’ and what might be lost by merging it to these other attributes.

  • Compared to other searches, such as ‘adaptive’ and ‘ethical’, ‘questioning’ leadership did not return many results. Those that it produced, emphasised the importance of ‘curiosity’ and the use of questions (rather than the quality per se) as a means of building trust, respect, constructing authority, and developing and building relationships. ‘Vigilance’ also appeared as a related concept.
  • The concept description shares similarities to the description of ‘connected’ and ‘adapted’. For example, a person who is open minded and seeks to understand the views and experiences of others might be described as ‘empathetic’ in some contexts or perhaps receptive to change and capable of learning and adapting in other contexts. In this sense it may be that the literature tends to discuss these features in ways more aligned with that language.

3. Critiques of a ‘qualities approach’ to leadership

Stepping beyond the discussion of the evidence of individual qualities, the literature reviewed presented a number of challenges to taking a ‘qualities approach’ to the study of leadership altogether. Recent trends in the literature tend to depart from an understanding of leadership as deriving exclusively from properties of the individual. Based on deeper exploration of the key papers in this area, we explain the evolution of leadership studies towards less individualistic theories and the implications of these developments for a ‘qualities approach’ in the section below.

3.1 The evolution of leadership studies

Over the past fifty years, the understanding of public administration and governance in the literature has become increasingly nuanced and complex (Bussu and Galanti 2018, Horwath and Morrison 2007, Heifetz et al 2009). Many recent studies observe a shift from hierarchical, command and control mechanisms to coproduction and/or collaborative action across sectors, organisations and disciplines (Silvia 2011, Avolio et al 2009). In parallel to this, the study of leadership also evolved and branched out in this direction. Heroic, great-man theories that focused on traits and qualities unique to the leader used to be predominant, while now the literature presents more expansive understandings of leadership and its challenges that attend to the relational, situational, and context-specific elements (Bass and Bass 2008).

The shift to this more nuanced understanding of leadership is also a response to criticism of exclusively leader-centred approaches. Accounts of ‘charismatic’, and later ‘transformational leadership’, which emphasise the capacity of leaders to inspire and motivate followers to excel in their work and enhance performance (see Appendix II for more details), have been criticised for being too individualistic in their understanding of leadership. Stogdill (1948 in Bass and Bass 2008) argues that the qualities, characteristics, and skills required of a leader are determined to a large extent by the demands of the situation. Therefore, analysis of leadership cannot be abstracted from the context in which it occurs.

3.2 Three challenges to the qualities approach

As a result of these criticisms, there have been efforts to move beyond an individualistic account of leadership, resulting in a rich diversity of theories and models. These can broadly be grouped into three clusters of literature.

The first cluster (Bussu and Galanti 2018, Horwath and Morrison 2007, Tong et al 2018) responds to the increasingly horizontal and collaborative nature of public administration by rejecting heroic leadership approaches and encouraging us to reframe the leader’s role in terms of those around them. The unit of analysis remains individuals but rather than talking of leaders inspiring followers, these discussions will talk of leaders empowering others, fostering communication, building trust, and enhancing accountability. ‘Authentic’ and ‘servant’ theories of leadership belong to this strand of the literature (see Appendix II for more details).

A second cluster of the literature (Cullen-Lester and Yammarino 2016, Uhl-Bien and Marion 2009, Fairhurst 2007) rejects the individual as a focus of leadership, departing from talk of properties of individuals to properties of relationships, organisations, networks, and systems. Therefore we might talk of adaptive organisations rather than adaptive leaders, or we might think of qualities emerging through an intersubjective process of collaboration or relationship building. For example, the ‘leader member exchange’ theory (Dionne et al 2010) focuses on the relationship between leaders and followers where the quality of the relationship, not the qualities of leaders, determines effectiveness. Other examples of this strand are ‘distributed’ models of leadership (see Appendix II for more details), which consider the potential for leadership to emerge amongst different members of an organisation or network, regardless of their managerial role or seniority. The more extreme examples of this body of literature seek to transcend person-centred approach by focusing on sources of leadership outside of individual people (Ospina 2017). These approaches see leadership as an emergent process and practice intended to cultivate group members’ capacity to navigate to complexity, where leadership can emerge through relationships, system properties, networks as well as individual action. Theories that follow this approach include ‘network leadership theory’, ‘complexity leadership theory’, and ‘collective leadership’ (Ospina 2017, Bryson, Crosby and Stone 2015, Mandell and Keast 2009, Morse 2010) (see Appendix II for more details). These theories offer valuable insights and highlight the limitations of individualistic approaches, however they raise challenges of their own. Some of these more radical approaches are criticised in the literature for stretching the concept of leadership beyond any natural sense of the word, undermining the explanatory value of the term, and inviting one to consider whether such theories are meaningfully talking about leadership at all (Morrison 2010).

Finally, the third cluster of the literature departs entirely from grand theory of leadership altogether, focusing instead on specific types of challenges and barriers leaders face, as well as more specific goals and outcomes (Heifetz et al 2009, Ekstrom and Idvall 2015, Corazzini et al 2014). A prominent approach that belongs to this strand is ‘adaptive leadership theory’ (see Appendix II for more details). This is described not as a theory of leadership per se, but as a practice that mobilises people to tackle tough challenges and thrive (Heifetz et al 2009). The theory is oriented around specific types of challenges that have no ready answers and cannot be addressed with existing procedures and expertise. The activities recommended in the adaptive leadership theory literature may not be necessary or even desirable in other contexts. This approach draws our attention to the possibility that general theories of leadership may be too abstract to be helpful in understanding what is required in response to challenges that leaders face. A general leadership theory narrows our focus to a particular set of challenges anticipated by the theory, and this may neglect other barriers that might be experienced in practice.

An example of where this literature identifies challenges that might not be captured by general leadership theories is highlighted by Ekstrom and Idvall (2015). They discuss leadership challenges experienced by nursing staff, and the implications this has for retention of staff. A challenge the study highlights is the issue of nurses disassociating from their leadership role, concerned that they may appear lazy or bossy, and feeling uncomfortable in their role and therefore job. The discussion presents a specific challenge (the experience of disassociation) and its consequences for a specific outcome (staff retention). While this could be reinterpreted using the language of ‘transformational leadership’ or ‘leader member exchange’, it is not clear this would give us a better understanding of the problem or its potential solutions, rather it might obscure and over-complicate the issue. Intuitively this level of analysis is more helpful to understanding leadership in the context of nursing than the broader understanding introduced by general leadership theories. Further literature highlights the particular ethical dilemmas and frameworks for understanding ethics of leadership within particular professions, as these might present context-specific features (Storch et al 2013, Broussine and Miller 2005, Curtis and Hodge 1995). These discussions suggest a need to pay further attention to what is usefully gained, and also what is lost, by moving from the specific context to much more general understandings of leadership and leadership qualities.

3.3 Implications for the NLC’s qualities approach

To conclude, there is certainly a push from the literature to look beyond individual qualities of leaders and acknowledge the importance of the context and systems within which they operate. This doesn’t reject the validity of a ‘qualities approach’ but it calls for an expansive understanding of the qualities, which acknowledges that these may manifest in various ways and emerge from different sources other than the traditional leader. In this sense, in addition to thinking of adaptive qualities of individuals, the NLC could also consider how cultures or organisations demonstrate these qualities. Additionally, the literature would also suggest that attention needs to be paid to the situation in which leaders operate, including the specific challenges and barriers experienced by members of a system, and the specific goals or outcomes that would be desirable in a given professional context.

4. Measuring leadership impact

The discussion in the previous section considered sources of variety in how leadership is conceptualised and different approaches to understanding the challenges that leaders encounter. It is important to also reflect on variety in how good leadership is measured, and more specifically, the intended purpose of leadership — the goals and outcomes that leadership is judged against. The literature talks about leadership in the context of various outcomes, from the abstract to the context-specific, from outcomes relating to work output to satisfaction amongst employees or the wider public. The findings suggest a need to consider the compatibility and potential tensions between different goals and outcomes and therefore the need to understand the priorities of leadership in a given context, and the nature of the relationship between leadership style and particular outcomes.

4.1 Approaches to leadership outcomes

The impact of leadership is approached from a wide variety of theoretical perspectives and in many cases different theories are accompanied by specific methods of empirical measurement. For example, ‘authentic leadership’ has been approached through a leader authenticity scale and authentic leadership questionnaires (Avolio et al 2009). Nevertheless, it is helpful to note the presence of goals or outcomes that are applied across these different theoretical approaches as a measure of the impact of good leadership. We have captured numerous examples of these at the top of the Abstract Search documents, however the main ones identified in the literature reviewed are summarised in the table below.

This overview shows that the literature has explored leadership in relation to various outcomes. The measures of outcomes can vary; for example, Kotze and Venter (2011) measure an individual’s effectiveness by asking the individual and four colleagues to rate them, while Uster et al (2018) link effectiveness to external measures of performance. Some of the measures are easily verifiable (such as staff retention rates) to other outcomes such as trust or creativity that are more intangible and thus rely on more contested measures and indicators. Outcomes such as trust can be treated as a dependent variable by some studies (Agote et al 2016) and an independent variable by others (Lee et al 2010).

Finally outcomes are measured within different theoretical perspectives. For example, retention of staff has been explored from different theoretical frameworks, notably ‘leader member exchange’ and ‘transformational leadership’ (See Appendix II for more details). Joo (2010) and Joo (2012) both find a correlation between high-quality relationships between leaders and followers and staff retention in studies that utilise leader member exchange theory. Additionally, Wang et al (2018) explore the impact of transformational leadership and emotional intelligence on the retention of nursing staff, finding that transformational leadership and emotional intelligence were significant predictors of nurse intent to stay, with emotional intelligence found to partially mediate the relationship between transformational leadership and intent to stay.

In order to judge the significance of these findings, we would need to be able to establish the validity of the individual studies and the comparability of measures applied across studies to allow for meaningful comparisons, which is beyond the scope of this paper. An important consideration for the purpose of strengthening our understanding of leadership qualities is the extent to which the findings support a causal relationship between a given attribute of leadership and a given outcome, or whether they only establish correlation.

4.2 Implications for the NLC’s qualities approach

These examples from the literature illustrate multiple layers of variety in the research, from how leadership is understood and measured, to the variety of outcomes that are understood to be the desired goals of good leadership. It is beyond the scope of this paper to analyse the strength and validity of individual methodological approaches, the extent to which these studies establish a causal link between a given quality of leadership and a given outcome, or the most effective route to developing these qualities in leaders. Nevertheless, these questions are of importance to our understanding of a ‘qualities approach’ to leadership. For example, is the key to understanding how connected leaders are able to retain staff or enhance creativity emotional intelligence? If so, discussion on leadership development that focus specifically on enhancing emotional intelligence would be an important direction for further exploration. The developments in the literature suggest a need to think about the desired outcomes for leadership and the extent to which these are shared by different leaders, for example, whether particular outcomes are more relevant for particular fields, or specific challenges. Once there is a clearer sense of the desired outcomes and goals of leadership, it is possible to explore leadership attributes relevant to those outcomes and the strength of that research and potential for leader development.

5. Conclusions and recommendations for future research

The review undertaken here provides a wide ranging overview of leadership (with elements similar to a scoping review approach to the literature) through the lens of the NLC five qualities using the academic literature as its basis. Its strength is the breadth of the review and the broad grounding of the five qualities in relation to academic knowledge. The obvious weakness is the depth to which this review has been able to go into the details of the theoretical linkage of the literature with each quality. Another weakness is the limit of the academic literature generally — the context and contemporaneity — which are comparative strengths of the ‘grey’ literature. Literature reviews by their nature are prone to degrees of imprecision, particularly in an area as ambiguous as leadership and a context as complex as the public sector. Different approaches to reviews will always be prone to exaggerating aspects of a phenomenon and occluding others. Given these inevitable constraints, the key question is what to do with the knowledge base that this literature review provides.

Based on the findings and conversations with the NLC team, the following questions emerged as potential areas for future exploration that can advance both the NLC understanding of leadership and its goals as an organisation:

  • What is the most useful balance of considerations between the individual qualities of leaders and the wider relational and contextual elements of leadership in public service contexts?
  • How can the NLC make use of the plethora of theories of leadership that exist within the literature and judge the ways in which these may be helpfully applied in practice?
  • How should the NLC understand the desired outcomes of leadership, how these might change depending on the context and how to navigate tensions between them?
  • To what extent do findings and recommendations on leadership support leaders in interpreting challenges and providing effective leadership in practice?
  • How can leadership qualities be usefully identified, learned, and practised through training?
  • How can the NLC evolve their understanding of leadership overtime to ensure it accounts for the challenges and experiences of today’s leaders and supports their practice?

These are difficult questions and the first step in addressing them is identifying where the relevant knowledge can be found. The review provides a helpful resource to direct further exploration of the existing evidence base relevant to the issues raised by these questions. Further in-depth academic research could yield useful results, potentially in conjunction with ‘grey’ literature. However, the people best placed to provide the answers to these questions are the leaders themselves. Academic research helps to frame the debate but understanding the value of these theoretical insights, where and how they can be improved, requires closer collaboration and co-production with leaders and those who will translate these lessons into practice.

The NLC is uniquely positioned to tap into the knowledge of its network of public service leaders and gain primary insights into the challenges and attributes of leadership. It has the opportunity to genuinely co-produce with leaders the generation of insights into the way they operate in public service contexts and bring about better outcomes. This could be achieved through introducing co-production into the delivery of its programme or through using qualitative/participatory research methods. Using these methods would build the findings of this and other reviews and connect what is a rich but fragmented literature with the practice of leadership in a complex and ambiguous reality.

Appendix I: Search terms and key results

Appendix ii: glossary.

The literature review revealed how the study of leadership has been approached from a wide variety of theoretical perspectives appealing to specialised concepts and understandings of leadership and governance. The glossary below provides an introductory summary of the most prominent theoretical perspectives and concepts that were identified in the review. In each case, the definition is accompanied by a table providing references to papers discussing the theory, where the columns indicate where the theory has been applied in general leadership literature and in discussion of the five NLC qualities. The specific papers referenced in the columns can be found in the six Abstract search documents.

As for notation, papers are referenced by a number (e.g. [17]), where this refers to where the abstract appears in the search documents. An ‘! indicates a particularly important or relevant paper (e.g. [17!]), an ‘n’ indicates where no abstract was present (e.g. [17n]), a ‘-’ indicates limited information available (e.g. [17-]).

Charismatic leadership

Until the 1940s study of leadership primarily focused on individual traits. ‘Great-man’ theories and the ‘warrior model of leadership’ (see Machiavelli, Suntzu) understood leadership, as well as much historical and social progress, as attributable to the qualities of extraordinary individuals. Max Weber introduced the religious concept of ‘charisma’ into social sciences to describe leaders with extraordinary abilities and this notion of charismatic leadership has proven an influential modern continuation of the individual traits approach to leadership. Charismatic leaders are expressive, articulate and emotionally appealing. They are self-confident, determined, active and energetic. They have a positive effect on their followers who identify with them and have complete faith in them. House (1997) presented a theory of charismatic leadership resulting in renewed interest and empirical study of the concept.

Although theories that focus purely on traits have fallen out of favour and have been modified and adapted in recent literature. Charismatic leadership can be understood as a significant modern example of this approach to leadership. It has been influential on further developments such as ‘transformational’ and ‘authentic leadership’ (see p.23 and p.25 respectively), and remains part of the language of the study of leadership.

Transformational leadership

Transformational leadership is a theory of leadership that highlights a leader’s capacity to inspire their followers and thus enhance motivation, morale and performance. This is commonly understood to involve acting as a role model for followers, encouraging followers to act beyond their own self-interest and work for the good of the group, organisation or cause, take greater ownership for their work, to excel and self-actualise. It is commonly contrasted with ‘transactional leadership (see p.24) in which leaders rely on extrinsic rewards and punishments to produce more short term change in behaviour.

Transformational leadership was first mentioned by Downton (1973 in Bass and Bass 2008) and formalised in Burns (1978 in Bass and Bass 2008). Most articulations of transformational leadership treat charismatic leadership as an important dimension of transformational leadership, while including other elements such as inspirational leadership, intellectual stimulation and individualised consideration. Transformational leadership has also been understood to co-exist and indeed augment the results of transactional leadership. Scholars have noted limitations to transformational leadership, principally that the focus on leaders and followers is individualistic and represents only one way to understand and perform leadership (Ospina 2017). Furthermore the framework may be limited in its application to more collaborative and horizontal forms of leadership. Further theoretical developments in the study of leadership have moved away from the individual highlighting the importance of relationships and networks (for example see ‘network leadership’ and ‘collaborative leadership’).

Transactional leadership

Transactional leadership understands leadership in terms of an exchange or transaction between leader and follower, for example the exchange of reward for work. Transactional is often contrasted with transformational (see p.23). The main criticism of transactional approaches is that the rewards provide only basic motivation, may increase work rather than quality and may produce poorer results relative to transformational leadership.

Servant leadership

Servant leadership was formulated by Greenleaf (1977) who argues that leaders are required to curb their egos, convert their followers into leaders, and become the first among equals. The needs of others are the leaders’ highest priority, they are expected to build relationships that help their followers grow, while power has to be shared by empowering followers. According to Bass and Bass (2008) servant leadership shares much in common with transformational leadership such as vision, influence, credibility and trust. It is also linked with other models of leadership including self-sacrificial leaders.

Authentic leadership

Authentic leadership is a nascent but popular concept in the leadership literature that emphasises self-awareness, openness, fair-mindedness and the ethical foundations of leadership. The concept is related to ‘charismatic’ and ‘transformational leadership (see p.22 and p.23 respectively); the suggestion that there are pseudo (i.e inspirational but self serving) versus authentic transformational leaders led to research into authentic leadership (Avolio et al 2009:423). The moral or ethical component of authentic leadership has been questioned. Some have speculated on whether people can remain true or authentic to a value system or organisation that is itself damaging, harmful or corrupt. Similarly one might be able to inspire or build trust in people through superficial means without being trustworthy or honest in your interaction with them. These considerations highlight a distinction and potential tension between the norms or ideals of good leadership and broader considerations of the good. The philosophical foundations and methods of empirical study have also been challenged in the literature.

Adaptive leadership

Heifetz et al (2009) argue that adaptive leadership is a practice not a position. They define it as the practice of mobilising people to tackle tough challenges and thrive. It is an example of a ‘distributed leadership’ model (see p. 31), meaning leadership can be displayed by people across an organisation regardless of managerial role or seniority of position. Adaptive challenges have no ready answers and cannot be met by existing procedures or expertise. Adaptive change is uncomfortable, challenging our assumptions, beliefs and habits. Adaptive leadership requires non-traditional leadership behaviour, whereby leaders do not provide answers and accept a degree of conflict and discomfort to sustain adaptive change.

Three activities said to be core to adaptive leadership are

  • Observing events and patterns without forming judgements about the data’s meaning.
  • Tentatively interpreting observations by developing multiple hypotheses about what is going on.
  • Designing interventions based on observations and interpretations in the service of making progress on the adaptive challenge.

Adaptive leadership has been criticised for failing to conform to traditional views of the leader, stretching the concept of leader to the point where it might be better described as a theory of facilitation. McCrimmon (n.d) develops an argument against the concept that suggests not all leadership occurs in the context of a problem, and not all change entails a response to an adaptive challenge. It is not clear that adaptive leadership makes such assumptions, though it may be better understood as a recommended response to a specific type of challenge rather than a general theory of leadership.

Complexity Leadership Theory

According to Uhl-Bien et al (2007), complexity leadership theory is a leadership paradigm that focuses on enabling learning, creative and adaptive capacity of complex adaptive systems within the context of knowledge-producing organisations. The conceptual framework includes three entangled leadership roles (adaptive leadership, administrative leadership, and enabling leadership) that reflect a dynamic relationship between the bureaucratic, administrative functions of the organisation and the emergent, informal dynamics of complex adaptive systems.

Morrison (2010) provides a critique of complexity theory. While acknowledging its rise in popularity and the valuable insights it offers, Morrison presents a range of concerns with the approach. These include the claim that it can be regarded as disguised ideology conflating description and prescription and that it risks exonerating leaders from expectations of accountability and responsibility.

Related theories: Complex Adaptive Systems: General [75]

Collaborative leadership

Collaborative leadership entails working across boundaries and in multisector and multi actor relationships (O’Leary et al 2010). In discussion of collaborative governance, Getha-Taylor and Morse (2013), observe that the traditional model of leadership development focused on leading within bounded hierarchy and via command and control mechanisms. This approach, they argue, fails to accurately reflect the nature and challenges of leadership encountered in contemporary joint public service delivery, which involves multiple government and for profit and nonprofit agencies. Such an approach must therefore be moderated with a focus on collaborative problem solving, working in flattened structures and incentivising behaviour in new ways. Collaborative governance, collaborative leadership and collaborative management are prominently discussed in leadership literature to highlight these considerations.

Related theories: Collaborative management: General [1][17] Collaborative governance: General:[24][27][29][51] [67][71][87] [107] Adaptive: [34]

Network leadership

According to Ospina (2017), network leadership theory views leader or follower attributions as properties of the system, in which influence relationships define relational structures, whether they be within a single organisation or across inter-organisational and cross sector networks. Silvia (2011) describes understandings of governance moving from hierarchical or command and control mechanisms to public services jointly produced by networks including government and private and third sector organisations. Network leadership can be understood as the study of leadership and management within these collaborations. For example, Silvia and McGuire (2010 in Silvia 2011) find differences in leadership between these two contexts, with an increased emphasis on people oriented behaviours such as motivating personnel, creating trust, maintaining a close-knit group and treating others as equals. The concept is also discussed in terms of collaborative leadership (see p.27). While the discussion of collaborative leadership is often framed as a response to a change in the nature of public administration, requiring consideration of factors including networks, discussion of network leadership appears to centre discussion on those networks and understand further features of the system through this lens.

Leader Member Exchange

Leader member exchange (LMX) refers to the exchange relationship between a leader and member (follower). LMX theory claims that the quality of the relationship between leader and member determines the effectiveness of leadership. High quality LMX relationships yield high levels of mutual trust, support and obligation, while low quality relationships are more instrumental and less effective (Ospina 2017). Associated with Graen (1976 in Bass and Bass 2008), LMX theory assumes that the leader behaves differently toward each follower and that these differences must be analysed separately. This theory is contrasted with most earlier theories that assume leaders behave in much the same way to all group members. Graen (1976) categorises followers as belonging to an in-group and an out-group with different behaviour expected of leaders in relation to these groups. Although it is less leader-centred it remains person-centred, and therefore has received some criticism from those seeking to broaden the object of study to factors external to the individual (such as ‘collective leadership’ on p.31 for example).

Related theories: See also Relational leadership [13]

Distributive leadership

Distributive models of leadership decouple leadership roles from formal positions of authority and propose that leadership may emerge in different locations, drawing on the collective intelligence of an organisational system in which interdependence and connectedness are critical. According to Ospina (2017), shared/distributed theories focus more directly on the relational nature of leadership and its collective dimensions by attending to new demands associated with horizontal relationships of accountability in contemporary organisations. The terms ‘distributive’, ‘distributed’ and occasionally ‘distributary’ leadership appear to be used interchangeably in the literature to capture the same issue.

Collective leadership

Collective leadership theories locate the source of leadership one level up from the individual or the relationship at the system of relationships — the collective (Ospina 2017). The primary source of leadership is not exclusively the leader (see transformational), the dyadic relationship (see leader member exchange), or the shifting roles (see shared/distributed), leadership can also emerge from other system properties such as the networks of interdependent relationships influencing what its members can and ought to do or other processes associated with the new demands of organising to achieve joint results (Ospina 2017:281).

Discussion of collaborative leadership focuses on shifts in the nature of public administration and the changing requirements of leaders, there is more flexibility in how leadership is discussed relative to these changes. In contrast, discussion of collective leadership reflects a more deliberate effort to reimagine the nature of leadership. Relative to some of the more traditional approaches to leadership, collective leadership can be understood as seeking to incorporate these approaches yet also broaden the scope of the object of study. It shares similar theoretical strands with network leadership and complexity leadership theory (p. 28 and p.27 respectively). Ospina et al (2017) argues that collective leadership lenses are particularly helpful in the study of leadership in networked governing arrangements.

The risks presented by expansive projects such as collective leadership is that they are vulnerable to concept stretching, distorting talk of leadership to the point that it loses explanatory value. When the focus moves beyond individual catalysts and persons, it is reasonable to question whether we are meaningfully talking about leadership at all.

Public Service Motivation

Public Service Motivation (PSM) is not a theory of leadership in itself but it is a widely referenced concept in discussions of public leadership. It is defined as an attribute of government and NGO employment that explains why individuals have a desire to serve the public and link their personal actions with the overall public interest. This concept features prominently in literature on leadership, notably in relation to transformational leadership (p.23) and discussions of roles, identity and motivation relating to both leaders and followers.

Leadership of place

Leadership of place is described as an inclusive model of leadership based on systems thinking in a spatial context. It is discussed within the context of New Civic Leadership (NCL), an approach which is understood as an alternative to New Public Management, and a response to the challenges of the complex multi-level, multi-disciplinary environment of a knowledge based economy (Gibney et al 2009). NCL, and by extension leadership of place, draws attention to the power of place in policy making. It is argued that the strong feelings of commitment people have to their locality have been neglected by other approaches to public management theory and practice. NCL highlights the role of place based leadership in spurring the co-creation of enhancing life in a locality. It has been associated with a number of aims, including drawing on the commitment of leaders to their locality in delivering long term benefits for the local community, using and building on local knowledge and building relationships and capacity within a community and local context. It has been observed that the concept of leadership of place is in its infancy and is used by different organisations to mean subtly different things.

Appendix III: Bibliography

Avolio, B., Walumbwa, F & Weber, T (2009). ‘Leadership: Current Theories, Research and Future Directions’ in Annual Review of Psychology, Volume 60

Bass, B. M. & Bass, R., 2008. The Bass Handbook of Leadership; Theory, Research, and Managerial Applications. New York: Free Press

Broussine, M., & Miller, C. (2005). Leadership, ethical dilemmas and ‘good’ authority in public service partnership working. Business Ethics: A European Review, 14(4), 379–391.

Bryson, John M., Barbara C. Crosby, and Melissa Middleton Stone (2015). Designing and Implementing Cross-Sector Collaborations: Needed and Challenging. Public Administration Review 75(5): 647–63

Bussu, S., & Galanti, M. T. (2018). Facilitating coproduction: the role of leadership in coproduction initiatives in the UK. Policy and Society, 37(3), 347–367.

Corazzini, K., White H. Buhr G T,, McConnell E, & Colón-Emeric C (2015). Implementing Culture Change in Nursing Homes: An Adaptive Leadership Framework. The Gerontologist, 55(4), 616.

Cullen-Lester, K L., and Yammarino, F. (2016). Collective and Network Approaches to Leadership. Leadership Quarterly 27(2): 173–80.

Curtis, L. C., & Hodge, M. (1995). Ethics and boundaries in community support services: New challenges.New Directions for Mental Health Services, 1995(66), 43–60.

Dionne, S. D., Sayama, H., Hao, C., & Bush, B. J. (2010). The role of leadership in shared mental model convergence and team performance improvement An agent-based computational model. Leadership Quarterly, 21(6), 1035–1049.

Silvia, C. (2011). Collaborative Governance Concepts for Successful Network Leadership. State and Local Government Review, 43(1), 66–71. Retrieved from

Fairhurst, Gail (2007). Discursive Leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Getha-Taylor, H., Fowles, J., Silvia, C., & Merritt, C. C. (2015). Considering the Effects of Time on Leadership Development: A Local Government Training Evaluation. Public Personnel Management, 44(3), 295–316.

Getha-Taylor, H., & Morse, R. S. (2013). Collaborative Leadership Development for Local Government Officials: Exploring Competencies and Program Impact. Public Administration Quarterly, 37(1), 72–103. Retrieved from

Gibney, J Copeland, S & Murie, A (2009) Toward a “New” Strategic Strategic Leadership of Place for the Knowledge-based Economy. Leadership,5(1), 5–23

Heifetz, R., Grashow, A. & Linsky, M., 2009. The Practice of Adaptive Leadership; Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World. Boston: Harvard Business Press.

Horwath, J., & Morrison, T. (2007). Collaboration, integration and change in children’s services: Critical issues and key ingredients. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31(1), 55–69.

Joo, B.-K. (Brian). (2010). Organizational commitment for knowledge workers: The roles of perceived organizational learning culture, leader–member exchange quality, and turnover intention. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 21(1), 69–85.

Joo, B.-K. (Brian). (2012). Leader–Member Exchange Quality and In-Role Job Performance: The Moderating Role of Learning Organization Culture. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 19(1), 25–34.

Mandell, Myrna P., and Robyn Keast. 2009. A New Look at Leadership in Collaborative Networks: Process Catalysts. In Public Sector Leadership: International Challenges and Perspectives, edited by Jeffrey A. Raffel, Peter Leisink, and Anthony E. Middlebrooks, 163–78. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar

Kotze, M., & Venter, I. (2011). Differences in emotional intelligence between effective and ineffective leaders in the public sector: an empirical study. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 77(2), 397–427.

Lee, P., Gillespie, N., Mann, L., & Wearing, A. (2010). Leadership and trust: Their effect on knowledge sharing and team performance. Management Learning, 41(4), 473–491.

Morrison, K. (2010). Complexity Theory, School Leadership and Management: Questions for Theory and Practice. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 38(3), 374–393.

Morse, Ricardo S. (2010). Integrative Public Leadership: Catalyzing Collaboration to Create Public Value. Leadership Quarterly 21(2): 231–45

O’Leary, R., Bingham, L. B., & Choi, Y. (2010). Teaching Collaborative Leadership: Ideas and Lessons for the Field. Journal of Public Affairs Education - J-PAE, 16(4), 565–592.

Ospina, S. M. (2017). Collective Leadership and Context in Public Administration: Bridging Public Leadership Research and Leadership Studies. Public Administration Review, 77(2), 275–286

Storch, J., Makaroff, K. S., Pauly, B., & Newton, L. (2013). Take me to my leader: The importance of ethical leadership among formal nurse leaders. Nurs Ethics, 20(2), 150–157.

Tong, C. E., Franke, T., Larcombe, K., & Gould, J. S. (2018). Fostering Inter-Agency Collaboration for the Delivery of Community-Based Services for Older Adults. British Journal of Social Work, 48(2), 390–411.

Uhl-Bien, Mary, Russ Marion, and Bill McKelvey. 2007. Complexity Leadership Theory: Shifting Leadership from the Industrial Age to the Knowledge Era. Leadership Quarterly 18(4): 298–318

Uhl-Bien, Mary, and Russ Marion. 2009. Complexity Leadership in Bureaucratic Forms of Organizing: A Meso Model. Leadership Quarterly 20(4): 631–50

Uster, A., Beeri, I., & Vashdi, D. (2019). Don’t push too hard. Examining the managerial behaviours of local authorities in collaborative networks with nonprofit organisations. Local Government Studies, 45(1), 124–145.

Wang, L., Tao, H., Bowers, B. J., Brown, R., & Zhang, Y. (2018). When nurse emotional intelligence matters: How transformational leadership influences intent to stay. Journal of Nursing Management, 26(4), 358–365.

Is this page useful?

  • Yes this page is useful
  • No this page is not useful

Help us improve GOV.UK

Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.

To help us improve GOV.UK, we’d like to know more about your visit today. We’ll send you a link to a feedback form. It will take only 2 minutes to fill in. Don’t worry we won’t send you spam or share your email address with anyone.

September, 13, 12PM ET

The Learning Tech Landscape: Navigating the Noise for Smarter Decisions

Sept 19, 2PM ET

Webcast: Connect and Engage: How to Support the Frontline Worker

Sept 21, 1PM ET

Member-only Q&A Webinar: Learning Tech

Sep 26, 1PM ET

Roundtable: Managing Performance in an AI-driven hybrid work world

Oct 11, 1PM PT

HR Tech Mega-Session: Skills Strategy and the Tech that Powers It

Oct 19, 1PM ET

Member-only Webinar: Learning Analytics

The Future of Leadership: What the Literature Says

August 2nd, 2021


The notion of hybrid work has been with us for a while now, yet it is not exactly clear what this means to leaders and organizations. As Satya Nadella said, hybrid work is paradox where “the vast majority of employees say they want more flexible remote work options, but at the same time also say they want more in-person collaboration, post-pandemic". 1

In addition to hybrid work, DEIB issues are receiving more attention, employee experiences are changing, and the rapid changes in our world are demanding agility from leaders.

To understand how leaders should develop and what skills they need the most, we conducted a literature review. Here’s what we learned.

What we saw:

For this literature review, we identified and analyzed roughly 60 articles, periodicals, industry reports, and blogs – both pre – and post-pandemic. Below are the top 5 themes as well as 5 articles we encourage you to read for more insight.

Future leadership needs to consider remote workers

  • Leaders will be managing increasingly diverse teams

Soft skills are increasingly important

Leaders' digital skills matter.

  • Leaders need alignment and support

The trend of utilizing remote work was growing even before the pandemic. Future of work is most likely hybrid, which means most leaders will be managing people in-person as well as remotely. This poses many challenges for leaders in areas such as performance management, communication, work-life balance, etc. To deal with the challenges and changes, leaders need to adopt a multi-model leadership to lead different groups of people effectively.

Leaders will be leading increasingly diverse teams

Employees expect leaders to take to heart the many social just movements in the last few years. In fact, in the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer , 86% of survey respondents expect business leaders to step up when it comes to societal issues (pandemic impact, job automation, local community issues). 2 and are spending increasing time and energy to ensure diverse teams. Add to that the fact that remote work introduces access to a much larger talent pool: if employees do not need to be collocated, orgs can recruit talent worldwide. Leaders will increasingly be called upon to create strong DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) cultures, which will require deeper skills in relationship-building, sensitivity, culture-building, and inclusion.

While soft skills have always been key to leadership, hybrid work, desire for better employee experience, and a focus on the “human†employee have led to added focus in recent years. In addition to communication, relationship building, collaboration, and conflict management, we’re hearing about the importance of concepts like agility of thought, growth mindset, and grit as well.

Development of these skills tends to be more time intensive and harder to measure, but also increasingly important in building the right culture, developing employees, and meeting new business challenges.

Technology is advancing fast, and the recent move to hybrid or virtual work has further necessitated use of workplace technology. To stay effective, leaders need to understand how to use existing technology, as well as how to leverage it.

Leaders have an opportunity to not just use technology to make the things they were doing before more efficient, but to do completely different things. For example, how can VR be utilized to increase sense of presence (and hence inclusion)?

Leaders need more organizational support

While we read a lot about the traits, characteristics, and skills leaders need to face current and near future challenges, one thing that was missing from the literature was solid ways to support leaders. Most literature suggested leadership training (some of it very inventive), and some suggested regular practice of leadership behaviors, but not many discussed how to leverage existing systems within organizations to support leaders. We think this needs more exploration.

Articles that caught our attention

Of the literature we reviewed, several pieces stood out to us. Each of the pieces below contained information that we found useful and / or intriguing. We learned from their perspectives and encourage you to do the same.

The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work — Are We Ready? 3

Leaders need to be prepared to embrace hybrid work, and that involves considering/rethinking inclusion, relationship building, exhaustion, innovation, and talent management.

"We know two things for sure: flexible work is here to stay, and the talent landscape has fundamentally shifted."


  • Create a plan to empower people for extreme flexibility
  • Invest in space and technology to bridge the physical and digital worlds
  • Rethink employee experience to compete for the best and most diverse talent
  • Prioritize rebuilding social capital and culture

How to Develop and Select Your New Leadership Profiles 4

C. Kim & R. Mauborgne

One of the challenges in leadership profile development is gaining buy-in from managers and leaders. As such, presenting the current leadership as a big picture (instead of individualized description) would have less resistance, and involving leaders in decision making regarding what future leadership profiles look like can further facilitate the process.

"…because the As-Is Leadership Profiles reflect the dominant acts and activities of all leaders at a level, not of particular leaders, not only does defensiveness go down as openness goes up, but a kind of we’re all in this together spirit of collective responsibility for change is born."
  • Identify hotspots and coldspots (“As-Is Leadership Profilesâ€)
  • Identify what leadership acts and activities should be eliminated, reduced, raised, and created
  • Develop alternative To-Be Leadership Profiles
  • Have top management select the To-Be Leadership Profiles to move forward on

2021 Leadership Development Survey: The Times They are a Changing… 5

M. Leimbach

The shift in 2020 in terms of leadership development focuses indicate that the future of leadership is anticipated to be soft-skill oriented and socially responsible. Leaders need to learn to provide support and facilitate hybrid work.

" While the past year has been stressful, it also has opened a window of opportunity to make significant and meaningful change in how we develop leaders, transition to the next generation of leaders, and measure our success in leadership development."
  • Leverage senior executive engagement and investment in remote learning
  • Improve manager support of the next generation of leaders
  • Sustain the priority of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Focus on organizational outcomes

Purpose, or ‘purpose- washing’? A crossroads for business leaders 6

A. Murray & B. Simpson

Having authentic purposes can help employees in multiple aspects, such as raising engagement and inspiring innovation. However, to really benefit from authentic purposes, devoting time and resources to pursue stated purposes is necessary. Purpose-driven employees, in turn, can support business operations.

"A powerful mix of forces … have led an ever-growing group of corporate leaders to recognize that a focus on profit is not enough. Purpose beyond profit has become a necessary ingredient for exceptional business success.â€
  • Consider purpose as a long-term success necessity while profit as a short-term success measurement
  • Hear what employees have to say when determining what purposes can support them
  • Inspire innovation and creativity through raising purpose
  • Utilize measurable success factors to demonstrate said purposes are indeed followed and pursuit.

Digital mastery: The skills needed for effective virtual leadership 7

Past research and theory demonstrated that these skills are especially important in a virtual work environment. The center of these skills are communication facilitating and relationship building, because virtuality introduces a barrier in these two areas.

"The Use of Virtual Teams by organizations is growing, thereby creating a need for virtual leadership skills, since it is more challenging to lead in a virtual environment, than in a face-to-face environment because of the lack of nonverbal communicationâ€
  • Build trust and embrace diversity
  • Learn to utilize technologies
  • Understand communication difficulties and always be clear and non-critical
  • Create an open and supportive environment

Additional Articles to Check Out:

  • “ How to Manage a Hybrid Team â€, HBR, Rebecca Knight, 2020.
  • “ 6 Steps To Achieving The New Leadership Development Paradigm ," American Management Association, P. Eccher, 2021.
  • “ The hybrid work paradox ," LinkedIn, S. Nadella, 2021.
  • “ Are Your Managers in Sync with Your Change Strategy? ", J. Fuller & B. Theofilou, HBR, 2021.
  • “ Leading with Authenticity in a Hybrid World â€, Training Industry, Scott Simmons, 2021.

Other thoughts:

The fast pace of most businesses and hybrid work is likely here to stay, which means leaders need to develop and emphasis on a different set of skills. This point was made loud and clear in the research. However, there were several things we think should be addressed that weren’t:

  • We saw that demands from leaders are rising in hybrid work, but we did not see articles suggesting how leaders themselves can be supported.
  • We saw a possibility in organizational growth during the pandemic, but we did not see how specifically the growth could/should continue when work is hybrid (sure we can hire globally, but do we have the appropriate systems in place to manage a remote global workforce? If not, how to build these?)
  • We saw suggestions in balancing employees’ work-life balance by thinking and considering for the employees, but specifically to what degree employees should receive support from their leaders? In other words, when should leaders stop help balancing and say “hey, it’s your family not mineâ€?

What do you think leaders and orgs should be aware of? We’d love your thoughts on this. If you are interested, you can also email us to schedule a conversation to share your thoughts!

Dani Johnson Redthread Research

Dani Johnson

literature review on leadership skills

  • “ The hybrid work paradox ,” LinkedIn, S. Nadella, 2021.
  • 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer
  • “The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work: Are We Ready?_Original report,” Microsoft, N.A., 2021.
  • “ How to Develop and Select Your New Leadership Profiles,” Insead Knowledge, C. Kim & R. Mauborgne, 2014.
  • “ 2021 Leadership Development Survey: The Times They are a Changing…,” Training Magzine, M. Leimbach, 2021.
  • “ Purpose, or ‘purpose- washing’? A crossroads for business leaders,” Fortune, A. Murray & B. Simpson, 2020.
  • “ Digital mastery: The skills needed for effective virtual leadership â€, International Journal of e-Collaboration, S. R. ROY, 2012.


Essential Leadership Qualities: a brief literature review

Essential Leadership Qualities

Communication skills are also crucially important to be possessed by organisational leaders (Gallos, 2008, Bertocci and Bertocci, 2009). Gallos (2008) explains the importance of communication skills for organisational leaders by referring to the fact that leaders need to communicate with different organisational stakeholders in a daily basis, and each category of these stakeholders pursue varying aims and objectives.

According to Stanfield (2009) and Bertocci and Bertocci (2009) decisiveness marks important trait for organisational leaders. When discussing this specific leadership trait Stanfield (2009) refers to The Great Man leadership theory, and argues that individuals born with leadership skills are tend to be more decisive than individuals who have acquired their leadership skills on the course of their lives. However, Stanfield (2009) does not offer any evidences based on empirical studies to justify this viewpoint.

Similarly, self-confidence has been viewed by Goldsmith et al. (2010) and Gold et al. (2010) as another important leadership trait. Goldsmith et al. (2010) conclude that the value of self-confidence as a leadership trait increases in times of crises when  leaders need to be able to take decisions while a wide range of factors remain uncertain.

In their analysis of an alternative leadership quality, integrity, Gold et al. (2010) convincingly argue that the lack of integrity associated with any organisational leader is difficult to conceal in modern times due to the rapidly advancing levels of internet and various forms of information technology.

Moreover, a high level of dedication to work is perceived to be highly important leadership skills by Shriberg (2010). To justify his stand Shriberg (2010) mentions the case studies of successful organisational leaders such as Apple’s late Steve Jobs and former CEO of General Electric Jack Welch, where high level of dedication to the company and employees have enabled organisational leaders to achieve unparalleled success.

Additional important leadership skills and competencies identified as a result of preliminary literatures review include assertiveness (Wart, 2007, Kreitner and Cassidy, 2012), humility (Gallos, 2008), sense of humour (Stanfield, 2009, DuBrin, 2012), openness (Goldsmith et al., 2010), creativity (Kezar et al., 2011) and fairness (Stanfield, 2009, Kezar et al., 2011).

Bertocci, D, I. & Bertocci, D.L. (2009) “Leadership in Organisations: There is a Difference Between Leaders and Managers” University Press of America

Gallos, J.V. (2008) “Business Leadership: A Jossey-Bass Reader” 2 nd edition, John Wiley & Sons

Goldsmith, M. Baldoni, J. & McArthur, S. (2010) “The AMA Handbook of Leadership” AMA

Kezar, A.J., Carducci, R. & McGavin, M.C. (2011) “Rethinking the “L” Word in Higher Education: The Revolution of Research on Leadership” John Wiley & Sons

Kreitner, R. & Cassidy, C. (2012) “Management” Cengage Learning

Shriberg, A. (2010) “Practicing Leadership: Principles and Applications”, 4 th edition, John Wiley & Sons

Stanfield (2009) “Defining Effective Leadership: Lead in Whatever You Do” Tate Publishing

Wart, M.V. (2008) “Leadership in Public Organisations: An Introduction” M.E. Sharpe

The Sport Journal Logo

Leadership Development Method: A literature review of leadership development strategy and tactics

Authors: Christopher P Johnson

Corresponding Author: Christopher P Johnson, MS [email protected]

Christopher P. Johnson is a college lecturer and co-founder/ head strength and conditioning coach at Boston Strength and Conditioning, llc in Newton, Ma. He received his Masters of Management degree as well as his Bachelors of Science Degree in Sports Science from Lasell College, and is currently pursuing a terminal degree through the Academy.

ABSTRACT This article is intended to provide young and new coaches with a comprehensive overview of existing research of a leadership development method for improving their leadership skills regardless of field. A broad range of existing literature related to leadership was compiled, examined, analyzed, and disseminated. The examined research findings suggest correlations between leaders of different fields can be made and used as advice for emerging leaders. Furthermore, existing research clearly supports a strong positive correlation between learning through experience and the art of followership as well as benefits of a method by which to teach these skills. A leadership development method serves as an excellent tool to further engage coaches desiring to improve their leadership knowledge and skills. By developing an understanding of the concepts identified and incorporating the practices prescribed within this essay, coaches may establish strategies that effectively expose them to the appropriate mentors and mentorships.

Keywords: Leadership, Teamwork, Coaching, Mentor, Followership, Sport Leadership, Military leadership

INTRODUCTION Simply having the answers does not solve a problem. William Deresiewicz, Ph.D., author of several books and speeches regarding leadership believes there is a disconnect between how leadership is being taught and what constitutes leadership in a traditional sense. A fundamental aspect of teaching leadership that Dr. Deresiewicz believes is being overlooked is teaching people how to be thinkers (22). The ability to think and understand what the answers mean and how to employ them is key to successfully employing knowledge. By providing a universal leadership development framework using leadership development methods that this researcher has identified across research, it provides researchers with a method to think, learn, and apply the leadership characteristics uncovered in this study.

After a detailed examination of literature concerning leader and team development strategies, learning through experience and the art of followership were considered significant.

Learning through Experience Dr. Stephen Butler (S. Butler, personal communication, 2016) mentioned during a phone conversation, he begins his first class during his leadership courses with “leadership cannot be taught, but it can be learned.” This researcher has identified two main elements of learning through experience, mimicking, and trial and error. Action is a main element of leadership and action is something that can only be learned through mimicking what is observed. As much as reading about an action such as leadership can prepare people for what is to come in theory, it does not allow for mistakes to be made and lessons learned. The actual experience of leading is the only thing that will improve leadership. When an individual is engaged in a real environment allowing him/her to observe leadership in real-time and make impacting leadership decisions, it allows him/her to create an image of leadership identity, manage perceptions, and develop his/her own leadership style modeled upon mentors and coaches. By operating in a hands-on real-time environment, it allows leaders to develop skills such as empathy and communication that can only be mastered through experience (14, 16, 29).

Fast and Jensen (2006), studied the network of National Football League (NFL) coaches to determine what characterizes champion coaches. As the John Stumpf once said, “A’ people hire ‘A’ people, but ‘B’ People hire ‘C’ people; they’re concerned that that person might make them look bad.” Their findings suggested championship coaches were mentored by previous championship coaches. They also determined that championship coaches mentor fewer coaches than non-championship coaches. Furthermore, the most talented coaches stayed with a single mentor until they were promoted. This shows that success breeds success, having a single proven mentor is significantly more productive than multiple non-successful mentors. One of the ways people learn is by mimicking role models, otherwise known as the chameleon effect (6). When people are exposed to effective leadership traits, they learn how to cultivate those traits into a manner that works in their scenario. This appears to be what is occurring within the NFL network of coaches and is a significant aspect of learning through experience.

New York Times bestselling author Robert Greene believes people today are steering away from the value of apprenticeships. People today want to be running the show after a few months without putting in the years of trial and error mimicking a mentor. Mastery is not something that manifests itself from nothing, it is the accumulation of years of training towards a passion (20). Simon Sinek mentioned something similar in an interview with Inside Quest, mentioning that the generation known as millennials by no fault of their own are over-accustomed to instant gratification. This is affecting their job satisfaction and strength of relationships. The achievements they desire take time and millennials are not always aware how much time mastery can take (28).

Trial and error is another way in which people learn through experience (24). How are future leaders going to learn from their mistakes or how to deal with followers who disagree with their beliefs without hands on experience? Per leadership expert and the first professor of leadership John Adair (1973), leadership involves understanding three elements, the achievement of a goal or a task, the group of people performing the task, and each individual member of the group involved in the task. Leaders cannot learn the intrinsic attributes of people, how they work as a group, and what motivates them towards a goal without hands on experience. Although scenarios and case studies can be performed in a classroom, trial and error is where leaders learn to understand social differences.

The Art of Followership Followership is the infrastructure of teams. There is a heroic mindset often associated with leaders that they dictate orders and lead the way to victory for their servant and grateful followers. The dynamic process of leadership revolves around the art of followership and could not be further from the ‘heroic save the day’ leader mindset. In the military, commissioned and non-commissioned officers work hand in hand during all tasks. Although, a commissioned officer has higher rank than a non-commissioned officer, non-commissioned officers are one of the greatest sources of practical knowledge (30). Followers influence leaders as much as leaders influence followers. The two roles are symbiotic operating on a two-way street. Followers lead their leaders by providing a purpose for leaders to exist. In other words, if there were no followers, leaders would not have a purpose.

Influence is a delicate force traded like currency between leaders and followers. Traditional thought crafts influence as a natural resource rather than a valuable commodity to be earned and used cautiously (8). The dynamic nature of influence is carved by the environment in which it takes place. With that said, the environment in which the leaders and followers operate affects influence as much as the individuals themselves and should be taken into equal consideration.

Ruggieri (2013) examined variables such as fostering group cohesiveness and promoting efficacy in goal attainment when determining a leader’s level of influence. Ruggieri examined the transactional leadership model and the transformational leadership model to determine which model would produce the higher group cohesiveness and promote the greatest efficacy goal attainment. Results showed self-sacrifice as significant to leadership. The researcher determined that followers can relate to the leader’s self-sacrifice which increased team identification between the leader and followers. It was also noted that leader’s attitudes and behaviors are essential to maximizing their effectiveness. Followership is only as effective as its composing relationships, positive mental models, cohesion, and collective efficacy.

Johnson-Laird (1983) described mental models as sets of beliefs about the world. People rely on their mental models to create new ideas (32). Positive mental models are a valuable piece of followership as they illustrate how an individual perceives his/her impact on team performance (4). Establishing positive mental models improves an individual’s internal environment. This in return improves his/her positive environment, which enhances the team experience.

Cohesion is the glue in followership and is strengthened in two ways. First is through open vertical and horizontal communication channels between leaders and followers as well as followers and leaders, which encourage cohesion and create a positive environment of acceptance. Creating an accepting culture allows group integration-task and group integration-social activities to improve (17). By improving group integration-task and group integration-social activities, it allows group members to increase shared meaning. Shared meaning is essential to articulating shared meaning context and common language, which is necessary to make sense of each other’s actions and allow group members to work together more effectively (5).

Positive environments are also essential to leadership development because they cultivate deliberate and controlled actions to be taken rather than automatic and instinctive actions. Positive environments are less stressful and leaders make clear and thought-out decisions in these environments. As stress rises, automatic and instinctive decision-making processes take over. This is an issue for leaders because it causes them to make decisions based upon previous experience, which may no longer be applicable (31). People desire patterns and rhythms, when they are stressed they seek familiar patterns and rhythms as shortcuts. Leaders have used them throughout evolution to aid with connecting the dots. Sometimes what they see is there and sometimes it is not (26). Additionally, positive environments allow leaders to enter discovery mode rather than defensive mode. Discovery mode occurs when leaders are allowed their space and are free from judgment. Once people feel threatened they enter defensive mode. A well-meaning act such as judgment makes someone feel unsafe and sends him/her into defensive mode, which can inhibit their ability to effectively lead (31).

Challenge is the second aspect of cohesion. Challenge is a force, pulling people together like gravity. Gibbons and Ebbeck (2011), when replicating an earlier study, discovered that team building physical challenges provided beneficial self-conception outcomes for students. Additionally, when a challenge activity was used to increase team building by Shiperd et al. (2014), it was found to provide an effective technique to utilize in performing together and allowed teams to utilize innovative designs to their problems. Challenge activities provide leaders with an opportunity for teammates to discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses as well as who should be responsible for what role and who works best together. Leaders who stimulated a brief strategy discussion prior to starting performance showed better outcomes than leaders who did not allow their teams to hold a brief strategy discussion prior to engaging in challenge (9). Bonding periods such as this create experience as teammates, which improves interconnectedness, coordination, shared knowledge, mental models, and collective-efficacy (4, 12).

Bandura ( 1997) defined Collective-efficacy as, “a group’s shared belief in its conjoint capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given levels of attainments” (p. 477). It is a group’s shared goals and collaborative decision making that encourage collective efficacy (21). Challenges as mentioned above, are an excellent tool for improving collective efficacy within a team. By operating in a collaborative environment towards a fixed objective, team members must come together to solve problems. The better the team is at making decisions as a group towards their challenge goal, the more effective they are as a team (8, 9, 16, 17, 23, 27, 29, 31).

Table 1

Research has indicated that well-planned leadership development strategies are a factor in inspiring individuals towards success (2, 10, 19). As such, interventions aimed at improving development should take into account a universal leadership development method such as the one described above with research backed findings across an array of disciplines published in reputable professional journals as acceptable methods of coaching athletes.

METHODS Existing research related to leadership methods of developing leadership was extensively examined. Research findings published in reputable professional journals served as the primary sources for gathering information. Research findings were then analyzed, conclusions were formulated, and suggestions for the application of methods associated with developing a universal leadership method were spread.   RESULTS Learning through Experience Several articles on the concept of learning through experience have shown to be effective at building leadership (1, 11, 14, 16, 22, 24, 29). The benefit appears to be due to mimicking (6, 20, 28), as well as trial and error (1, 24). The acts of mimicking and trial and error allow the student leader to create an image of leadership identity, manage perceptions, and develop his/her own leadership style modeled upon successful mentors and coaches.

The Art of Followership Followerships are a significant part of mastery. The arts and sciences have been using followerships as a means for young apprentices to improve their knowledge and skills craft for generations (2, 18). Followerships have been shown to only be as effective as their composing relationships, positive mental models, cohesion, and collective efficacy (3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 15, 16, 17, 21, 23, 25, 26, 27, 29, 31, 32).

DISCUSSION Learning through Experience Learning through experience has been justified in leadership development (1, 11, 14, 16, 22, 24, 29). First examining mimicking (6, 20, 28). Second, examining the trial and error (1, 24). Learning through experience utilizes mimicking as well as trial and error as a means of discovering what to do and what not to do as a leader. When we learn by mimicking successful leaders we aspire to emulate, and learning from our mistakes along the way, it has the tendency to stick better than simply reading it in a book.

The Art of Followership Leaders will only excel if they have other leaders to first follow. It has been said that leaders must also be good followers. For this reason, leaders have been grasping the traits of their craft for generations by acquiring a mentor and learning what to and not to do from that mentor. In recent years, a desire to rush the mentorship process has been observed and by acknowledging this trend, we as influencers of effective leadership development can re-engage new leaders in mentorships. Beginning their leadership journey by observing and acquiring more responsibility as their mentor deems appropriate. The real question that needs to be asked is, where do young leaders find mentors? By knowing where to get a mentor, aspiring leaders can start their leadership journey at an earlier age and go through it with more confidence.

CONCLUSIONS Creating Effective Leaders Through Experience By having specifics to focus upon and accomplish during a leadership development program it helps teachers of leadership focus on a methodical system of improving future leaders. The students of today are tomorrow’s leaders. An effective leader is one who has risen up the ranks both academically and with hands on experience. To do so, leaders need to join a mentorship with an effective leader they admire and, in the beginning, observe that mentor, increasing their hands-on involvement as they progress through their career.

How this leadership development process is performed is at the discretion of the mentor, but special attention should be placed on a positive and nurturing environment where the mentor is “in the trenches” working alongside their mentoree so the mentoree can observe and mimic their mentor’s style as they create their own leadership identity.

APPLICATIONS IN SPORT Effective leaders are leaders who have matured throughout the years into the leadership style that best suits them, their followers, and their environment. Knowing this, cultivating a universal leadership development method for young coaches to enhance their knowledge and improve their skills is beneficial for sports.

By implementing guidelines regarding what coaches should expect from a mentorship, it gives coaches the guidance they need to choose the most appropriate mentor for them. This is especially true for new or young coaches lacking experience but also holds true for experienced veteran coaches who understand we all constantly need to improve or risk becoming irrelevant.

Leadership is an underlying aspect of coaching just as important as knowing the skills of the sport. Many times, we have seen amazing athletes turn out to be poor coaches and effective leadership skill is a main reason why these coaches lack the ability to share their knowledge and skills. A universal leadership development method shows these coaches how to learn the skills they need to properly disseminate their experience.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS None   REFERENCES 1. Adair, J. E. (1973). Action centered leadership. London, England: McGraw-Hill. 2. Avolio, B. J., Gardner, W. L. (2005). Authentic leadership development: Getting to the root of positive forms of leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 16(3), 315-338. 3. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: W. H. Freeman. 4. Boies, K., Howell, J. M. (2009). Leading military teams to think and feel: Exploring the relationship between leadership, soldiers’ cognitive and affective process, and team effectiveness. Military Psychology, 21(2), 216-232. 5. Bjorn, P., & Ngwenyama, O. (2008). Virtual team collaboration: building shared meaning, resolving breakdowns and creating translucence. Information Systems Journal, 19(3), 225-339. 6. Chartrand, T. L., & Bargh, J. A. (1999). The chameleon effect: The perception-behavior link and social interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(6), 893-910. 7. Collins, D. B. and Holton, E. F. (2004), The effectiveness of managerial leadership development programs: A meta-analysis of studies from 1982 to 2001. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 15: 217–248. doi:10.1002/hrdq.1099 8. Collinson, D., & Tourish, D. (2015). Teaching leadership critically: New directions for leadership pedagogy. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 14(4), 576-594. 9. Dalenberg, S., Vogelaar, A. L. W., & Beersma, B. (2009). The effect of a team strategy discussion on military team performance. Military Psychology, 2, 31-46. 10. Darling-Hammond, L., LaPointe, M., Meyerson, D., Orr. M. T., & Cohen, C. (2007). Preparing School Leaders for a Changing World: Lessons from Exemplary Leadership Development Programs. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, Stanford Educational Leadership Institute. 11. Fast, A., & Jensen, D. (2006). The NFL coaching network: Analysis of social network among professional football coaches. American Association for Artificial Intelligence. Retrieved from FS06-02017.pdf 12. Filho, E., Tenenbaum, G., & Yang, Y. (2015). Cohesion, team mental models, and collective efficacy: Towards an integrated framework of team dynamics in sport. Journal of Sports Sciences, 33(6), 641. 13. Gibbons, S. L., & Ebbeck, V. (2011). Team building through physical challenges in gender-segregated classes and student self-conceptions. Journal of Experimental Education,34(1), 71-86. 14. Harris, N. (2016). Leadership Development: An examination of the influence of sports experiences on leadership development of former female collegiate athletes (Doctoral dissertation, University of LaVerne). Retrieved from 15. Johnson-Laird, P. N. (1983). Mental models: Towards a cognitive science of language, inference, and consciousness 6. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 16. Jonathan, D. P. (2003). Can leadership be taught? Perspectives from management educators. ACAD MANAG LEARN EDU. 2(1), 54-67. 17. Kim, S., Magnusen, M., & Andrew, D. P. S. (2016). Divided we fall: Examining the relationship between horizontal team communication and team commitment via team cohesion. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 11(5), 625. 18. Latour, S. M., Rast, V. J. (2003). Dynamic Followership the Perquisite for Effective Leadership. Air & Space Power Journal. 19. Leskiw, S., & Singh, P. (2007) “Leadership development: learning from best practices”, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 28 Issue: 5, pp.444-464, 20. McKay, B. (Producer). 2013, May 20). Mastery with Robert Greene. [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from 21. Maddux, J. E. (2002). Self-efficacy: The power of believing you can. In C. R. Snyder & S. Lopez (Eds), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 257–276). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 22. McKay, B. (Producer). (2016, December 15). Solitude, friendship, and how not to be an excellent sheep. [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from 23. Morath, R. A., Leonard, A. L., & Zaccaro, S. J. (2011). Military leadership: An overview and introduction to the special issue. Military Psychology, 23(5), 453-461. 24. Nicolosi, G., & Peng, L. (2008). Do individual investors learn from their trading experience? Journal of Financial Markets, 12(2), 317-336. 25. Ruggieri, S. (2013). Leadership style, self-sacrifice, and team identification. Social Behavior and Personality, 41(7). 26. Shermer, M. (2008, December). Patternicicty: Finding meaningful patterns in meaningless noise. Scientific America, retrieved from 27. Shiperd, A. M., Basevitch, I., Renner, K. B., & Siwatu, K. O. (2014). Development and evaluation of a team building intervention with a U.S. collegiate rugby team: A mixed methods approach. Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, 6(2), 31-48. 28. Sinek, S. (Producer). (2016, December 30). The Millennial Question [Video file]. Retrieved from 29. Tillman, B. (2015). ‘The big e’ leadership factory. Naval History, 29(4), 16-21. 30. The Officer/ NCO Relationship. (1997). Department of The Army. 31. Webb, C. (2016). How small shifts in leadership can transform your team dynamic. McKinsey Quarterly, 2, 74-81. 32. Xiang, W., Sun, L., Chen, S., Yang, Z., & Liu, Z. (2015). The role of mental models in collaborative sketching. International Journal of Technology & Design Education, 25(1), 121-136.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Share this:

Share this article, choose your platform.


  • The Magazine
  • Newsletters
  • Managing Yourself
  • Managing Teams
  • Work-life Balance
  • The Big Idea
  • Data & Visuals
  • Reading Lists
  • Case Selections
  • HBR Learning
  • Topic Feeds
  • Account Settings
  • Email Preferences

Leadership in Literature

  • Diane Coutu

Pragmatic and powerful insights into leadership can be found in the works of Sophocles, Shakespeare, Conrad, and others. But you’ve got to know where to look and how to understand what they’re saying.

Reprint: R0603B

Business students nowadays are not, for the most part, poets. A growing proportion come to business school with a background in investment banking or management consulting and an undergraduate business major, rather than a degree in the arts and sciences. MBA students are already very familiar with business.

A number of scholars and businesspeople have begun to question the scientific model that dominates business research and teaching. Formalized management tools work well enough if you’re studying techniques for financial valuation, but less so when you’re studying leadership and organizational behavior. Some argue that students could learn a lot more about these subjects if they took a course in literature. Examples from fiction can be as instructive as any business textbook.

HBR senior editor Diane Coutu recently met with Joseph Badaracco, Jr., for a wide-ranging discussion of what leaders can learn from literature. For the past decade, Badaracco, the John Shad Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard Business School, has used classical literature to provide well-rounded, complex pictures of leaders in all walks of life—particularly leaders whose psychological and emotional challenges parallel those of senior executives. Fiction provides some of the most powerful and engaging case studies ever written. Unlike contemporary management literature, which is relentlessly upbeat, classical literature is unsparingly realist. Leaders often struggle and sometimes fail—and the stakes are high. When business leaders read about the conflicts of literary characters, they can better understand their own circumstances.

We pay far too little attention to the inner lives of leaders. Business school courses seem to suggest that you can treat executives like lab animals and control their behavior through their environment. But behaviorism is not enough. Literature suggests that leaders should learn more about themselves if they want to succeed.

It used to be that MBA students went to business school to learn about the practice of management. Most had undergraduate degrees in the arts and sciences. But that’s no longer the case. A growing proportion of students attending business schools today majored in business as undergraduates—or they came to business school with five or six years of experience in investment banking or management consulting. Business students nowadays are not, for the most part, poets. They are people very familiar with business.

Of course, in many ways this experience gives students a head start in their MBA course work. They come in knowing basic accounting; they understand discounted cash flow and regression analysis. But, if you think about it, the very fact that they already are so familiar with the content of the traditional MBA program suggests that MBA students perhaps need a little less in the way of quantitative tools and a little more in the way of good judgment and self-knowledge, as well as a deeper understanding of human nature.

It’s not surprising that a number of scholars and businesspeople have begun to question the direction of business education. Last year in these pages, for example, leadership gurus Warren G. Bennis and James O’Toole argued that business schools have lost their way because of the scientific model that dominates business research and teaching. (See “How Business Schools Lost Their Way,” May 2005.) Business academics are promoted based on the mathematical rigor of their research rather than on the relevance of it. What students get in class, therefore, are highly trained academics steeped in mathematics who are teaching formalized management tools. These tools work well enough if you’re studying techniques for financial valuation, but they are less useful when you’re studying leadership and organizational behavior. Students could learn a lot more about these subjects, Bennis and O’Toole argued, if they took a course in literature. Fiction can be as instructive about leadership and organizational behavior as any business textbook.

For the past decade, Joseph L. Badaracco, Jr., the John Shad Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard Business School, has been offering just that kind of course to the school’s MBA students. In recent years, he has also led discussions about serious literary fiction with executives at HBS. Badaracco uses literature to provide his students with well-rounded, complex pictures of leaders in all walks of life—leaders whose challenges, particularly psychological and emotional ones, parallel those of senior executives. In his classes, Badaracco uses texts such as Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Sophocles’s Antigone, and Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Sharer” to help students understand questions of leadership, decision making, and moral judgment. Badaracco also examines these issues in his forthcoming book Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership Through Literature (Harvard Business School Press, April 2006).

Recently, HBR senior editor Diane Coutu met with Badaracco for a wide-ranging discussion of what leaders can learn from literature. Their three-hour conversation led to some surprising insights into the many challenges of leadership.

What made you decide to teach literature to executives?

It was a gamble. I was teaching a class on leadership, and I asked a group of very senior executives to read a short story by Joseph Conrad called “The Secret Sharer.” I had no idea whether the experiment would work. In my experience, I have found that many businesspeople associate literary discussions with abstruse academic talk and Freudian imagery. But this wasn’t a class in literary criticism, and I wasn’t looking for the “right” interpretation. I wanted to use the story as a case study.

MBA students perhaps need a little less in the way of quantitative tools and a little more in the way of good judgment and self-knowledge.

Of course, literature is more subjective and open-ended than the typical case studies we do at Harvard, which are fact based, highly researched, and focused on particular issues. But it actually provides us with some of the most powerful and engaging case studies ever written. Serious fiction that has survived the test of time raises more questions than it answers. Think of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar . You could learn as much about leadership from that play as you would from reading any business book or academic journal. Its lessons are certainly no less valuable and probably just as pragmatic.

“The Secret Sharer” is a good example of a work of literature that really resonates with executives. The story centers on a new captain who briefly conceals a killer on his ship. This decision violates the law of the sea, but the captain believes that the man is falsely accused. After some heated discussion in our class, most of the senior executives acknowledged that when they looked back on their careers, they had faced decisions that were pretty similar to the captain’s. It may well be that part of becoming a leader involves learning to grapple with very hard trade-offs and almost reckless testing of your limits, and “The Secret Sharer” gave these senior executives a way of talking about those limits.

Is there a particular theme in “The Secret Sharer” that resonates with senior executives?

The premise of this short story, as I see it, is that leaders are not given responsibility, so they must take it—many times emotionally, aggressively, and even forcefully. Often, this is the situation managers face when they are given promotions and new challenges—in business we call them opportunities. In assuming these new roles, managers have to confront their ability or inability to stare reality in the face, their fears of taking on new responsibilities, and, sometimes, their reluctance to be held personally accountable. Do leaders have the inner resources, the direction, the pragmatism, and the force of will to assume these challenges? If not, what’s missing?

Simple answers to these questions don’t help us much. That’s what makes “The Secret Sharer” so compelling. Conrad’s short story is all about questions of character and choice. Early on, the captain faces a choice: Should he let the stranger on board or not? Later, he faces the choice of forcing him off the ship. How does the captain handle his first choice? On the whole, not very well. He responds simply as a human being, feeling empathy for the stranger, liking him, and trusting him.

These days, when there is so much emphasis on empathy and emotional intelligence, this story gives a nontraditional view of leadership.

Empathy is a decent, even noble, impulse of the captain, but his role brings other obligations. He needs to safeguard the ship—but there is no sign that this duty passed through the captain’s mind. Had the captain made the same decision after struggling to determine what was right, we might have more confidence in his choice. But he doesn’t. We can give him credit for empathy, but he seems to have forgotten his new role as the ship’s captain when he fails to consider his other responsibilities and the practical consequences of taking on and concealing a stowaway.

Empathy is a decent, even noble, impulse of the captain, but his role brings other obligations.

As the captain eventually recognizes, empathy is good, but it cannot replace confrontation with the darker sides of one’s own self. Conrad—who, by the way, spent 20 years at sea—suggests that taking responsibility means coming to grips with your “secret” side, your shadow side, your reflective side. There are a lot of unexplored selves that you have to integrate before you can become a leader. This doesn’t transform you from Clark Kent into Superman. But in the process of taking responsibility, the captain does learn to observe and develop himself. He accomplishes this not simply by practicing navigation skills or studying maps but through self-observation and steady, patient steps toward self-mastery.

Why should taking responsibility be an aggressive act?

Conrad does not mince his words. Taking responsibility is a really hard thing to do. The world is a recalcitrant place. Other people will resist you; there are certain risks. Sometimes leaders have to take responsibility by acting directly and forcefully. At the end of the story, when the ship’s mate refuses to follow an order, the captain actually shakes the guy into following his command. He doesn’t hit him, but he physically makes the sailor execute the order.

Taking responsibility means coming to grips with your “secret” side, your shadow side, your reflective side.

Of course, no one is suggesting that business leaders use physical force to get followers to step into line. And yet, CEOs sometimes have to act aggressively. There are times when they have to say, “This is the direction we are going in, and you have to get on board.” Now, that’s an aggressive statement. And that’s what taking responsibility sometimes entails, rather than having a discussion and taking a vote. At the end of “The Secret Sharer,” the captain says, like it or not, this is my boat. That’s a forceful, risky, and somewhat scary act.

When leaders take responsibility, are they done with their task?

Taking responsibility is just one of many tests for a leader. One of the hardest challenges is resisting the flow of success. That’s the theme of I Come as a Thief, Louis Auchincloss’s novel about Tony Lowder, a lawyer in his early forties who commits a brilliantly undetectable crime. Despite the advice and pleas of everyone around him, Tony ultimately goes to the authorities and confesses, which destroys his professional life and puts his family in physical danger from the Mafia. Leaders aim at success, not self-destruction, but self-destruction is exactly what Tony has brought on himself, raising one of the most perplexing themes in literature and leadership—the hazards of success. For many leaders and aspiring leaders, the daunting challenge to overcome isn’t poverty or oppression or lack of skill or opportunity. It is, paradoxically, a successful life and career and all that accompanies it.

Tony’s crime and his confession raise some difficult questions: Why does he commit the crime to begin with, and why does he then decide to blow the whistle on himself when he has other alternatives? I believe that Tony acts this way because he senses that success is ruining his life. It looks to others like he has a demanding but well-rounded life, but he’s in trouble, and he dimly knows it. As Edgar Degas once said, “There is a kind of success that is indistinguishable from panic,” and that seems to describe Tony.

The novel shows us that life can look very good when it really isn’t. In Tony’s case, he is always busy, working very hard, making money, building a business, and establishing a reputation. He also treats others with respect, sensitivity, and thoughtfulness. But his ceaseless efforts to meet others’ standards and succeed deadens his emotional life and moral instincts. Of course, Tony isn’t a robot, and he realizes semiconsciously that something is wrong, but he never has the time or impetus to find out what it is. He feels dead inside until he confesses to the crime, then Tony feels excited. To him, the crime acts as a self-administered shock treatment. It wakes him up and makes him feel alive. The crime is wrong, of course, but his way of thinking about it is perversely right—his mind and heart are both engaged. In an odd way, Tony’s decision to commit a crime is his first moral act.

What can leaders learn from Tony Lowder?

Tony’s story poses a challenge: How can men and women pursue success and achievement without being pulled into powerful, dangerous currents that overwhelm them? One answer lies in the peculiar idea that we have serious moral obligations not just to others but to ourselves.

The conventional view suggests that selfishness and altruism are opposites. The more selfish a person is, the less he cares about others; the more altruistic a person is, the more he is willing to sacrifice his own interests. Serious literature suggests a more complicated view. The most admirable people, whether they are extraordinary leaders or ordinary individuals, live and work for others and for themselves. This is nothing to feel guilty about. There is nothing wrong with Tony’s desire to succeed. Machiavelli once wrote that a man without position in society cannot even get a dog to bark at him. Tony’s achievements are real, and they give him the power to make genuine contributions to society. The problem is that Tony needed to learn to underachieve.

Many executives also need to learn to underachieve. It is risky and self-destructive to pour all of yourself into work and leave too little of yourself for anything else. I remember a story I read in a business magazine a few years ago about a very powerful CEO who was described as a good family man. The article told how the executive made sure that he was home for dinner whenever his kids got their report cards. So you figure—four kids, four report cards apiece, 16 dinners a year, tops. I’m sure this CEO spent more than 16 days a year with his family, but I wonder how many more. He seems to have been paying a high price to be a great performer.

I think Auchincloss would argue that paying it—that is, being the best performer you can be—leaves a leader in a very precarious and exposed position. Success can be really seductive, and for a long time, things will go really well at work and in almost all aspects of the high performer’s life. The golden boys in an organization typically don’t experience any of the bumps or mistakes or failures that remind them that some of their achievement is due to extraordinary good fortune. It isn’t all due to their brilliance and hard work. The illusion of success is dangerous. When really tough times come, as they almost always do, those leaders may have nothing to fall back on.

So you think there’s a large element of luck in leadership?

Yes. Another book I teach is about a Nigerian chieftain named Okonkwo. He’s the main character in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, which is probably the most widely read African novel. In a scene in the middle of the book, Okonkwo and his village elders gather for a funeral. At the height of the ceremony, with drums beating and guns firing, Okonkwo’s weapon suddenly explodes, and one of the pieces of metal that flies out hits a young man, killing him. The dancing stops once everyone realizes the fate that lies ahead for Okonkwo. Banishment for seven years is the penalty for killing a clansman by accident. So Okonkwo and his wives are forced to leave the village. Then, to expiate Okonkwo’s sin, the villagers level his compound.

I think Achebe is suggesting that moments of testing come in unexpected ways. In “The Secret Sharer,” Conrad is also interested in accidents of fate. At one point, Conrad refers to “the chapter of accidents which counts for so much in the book of success.” It’s significant that Conrad gives the captain no name, which suggests that accidents of fate can happen to anyone.

Many of the authors we are discussing are telling leaders not to kid themselves. At any moment, challenges can leap at you, testing whether you have what it takes to be a leader. No one needs to seek out these challenges, and no one should. Crisis moments like the captain’s in “The Secret Sharer” will come to anyone in a position of responsibility. The captain in “The Secret Sharer” faces his challenge of taking responsibility when he is finally given command of a ship. He is in charge of the boat that night, and the sea is perfectly calm, so he doesn’t expect anything to happen. Then, all of a sudden, he has to deal with a stranger who swims to his ship and claims to be falsely accused of murder because he killed a sailor whose failure to follow orders endangered his own ship. So that may be another element of these tests: They’ll probably come out of nowhere.

Many accidents can derail your life and career, including ones involving health, which most of us take for granted. Consider Richard Gerstner. In the mid-1980s, he was at the height of his career. I met him when he was running IBM Japan, and a lot of people thought he might be the next chairman of IBM.

But then he got sick. A series of consultations with the world’s top doctors didn’t uncover the problem. His illness became so debilitating that Gerstner retired from IBM. Eventually, he was diagnosed with Lyme disease. He received treatment and was ready to go back to work. But, by then, IBM had tapped Gerstner’s younger brother Lou—who had never worked for a computer company—for the top job that Richard had hoped for. Call this fortune or fate, but there is so much outside our control.

Business scandals have stoked a lot of skepticism and distrust in the community. What can literature teach us about what a good moral code looks like?

In one way or another, morality is the theme of most great works of fiction. But serious literature rarely endorses black-and-white morality. Let’s go back to Things Fall Apart . Essentially, the story is about Okonkwo’s struggles to come to terms with the colonial missionaries who move into his world and challenge his deep beliefs and way of life. Okonkwo is driven, focused, and talented—in other words, he is the psychological and emotional counterpart of the strong, determined people who run most organizations today. But as the story unfolds, he loses his followers, falls into despair, and kills himself.

So what has happened to this once-successful African chieftain that he cannot put up a fight against the colonialists? What we learn from Okonkwo is the danger of adhering blindly to rigid moral codes in times of change. Okonkwo believes that the simple moral code of his early years is all he needs to lead his people. But this mistaken belief turns his determination and firmness into liabilities rather than the assets they could be; they push him further down the wrong track. Sometimes, for leaders, morality is not as simple as looking up the rules and following them. Okonkwo never understands this.

So, serious literature encourages leaders to break the rules?

Fiction suggests that in facing their day-to-day challenges, leaders may need to embrace a more complex code of ethical behavior than they may have learned as children. Real morality is not binary; it comes in many shades of gray. Leaders need moral codes that are as complex, varied, and subtle as the situations in which they find themselves. This does not mean abandoning basic values or embracing moral relativism. What it does mean is that over the course of a career, leaders may have to embrace a wide set of human values. Like Okonkwo, executives sometimes don’t grasp this idea. They mistakenly believe that the simple moral code of their early years is all they need to be leaders.

Leaders may need to embrace a more complex code of ethical behavior than they may have learned as children.

For instance, I know of a successful executive who recently joined a small, fast-growing firm run by a longtime friend. After just a couple of weeks on the job, the executive found evidence that the company had been booking revenues for sales that hadn’t actually occurred. He confronted his friend and the board and eventually resigned. The company issued a press release saying the executive had stepped down because the demands of the job were greater than he had expected. But the markets saw through this ruse. They halved the company’s stock price, and they derailed a planned stock offering. The firm soon declared bankruptcy.

On the surface, the executive seemed to have acted courageously and correctly. He refused to participate in accounting dishonesty and stood up to his friend and the board. However, by following his clear-cut code of ethics, this executive triggered the destruction of the company. A harder path would have been to give the president and the board the option of disclosing the problems and taking dramatic steps right away. This would have given the company a fighting chance, but the executive, believing that he was following his conscience and doing the right thing, apparently never considered it. The question is whether his moral code was just too rigid.

Does literature suggest that leaders be pragmatists when it comes to morality?

The clash between principles and pragmatism is one of the hardest tests of a leader’s character. Of course we want our leaders to be both principled and pragmatic. Principles alone qualify men and women to be preachers or saints. Pure pragmatists can open their tool kits and get down to work, but their amorality makes them dangerous. As many leaders know, sometimes the worst conflict is between two strongly held principles. Navigating that can be harder than trying to keep a balance between principles and pragmatism.

In his play Antigone, the ancient Greek dramatist Sophocles shows what can happen when leaders are motivated by principles alone. Even though Antigone is set in a different era, it is relevant to leaders facing the high-pressured environment of today. This is partly because Sophocles takes a very broad view of leadership. One of the main characters, Creon, is the new ruler of Thebes. He fits the classic definition of a leader because of his official role and authority. The other central figure is Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, the former king of Thebes. Antigone has no formal position, but she represents the social and religious leaders throughout history who have mobilized others through their deep, personal commitment to fundamental moral values.

Antigone wants to bury her brother in accordance with religious law, but Creon has declared her brother a traitor because he started a civil war. Creon issues an edict that Antigone’s brother be left unburied, to be eaten by dogs and vultures. When Antigone proceeds with the burial, Creon sentences her to death.

Antigone’s fundamental principle is religion; Creon’s is country. Both characters are strongly committed to their views. Yet, at a deeper level, the two leaders are similar in an unfortunate way. Both take a single, important human value—religion for Antigone and civic duty for Creon—and pervert it. They each do this by taking that single value and using it like a scythe to mow down all other considerations. Antigone and Creon let their single value dominate not just their thinking but their personalities. We see the same thing today in organizations when leaders are unable to see beyond their own agendas for truth, change, and human development.

Let’s talk about one of the few protagonists who actually is a businessperson. You’ve said Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman had the wrong dreams. What are the right dreams? Is this just the vision thing?

Miller would never have equated dreams with corporate vision. Rather, he saw dreams as a crucial inner resource for leaders. He suggests that dreams drive all of us, but the wrong dreams can be slow-acting poisons. The fall of Willy Loman illustrates the noxious power of certain dreams. The play raises a difficult question for leaders: How do you know when your dreams are toxic?

The conventional wisdom about Death of a Salesman is that Willy embraces a corrupt version of the American dream that defines success as money, status, and celebrity. The play was written in the late 1940s, and some critics saw it as a brilliant indictment of modern American capitalism.

But this view treats Willy as an anticapitalist icon and not as a human being. Another possible interpretation of the play is that Willy doesn’t dream with his eyes wide open. This sounds paradoxical; dreams are meant to resist pragmatism. At the same time, it is uncompromising realism—about the world and about oneself—that separates dreams from delusions. Willy’s dreams are a gossamer—fragile and fanciful. He is naively optimistic, and his dreams lack the basis in reality necessary to grow and reshape themselves over time. Good dreams have deep roots in everyday life, not in the seductions of the society around them. Someone said that the test of a vocation is the love of its drudgery. A successful management career is challenging and rewarding in so many ways that it may seem odd to emphasize drudgery. But Death of a Salesman suggests this may be a better test of a healthy dream than excitement or inspiration.

In the texts you discuss in your classes, several protagonists commit suicide. One lands in prison. Another character is sentenced to death. Does all this grimness really resonate with businesspeople?

I wasn’t deliberately trying to choose grim literature. Certainly I don’t mean to suggest that business is a grim endeavor. If I felt that, I would encourage MBA students to look for other lines of work. The fact is that in business you have to be confident and believe that most of the time you’re going to succeed. This is the opposite of grim.

At the same time, unlike contemporary management literature, which is relentlessly upbeat, serious literature is unsparingly realist. We find no quick hits of inspiration, no stories of unalloyed success, or five-step programs for happiness. The leaders portrayed in literature sometimes fail and often struggle. The pressure is on because the stakes are high. When business leaders read about the struggles of literary characters, they can better understand their own conflicts. Still, fictional stories don’t lead to cynicism, passivity, or despair. Literature can be hopeful and even inspiring because its questions and lessons are hard-won and real. This realistic approach provides a deeper, more enduring kind of encouragement.

Throughout this conversation, you have emphasized the need for leaders to reflect. Why is this so important?

We pay far too little attention to the inner lives of leaders. A lot of what you learn in business school seems to suggest that you can treat executives like lab animals whose behavior can be controlled if you get the environment right. Pay-for-performance systems, for example, assume that the right pellets, like stock options, will produce the right behavior. And Sarbanes-Oxley is really just about giving bigger shocks to misbehaving rats and shining brighter lights on them.

This kind of behaviorism is not enough. Serious fiction suggests that leaders should learn more about themselves if they want to succeed. In other words, before you set out to change the world and manage other people, you should look inside yourself and see whether you are ready to be a leader. You should reflect on how well you can manage yourself. That takes time, and it is an unnatural act for action-oriented people. And you may not like what you see. But if Sophocles teaches us that leaders cannot escape their flawed humanity, he also suggests that we can lower the risks of error and tragedy through sound reflection. Productive deliberation is a chaotic process of going back and forth, zigzagging between feelings, thoughts, facts, and analysis. It resists the temptation to grasp hold of a single grand principle and allow it tyrannize all other considerations. As Antigone strongly suggests, the best reflection involves dialogue with others. Solitary, self-designated geniuses are a prescription for disaster.

literature review on leadership skills

  • DC Diane Coutu is the director of client communications at Banyan Family Business Advisors, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is the author of the HBR article “ How Resilience Works .”

Partner Center

literature review on leadership skills

We're celebrating 50 years of transforming education across the country!

COVID-19 Updates: Visit our Learning Goes On site for news and resources for supporting educators, families, policymakers and advocates.

  • Resource Center

Review of Literature on Leadership- An Excerpt from the New Book, “The Ohtli Encuentro – Women of Color Share Pathways to Leadership”


• by Pam McCollum, Ph.D.  • IDRA Newsletter • June – July 2005

These analytic reflections are offered as a complement to the narrative journal, The Ohtli Encuentro – Women of Color Share Pathways to Leadership , which tells the story of the Ohtli Encuentro and of the leadership pathways of the Ohtli women through the voices of the women, themselves. The reflections provide a brief review of the general literature on leadership, with an emphasis on women’s leadership and studies of leadership of women of color, as a context within which to situate the Ohtli women’s stories and insights.

Definitions of leadership can be placed on a continuum from hierarchical to transformational . At the hierarchical end, leadership is viewed as one of “power over,” the ability to exercise authoritative dominance over others through hierarchical position, physical might or control of resources. This form of leadership is agentic and is more commonly ascribed to men than women. Leaders who exhibit agentic qualities have been commonly and traditionally described as aggressive, ambitious, dominant, forceful, independent, daring, self-confident and competitive (Eagly and Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001).

At the other end of the continuum is transformational or communal leadership, which is characterized by “power with” or “power through” due to the relationship between the leader and followers. Transformational leaders recognize a need for change, have a vision and focus, pursue worthy goals, and inspire others to work cooperatively to achieve a desired change (Gillis, 2005).

Transformational leaders are skilled communicators who can communicate their vision to others and inspire them to pursue a common goal, empowering them in the process. These types of leaders are adept at developing others’ personal ownership of the vision, stimulating commitment, supporting people to work together and inspiring collective loyalty. The influence that leaders have over followers is constantly being negotiated and is a function of several variables, including the self-identity of the followers (Douglas, Brown and Freiberg, 1999).

Another type of leadership that has been described in the business literature is transactional leadership, which is managerial. Instead of being communal, the emphasis is on individuals or small groups of employees within organizations or businesses who vie for favored status with a manager. Cooperation occurs through negotiations and loyalty is bought with reward to individuals. In these cases, some employees demonstrate little or no commitment to the organization’s mission or vision, and cooperation is the result of negotiations. This model emphasizes marginal improvements in performance based on exchange relationships with subordinates (Bass and Avolio, 1993).

Yet another type of leadership seeks service for the greater good, as in servant leadership described by Greenleaf (1991). Others write, “Leadership is an art” (DePree, 1989).

Gender and Leadership Styles

A good portion of the studies on leadership styles has examined gender differences in leadership style when style is understood as relatively stable patterns of behavior that are manifested by leaders (Yoder, 2001). Many of these studies have focused on whether women and men have different leadership styles or on the adequacy of women’s leadership styles for a given profession. This line of research focused on women who worked in traditionally male-dominated professions and examined whether their leadership style was adequate (Miller, Taylor, and Buck, 1991). The difference/similarity research in leadership styles between men and women also has enjoyed popularity in the popular press. Authors of these studies, who formerly worked in the business world, published results of interviews and surveys that examined the issue of gender and leadership style and found that the leadership style of women is less hierarchical, more cooperative and collaborative, and more oriented to enhancing others’ self-worth (Book, 2000; Helgesen, 1990; Rosener, 1995).

Acknowledging that leadership was much more complex than the simple difference/similarity dichotomy, social scientists such as Powell (1990) began to minimize the importance of these reported differences in leadership styles. There was a realization that leadership is gendered (Boldry, Wood and Kashy, 2001; Eagly and Johannesen-Schmidt, 2001; Heilman, 2001).

Researchers also began to examine leadership as a process that occurs within a social context that is itself gendered (Biernat and Fuegen, Winter 2001). The context of the leadership setting can vary according to several factors such as the gender composition of the group, task characteristics, and shifting standards. Gender is important in defining both leadership and the specific context in which leadership operates. Yoder (2001) states, “Leadership does not operate in a genderless vacuum.”

Gender and Leader Effectiveness

Analyzing the contextual settings of leadership has broadened the polemic over the effectiveness of female vs. male leaders. These studies have examined the gender congeniality of contexts where leadership occurs. Gender congeniality can be thought of as a kind of “comfort index” that differs by gender. The research was done largely through meta-analyses that operationalized the gender congeniality of social contexts in which leadership occurs (Eagly and Johnson, 1990; Eagly and Karau, 1991; Eagly, Karau and Makhhijani, 1995). Variables that influenced the social context were group composition, gender typing of the task, valuing task performance over all other outcomes, and power emphases. When assessing leader effectiveness in this model, one must take into account the gender of the leader and the gender congeniality of the context where the leader operates. Leader effectiveness is defined as positive leader and follower satisfaction, enhanced group and individual performances, and unit cohesiveness. The types of power typically used in women-uncongenial contexts draws on “power over,” or dominance, and “power from,” or the ability to resist demands of others. “Power to” or empowerment of self and others is more common in women-congenial contexts (Yoder, 2001).

Studies have shown that effective leadership traits for men in masculinized contexts in many cases are ineffective when adopted by women operating in masculinized contexts (Porter, Geis and Jennings, 1983). Assertiveness, an agentic trait of male leaders, was found to be threatening when exhibited by women (Carli, 1995) and contributed to them being disliked (Butler and Geis, 1990).

Studies focusing on other agentic qualities of male leadership all found that women leaders who exhibited the agentic qualities in masculinized contexts were not viewed as effective. The qualities studied were: dominance (Ellyson, Davidio and Brown, 1992); autocratic or directive behavior (Eagley, Makhijani and Klonsky, 1992; Jago and Vroom, 1982); and self-promotion (Rudman, 1998).

Yoder (2001) states that what makes leaders effective in masculinized settings is power. She states, “Because social status and power are confounded by gender, the playing field is tilted for women leaders even before they begin.”

Ethnicity and Leadership

The scope of leadership research has expanded from males as the sole focus of study to include gender and, most recently, to a focus on leadership in members of various ethnic groups. These studies are generally qualitative in nature, the most common employing in-depth interview techniques and surveys. Ramírez (2001) surveyed 3,032 Latinos in the United States (Mexican American, Puerto Rican and Cuban) ages 18 and older and asked them to name traits they considered important in a leader. He found 20 desirable traits that clustered around four leadership traits that Latinos expect to see in a leader: character, competence, compassion and community servanthood. Latinos, like most Americans, highly value the importance of character (honesty and integrity) and competence.

However, the Ramírez study showed that Latinos place a much higher priority on leadership traits associated with compassion and community servanthood than their non-Latino counterparts. Latinos want their leaders to be competent but not at the expense of compassion and community servanthood.

There are many similarities between Latinos’ expectations for leaders and African Americans’. The centrality of the community for African Americans has much in common with Latino communal values. Most of the early work on leadership in African American communities was done within the race dominance and power approach, seeking to explain Black leadership theoretically in terms of the subordinate power position of Blacks in relation to Whites (Walters and Smith, 1999): “Because of the subordinate position of Blacks relative to Whites in the U.S., African American leaders have been faced with the dual task of organizing internally within the Black community while simultaneously ‘mobilizing’ the community to develop the pressure on the majority” (Ibid., p.112).

Both Kilson (2000) and Walters and Smith (1999) feel that Black leadership tends to be transformational in nature and cite Dr. Martin Luther King as an example of a Black transformational leader.

While there is a great deal of diversity in the lifestyles of the 550 recognized Indian nations in the United States, their cultures can generally be characterized by similar social and religious systems where women occupy a matriarchal position (Gutiérez, 1991). American Indian women have a rich history of political involvement in their communities and have struggled to attain tribal sovereignty, control over Native lands and resources, and cultural preservation. Since the 1970s, women have held a variety of elected or appointed positions in their tribal governments (Prindeville, 2000).

Leadership studies with professionals of various ethnicities began to appear in the 1980s. These studies tended to be written by members of ethnic groups who studied how members of their ethnic group fared in comparison to majority group employees within the organization. Initially, these were analyses that examined why there were so few minorities in leadership positions relative to majority group members within various careers. Studies in this vein examined leadership in higher education (Madrid, 1982; Valverde and García, 1982; Waring, 2003), community organizing (Straus and Valentino, 2003) and school administration (Bloom and Erlandson, 2003). Presently, studies are examining leaders from ethnic groups in positions of power within organizations.

To read more about leadership in women of color, read the newly-released, The Ohtli Encuentro – Women of Color Share Pathways to Leadership . This beautiful book presents the voices of 30 African American, Latina and Native American women who share their leadership journeys. IDRA brought together these women leaders to capture, honor and share their inspiring stories of leadership. This book highlights their moving stories. The book also discusses common themes that arose from the women’s interactions in a multicultural, multi-generational gathering designed to explore leadership in women of color.

For more information visit or contact IDRA (210-444-1710, [email protected]). References are located in the Ohtli Encuentro book and are also available online.

Pam McCollum, Ph.D., is a senior associate in the IDRA Division of Professional Development. Comments and questions may be directed to her via e-mail at [email protected] .

[©2005, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the June- July 2005  IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]

image for learning goes on content

Get Email Alerts

  • Sign up here
  • Classnotes Podcast

Explore IDRA

  • IDRA Social Media
  • Learning Goes On
  • Change Model & How We Work
  • Data Dashboards & Maps
  • Educator & Student Support
  • Families & Communities
  • IDRA Valued Youth Partnership
  • Knowledge is Power
  • Policy, Advocacy & Community Engagement
  • School Resource Hub – We All Belong
  • Semillitas de Aprendizaje
  • Southern Education Equity Network
  • Services for Educators
  • You Tube Channel
  • IDRA Newsletter
  • Valued Youth Partnership Evaluator
  • Learning Goes On – A COVID-19 Resource for Education

literature review on leadership skills

5815 Callaghan Road, Suite 101 San Antonio, TX 78228

Phone: 210-444-1710 Fax: 210-444-1714

literature review on leadership skills

© 2023 Intercultural Development Research Association

  • Submit your COVID-19 Pandemic Research
  • Research Leap Manual on Academic Writing
  • Conduct Your Survey Easily
  • Research Tools for Primary and Secondary Research
  • Useful and Reliable Article Sources for Researchers
  • Tips on writing a Research Paper
  • Stuck on Your Thesis Statement?
  • Out of the Box
  • How to Organize the Format of Your Writing
  • Argumentative Versus Persuasive. Comparing the 2 Types of Academic Writing Styles
  • Very Quick Academic Writing Tips and Advices
  • Top 4 Quick Useful Tips for Your Introduction
  • Have You Chosen the Right Topic for Your Research Paper?
  • Follow These Easy 8 Steps to Write an Effective Paper
  • 7 Errors in your thesis statement
  • How do I even Write an Academic Paper?
  • Useful Tips for Successful Academic Writing
  • The Effects of Good University Governance on the Public Services Quality of State Islamic University
  • Factors Influencing Consumer Preference Among Beverage Product Brands in Namibia
  • Balancing Innovation and Regulation for Financial Inclusion: The Future of P2P Lending in Indonesia
  • Parent Socioeconomic Status and Child Malnutrition in Nasarawa State, Nigeria
  • The Golden Age of the Big Data Audit: Agile Practices and Innovations for E-Commerce, Post-Quantum Cryptography
  • Harnessing the Power of Mergers and Diversification: The Success Story of Meituan-Dianping
  • Investigating the Effect of Drivers’ Training Courses on Commercial Drivers’ Success Rate for Qualification
  • New Times in Performance Evaluation
  • Slide Share

Research leap

Leadership Styles and Job Performance: a Literature Review

Citation Download PDF

Suggested articles

Journal of International Business Research and Marketing Volume 3, Issue 3, March 2018, Pages 40-49 Leadership Styles and Job Performance: a Literature Review DOI: 10.18775/jibrm.1849-8558.2015.33.3004 URL: 1 Mohammed Al-Malki, 2 Wang Juan 1 2   School of Economics, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China

Abstract: The present research is a literature review of the leadership styles and its effectiveness within the organization team-building. Specifically, this paper tries to review the literature in the sphere of job performance focusing on the leadership styles. Both leadership types and styles had been reviewed in relation to the productivity in the organization along with the role stressors and role ambiguity. Leaders are claimed to have a positive impact on the efficiency of the organization by influencing the team members’ job performance. Additionally, literature review explores the concepts of role stressors such as role ambiguity and role conflict, which are often found as the most important source of job dissatisfaction and poor job performance. Understanding the nature of role stressors and potential sources which may cause them to will help organizations to take control of managing role stressors. Also, it was found that the relationship between job performance and job cooperation was somewhat controversial in the literature. Therefore, it is important to understand the nature of different leadership styles and assess their impact on resolving different organizational problems. leadership literature review

Keywords: Leadership styles, Leadership types, Job performance, Role ambiguity, Role conflict

1. Introduction

For the last two decades, the critical importance of the team effectiveness has been considered as the main aim of the many papers. The process of managing teams and ensuring their effectiveness requires the presence of the leader who can motivate and provide a vision for their subordinates. Leaders are believed to set smart goals for the subordinates and empower them enough to achieve the organizational goals. The research sphere which is focused on analyzing the influence of leaders to manage the effectiveness of the teams can be regarded as one of the most developing areas. The role of leaders is regarded as the critical tools for the team members. The reason is that leaders play a vital role in formulating collective norms, assisting the team members to face and resolve the challenges arisen in the team environment. The critical importance of leaders on team member resulted in the creation new ways based on which leaders can provide value for the members of the team. leadership literature review

The managing style of the leaders is essential to the success of the teamwork. In many cases, leaders are not aware of the main needs and wants of their subordinates, or they fail to understand the difference between the individuals involved in the team. As a result, due to the various issues that were not identified in time among team members result in the decreasing productivity of team members. leadership literature review

It is crucial for the leaders to provide compelling direction which can help the members of the team achieve the team and organizational objectives. Compelling direction can consist of transformational leadership; also known as person focused leadership behavior, as well as compelling direction should be good enough to initiate the structure which is task-focused leadership. In this regard, it is important to look at the difference between the two types of the leadership behavior. Task leadership behavior or management style focuses on the accomplishment of the task on time and an accurate manner. Task-focused leaders formulate the schedules with easy-to-reach objectives which can help team members to work more effectively. On the other hand, person-focused leadership is mainly concerned with the creating better and enhanced environment which motivates and empowers employees. leadership literature review

The recent research conducted by Deloitte identified different types of team styles that should be followed by the leaders to ensure the efficiency of the teamwork. The first style is known as pioneers. Pioneers are the type of teams who have strong conceptual skills, and they often try to see the big picture of the situation. Moreover, they are open to take risks and always strive to achieve the goals and objectives by going beyond the expected boundaries. Also, pioneers are always open for innovations, and they try to find creative ways of solving existing problems. Another style is guardians, which is also popular among teams. Guardians can be described as the vice versa of pioneers’ style. Unlike pioneers, guardians always value stability, and they are less prone to change.

The further style is known as drivers, drivers are quite fast and look forward to facing challenges. They try to solve the emerging problems as soon as possible based on the available data and resources. The integrators are another style followed alongside three team styles mentioned above. They value relationships more, and they think that teams can achieve success only by working together. Thus, it is believed that teams that follow above-mentioned styles enjoy different advantages, such as innovativeness, increased communication between team members and quick access to decision making. According to the classification of team styles, the research aimed to define the influence of various factors which may trigger the motivation of team members in the workplace.

2. Concept of Leadership and the Impact of Role Stressors

2.1 concept and the role of leadership.

Leadership is considered as a widely discussed topic in the literature. Leadership is considered as a way person uses to lead the other people. Employees play a critical role in ensuring the quality of service. When employees are clear about their expectations and requirements, they are more likely to perform better. Although leaders are responsible for the proper task and job allocation, different leadership styles have several approaches how tasks are being allocated. Leaders are claimed to have a positive impact on the efficiency of the organization by influencing the team members. Particularly, leaders considerably influence its followers in the organization. Therefore, it is important to understand the nature of leadership styles such as transactional and transformational to assess their impact on resolving different organizational problems. leadership literature review

At present, numerous organizations stress on formulating the team and workflow to increase the efficiency of the performance in the organization. To achieve this, the role of the leaders is of high importance in the organization. Formulation of high performing teams can be accomplished by learning the expectations and references of team members. Furthermore, every member of the organization should have clear responsibilities, duties and need to understand their role in this entity. leadership literature review

In short, expectations of top-level managers should be identified and communicated properly to employees and subordinates Van et al. (1981). leadership literature review

Generally, in transactional leadership, the system based on rewards is used to motivate the followers. Though, the motivation given through such approach does not last long. Turning to transformational leadership, this style serves to improve the collaboration among organization members (Keegan et al., 2004; Bass and Avolio J., 1990; Pearce, 1981). Transformational leaders let their followers feel as the part of the organization. Such leaders have a strong inspirational vision to encourage the employees of the organization care about the company goals than their own goals and interests. Such leaders are believed to be enthusiastic and energetic. leadership literature review

Conversely, the laissez-faire leaders provide a good environment to subordinates as well as empower them to take decisions themselves. As the subordinates have full authority on making decisions, laissez-faire leaders do not usually give feedback on the accomplished tasks.

From the behavioral perspective, the number of studies that have analyzed the role of leadership in team context has increased. According to Fleishman et al. (1991) during the 1946-1986, 65 classifications of leader behaviors were proposed. The study undertaken by Fleishman focused on the analysis of the various classifications of leaders’ behavior by categorizing them into two groups. According to Fleishman, there are two common classifications of the team behavior which includes person-focused and task-focused. Task-focused behavior is mainly concerned with the definition of task requirements, the process of the task completion and complete fulfillment of the given task. Unlike task-focused behavior, person-focused behavior focuses on the development of the cognitive issues in individuals and behavioral patterns in individuals before they start working as a team.

The literature suggests that there are three main categories of the task-focused leadership that should be studied including transactional, initiating structure and boundary spanning. Transactional leaders always praise and reward their subordinates when they meet and exceed the required job expectations. In other words, the task-focused behavior is focused and formulated on the basis of goal setting theory, equity theory and reinforcement theory as accomplishing goals and completing tasks constitute the idea behind these theories. The literature suggests that transactional leadership based on contingent reward positively contributes to the team development and team effectiveness. The research conducted on identifying main factors which lead to the success of transactional leadership revealed that team members who are under the influence of transactional leader are more likely to have a strong relationship among member despite the small team size.

2.2 Leadership Traits

Peter Drucker (1989) mentioned that leadership is not created, taught and learned. Thus, a great amount of attention was dedicated to understanding the number of characteristics that are found in leaders. According to the trait theory of leadership, there have been some important studies, which aimed to provide more valid results to describe the specific traits of leaders that can be learned and taught. According to the research by Locke (1991) drive, self-confidence, cognitive ability, honesty, and integrity are considered to be the most commonly observed traits of successful leaders. Recently, knowledge of context and desire to lead were added to the list of successful leadership traits.

The research conducted by Bond and Smith (1996) identifies “Big Five” model of personality which can be used in the other cultural contexts. These traits include extroversion, emotional stability, readiness to accept challenges, agreeableness, and openness to experience.

Boyett (2006) mentioned the role of leaders is crucial in gaining the trust of their subordinates and stimulate their commitment towards the successful fulfillment of the undertaken project. Boyett (2006) described the influence of leaders in the following manner. Firstly, the leaders should have idealized influence, in other words, they have to be charismatic. Leaders can execute the confidence and competence. Secondly, leaders should be able to inspire their followers; this is mainly attributed to their role of inspirational motivation. It is important for the leaders to be able to take each separately while dealing with them. Each person is different from the others regarding their characteristics; needs, wants and attitude towards specific tasks. Therefore, leaders should have the individual consideration to each team member. leadership literature review

Another important trait of a leader is described as intellectual stimulation. Precisely, it is important for the leaders to be intellectually stimulating. Leaders have to able to question everything starting from simple assumptions to status quo. Finding a creative and innovative solution to specific and complex problems is considered as an evidence of leader’s intellectually stimulating behavior. Providing rewards to employees is considered as another important characteristic of transformational leaders. Leaders are expected to set the clear objectives for their subordinates. Upon the accomplishment of these objectives, the followers should be rewarded accordingly.

The study conducted by Keegan et al. (2004) identified the main behaviors that are observed in the traits of leaders such as goal clarification, team boundaries setting, the guidance of members, leading followers, engaging members to the team, meeting organization and information flow control. Aggregate leadership dimensions, in turn, include guiding, involving, role specifying and organizing teamwork. leadership literature review

2.3 The Importance of Teamwork in Enhancing the Work Performance

Over the years, organizations are stressing on the team-building to increase their production processes, to service their customers, and to learn and grow in the long run (Cohen and Bailey, 1997; Osterman, 1994). Effective teams, or teamwork, may facilitate flexible work arrangements and complex task accomplishment, as well as act as a source of dynamic capability that ensures long-term organizational effectiveness (Teece at al. 1997). To date, management scholars have extensively investigated teams as both production units and social systems (see Ilgen et al. 2005), focusing on both their internal processes (e.g., Marks, Mathieu, and Zaccaro, 2001) and external environment (e.g., Ancona and Caldwell, 1992a). Team-based work systems, by enhancing connections and collaborations among people and different units, can serve as a functional structure that facilitates collective knowledge creation and utilization Mohrman et al. 1995).

Many books, academic journals, and latest news titles have been devoted to the importance of teamwork, group work and to different factors which may ensure its effectiveness. According to Edmonson (2017), the teams who plan everything firstly and execute their plans, later are not found to be feasible in the 21 st century. Collaboration and coordination are found to be an essential element of the team. At present, it is rare to find teams which are well designed and dynamic and which exist for a long period. The teams which have succeeded to stay competitive and successful are considered to be those who developed good interpersonal skills among one another. According to Edmonson, teaming is considered as an important of organizational growth. In this regard, it is crucial to underline the importance of leaders who are responsible in charge of these teams. Transforming static teams into dynamic one requires strong leadership skills. Dynamic teams are more open to innovation, and they keep up with the latest trends in the industry they are working. Moreover, it is important for team members to understand their roles. Understanding individual tasks that each member of the group is responsible for undertaking allows them to communicate with each other more efficiently and improves understanding their team members.

Burka (2006) proposed team leadership framework, which can be used to explain how leaders can enable teams to work better by increasing their effectiveness. According to the framework provided team effectiveness, also known as team performance outcomes, can be measured by dividing it into three groups including perceived effectiveness, team productivity, and team learning. Team learning is related to increased capacity which is explained by the teamwork and leadership. Precisely, team learning takes place in the process of working in a team and under the influence of leader which formulate the strong vision for the employees.

Edward Deming (1993) who successfully used and adopted Japanese model of successful management introduced a new corporate culture that valued flexibility, quality, customer service and motivation of employees. In this regards, considering the wide popularity of total quality model, it was also considered to apply to the case of teamwork and its performance. It is believed that when teams are used effectively and provided with necessary training, it is possible for the organization to achieve the expected outcomes. Moreover, these teams are believed to result in creating more innovative ideas, increased productivity and increased employee morale and satisfaction.

Richard Hackman who studied the behavior of teams for more than 40 years pioneered the study of team effectiveness. The outcomes of the research reveal some significant insights which can be of valuable importance: he discovered that success of the teamwork and its effectiveness is not only dependent on the personality of team members. Instead, “enabling conditions” is found to be of critical importance for the effectiveness of teams. These conditions that were identified by Hackman represent compelling direction, strong structure, and supportive context.

2.3.1 Compelling Direction

One of the important enabling conditions for team members is to provide compelling direction for subordinates. That is to say; leaders should be able to energize, motivate and direct towards the way that resembles the success of the organization. To illustrate this, the goals set by leaders should follow the SMART that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. It is also crucial that goals should be explicitly stated so that each member will have a clear picture of what required of them. leadership literature review

2.3.2 Strong Structure

Another important enabling condition for the success of the team members is strong structure. The main idea behind this condition is to prevent destructive behavior. This means that there should be right combination and mixture of team members, norms and a clear set of tasks that can help team members to promote positive team spirit and dynamics. leadership literature review

Team size is also important characteristic that play a crucial role in determining the success of the teamwork. Moreover, team members should be given autonomy while accomplishing the task by freely explaining their points of view without the strong pressure of the other team members. Precisely, it is critical for the leader to establish set of norms that prevent destructive dynamics within the team such as showing strong counter-argument against the other team member, interrupting the viewpoint of team members.

2.3.3 Supportive Context

The nature of supportive context ranges from providing reward systems for team members, providing up to date information systems that allow them to obtain relevant data necessary for the accomplishment of the daily tasks. Supportive context also involves providing relevant training that would be of critical importance for developing skills that are essential for the accomplishment of objectives. leadership literature review

2.3.4 Shared Mindset

The need for formulating shared mindset has become quite important in recent years. This can be explained by the fact that previously team members have a similar background, similar mindset, and world outlook.

Leadership in organizations considered as a multilevel phenomenon. Many scientists have acknowledged that the need for leaders is strongly related to their level in the hierarchy.

2.4 The Importance of Leadership in Reducing the Role Stressors

The reviewed literature states that role ambiguity and role conflict are the root causes of most conflicts in the organization. The study by Smith and Cooper, C. (1994) analyzed the relationship between leadership and stress. Precisely, the study aimed to identify whether stress has a significant influence on the performance of the leaders. Particularly, intrinsic factors have been identifying which influence on employee performance including long working hours, travel, the requirement for participation in various meetings. Besides that, the majority of employees reported that introduction and acceptance of the new technology was another cause of the work stress. According to Smith and Cooper, C. (1994) besides intrinsic factors, role ambiguity and conflict also play a major role as a source of stress. Failure to have a clear vision about the specific tasks that should be accomplished by an employee and ongoing conflicts with other team members is found to lead to lower job satisfaction.

Moreover, managerial stress can arise as a result of our relationship with coworkers, colleagues, and subordinates. Many studies revealed that majority of problems arise among employee due to the conflict and arguments which arise between them. This is considered as a leader-follower approach in which majority of followers to get approval from their leaders on particular issues.

The research conducted by Koustelios et al. (2004) has proposed that increasing cases of role ambiguity is more likely to increase the cases of conflict at work. Since conflicts are considered as the main source of diminishing social interactions among employees, the cases of turnover intentions are more likely to occur.

The study of role ambiguity leads to the acceptance of two conclusions. First of them is role ambiguity is found to be related to individual stress. Secondly, role ambiguity is reported to moderate the relationship between leaders behavior and employees job satisfaction. The studies identified the significant and negative relationship between role ambiguity and job satisfaction. Thus, leadership styles that are positive in a manner are found to lessen the influence of role ambiguity on employee performance. leadership literature review

3. Leadership Styles Review

There are several varieties of leaders. Thus, it is difficult to choose the specific type of leadership and mention that it will suit all the contexts. In other words, it is impossible to say that the specific type of leadership is considered as the most desirable and other do not work. The selection of the right type of leadership depends on the context, situation, and followers. leadership literature review

3.1 Leadership Styles

The literature suggests that there are two main categories of the initiating structure leaders which are autocratic leaders and direct leaders. Direct leadership behavior consists of various behaviors including the organization of group work structure, specification, and allocation of tasks among team members, focusing on achieving specific goals and formulating clear means of communication among the team members. On the other hand, autocratic leaders are those who make final decisions without the consideration of team member’s opinion.

3.1.1 Boundary Spanning

Boundary spanning function of leaders is more oriented on collecting and bringing more information for the team members who can assist them in achieving specific objectives. Thus, boundary spanning function of leaders involves collaborating with external sources outside the team that can help them to obtain necessary information. Boundary spanning mainly emphasize the leader of the team as the director rather than a facilitator. leadership literature review

3.1.2 Person-Focused Leadership

The concept behind person-focused leadership can be analyzed based on the four categories of behavior that is transformational, consideration, empowerment and motivational. Regarding the contingency approach, House and & Rizzo J. R. (1974) identified several generic types of leadership:

3.1.3 Directive Leadership

This type of leadership is defined as the type of leadership where leaders provide a direct and unambiguous approach to their followers. Since the subordinates will be provided with necessary direction, guidance, and support, they will be required to achieve expected results in exchange.

3.1.4 Supportive Leadership

Supportive leadership requires a strong understanding of the needs and wants of the subordinates with the aim of providing them with the necessary support. In order to prove this type of leadership effectiveness, it is important for the leaders to be formulating friendly communication with their subordinates as well as the good working environment.

3.1.5 Participative Leadership

Participative leadership is concerned by taking into consideration the inputs and ideas of subordinates. Later, these contributions will be given specific evaluation before making the final decision. This type of leadership focuses on setting high and challenging goals for subordinates in order to ensure their continuous improvement.

Leadership styles that were identified and supported by the GLOBE project were built based on trust, integrity, and vision. According to the conclusions, charismatic and value-based leadership were accepted among all over the world.

3.2 Leadership Types

3.2.1 passive laissez-faire leadership.

This type of leadership does not exercise strict control over their subordinates directly. Most of people in the team are supposed to be highly experienced individuals. Thus, most of them do not need strict control and supervision. Due to the certain disadvantages provided by the leadership, team members may suffer from lack of communication, feedback for improvement and at the end, they may fail to meet the deadline for project completion.

3.2.2. Transformational Leadership

Transformational leaders are reported to work based on the balanced approach. This can be explained by the fact that they help their subordinates to solve some of the challenging issues at the same time they teach their subordinates about the ways of tackling the problems in the similar context. Therefore, researchers believe that role of the transformational leaders can be observed regarding bringing the motivational level of their employees to the stage of self-actualization. Moreover, most common qualities that are used to describe the personality of transformational leaders include charisma, intellectual stimulation. Another name for transformational leadership is a facilitator, in other words, in this case, team members and leaders motivate each other in order to achieve high levels of performance and motivations. Thus, it is considered as one of the most commonly adopted types of leadership where team members encourage each other by different means in order to achieve organizational goals and long-term plans. Unlike other types of leadership, this type of leadership has a high level of communication between the team members. Therefore, the case of transformational leadership was related to the increased levels of motivation, higher job satisfaction, commitment, productivity, and performance. Thus, transformational leader’s control, vision, and enthusiasm inspiring its followers lead to higher results in the management. In this context, the four essential components of the transformational leaders need to be reviewed.

First is the individual consideration (Mumford et al 2000). The second one is intellectual stimulation, which means encouraging the followers to try seeing the issue from the other side and broaden the outlook on specific matters. Third, the inspirational motivation, where the leader stresses on the particular importance of an employee in the team which helps the organization to reach the goal and successful cooperation and accomplishment of the project (Chen et al. 2005).

3.2.3 Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership is defined as the style where the leader either rewards or punishes the employee for the task accomplished. Several studies on leadership found that when the transactional leadership is employed in the organization, the mutual trust between the leader and the task-holder develops. If there is a mistake in the work of subordinates, employees are going to be punished. Thus, employees may perform not at their best, and they may be afraid of making a mistake. As a result, they are less likely to work on new projects and learn new skills and knowledge. In contrast, employees who perform at their best are given good motivation in terms of rewards making them more motivated to work harder.

3.2.4 Task-Focused: Directive Leadership

Directive leadership refers to the style where the leader focuses on the task accomplishment and provides guidance and specifies tasks to avoid ambiguity (Gottfried et al. 2011). Directive leadership style is best applicable to the hierarchical organizational structures where the there is a high probability of task ambiguity among employees.

3.2.5 Person-Focused Leadership

Person-focused leaders offer people to take part in making and contributing their ideas while making significant decisions. It is worth to mention that person-oriented leader is more likely to energize people for the work they accomplish. Thus, they are more likely to be oriented to the person rather than to the task. One of the significant benefits of person-oriented leadership is that it focuses on employee-relationship management by formulating a strong relationship with customers and they make their employees make the difference in the company.

4. Impact of Role Stressors on Job Performance

4.1. role conflict and role ambiguity.

Generally, according to the analysis of role theory, there are two main reasons which can be used to explain why an increase in role ambiguity results in a work-related conflict. The first widely used reason is related to the level of stress which may arise as a result of role ambiguity. The stress can arise as a result of accomplishing undesirable tasks or working in an organizational environment which does not have any organizational policies. Moreover, an increased case of role stressors also makes it difficult to resolve role conflicts at work. In this regard, it is important to mention some of the important theories of conflict. According to the traditional view of the conflict, it is regarded as a process which should be dealt and resolved accordingly, otherwise, it may cause different tensions among the employees which will decrease their levels of job satisfaction and commitment. Unlike traditional view, human resources view of conflict suggests that conflict is regarded as an inevitable process. Thus, it is natural for people to observe the conflict in often cases. On top of that, according to human resource view of the conflict, it is believed that ongoing cases of conflict play an essential role in fostering competition and leads to the creation of more positive ideas. Thus, second reason proposed by role theory can be related to human resource view of conflict which mentions that conflicts are an inevitable part of the organizational environment.

Unclear and uncertain expectations within a certain role especially in the case of workplace lead to role ambiguity. Moreover, when job and related responsibilities of an individual are not clearly defined, it is regarded as role ambiguity (Pearce et al. 2009). When it is not dealt according to taking necessary measures, it can have a negative consequence for the organizational performance of the worker (Datnow, 2001; Arami, 2016). When the role responsibilities of the employees are clearly defined, and clear expectations are set, it can help them to achieve more positive results by meeting organizational job requirements.

4.2. Leadership and Organization Performance

Several numbers of researchers have traditionally focused on the importance of in-role behavior. Moreover, the studies have mainly focused on the type of behavior as job performance and task performance, which is essential for effective functioning of an organization. Role requirements are essential in this regard to measure the job performance. In the role, the behavior is considered as an important factor which is used to measure the job performance (Avey et al., 2010). In-role behavior describes the “performance on required duties and responsibilities.”

According to Distefano (2002) success in the global market is largely dependent on the manager’s ability to lead their subordinates. The major finding of the study was that exceptional performances of the leaders among different countries were universal.

The study of the group work by Watson (2002) can be analyzed about important levels. These levels include group level, organizational level, group process and group effectiveness. According to the findings of Watson’s study, group level, and organizational level has a positive influence in increasing open communication and supportiveness. Moreover, important elements of group process such as open communication and supportiveness are found to increase group effectiveness.

The conflict is regarded as one of the major obstacles which can negatively influence the productivity of the employees. Several studies managed to discover the relationship between these two important variables; there is some investigation which discovered no relationship (Watson, 2005; William, 2012). This can be explained by the fact that there might be the influence of other factors on job cooperation.

Resolving role ambiguity has a positive impact on increasing the job performance. The findings of papers show that there is a statistically significant and negative relationship between resolving role ambiguity and increased job performance. According to the goal-setting theory, subordinates are more likely to show high levels of commitment and responsibility when they are informed about the goals they have to achieve. The goals setting theory proves to be the most commonly used theory which is used as the theoretical basis of many studies involved in studying the relationship role ambiguity and job performance (Simon, 2014; Shepherd, 1994, Pearce et al. 2009). Previous studies conducted in the field found that resolving role ambiguity have a positive influence on increasing job satisfaction. However, the influence of role ambiguity on job cooperation was not analyzed by many scholars.

Increased job cooperation is linked to increased levels of job satisfaction among the employees. It has been reported that satisfied and happy employees are more likely to cooperate with their colleagues by sharing and exchanging knowledge. In this regard, it can be mentioned the majority of the studies focused on finding the relationship between job satisfaction and job performance (Larson, 2012; Watson, 2002; Mumford, 2000). Moreover, there were studies that could not identify the relationship between these two variables (Keegan et al. 2004; Wilson, 2001; Barsade and Gibson, 2007).

5. Discussion

Leadership is believed to be subject to strategic planning. Leadership is found to play an important role in providing common direction and commitment. The collective work strategy is strongly related to the pursuit of successful leadership style. In a highly competitive world, it is crucial for the organizations to be aware of the potential impact of role stressors. As it can be seen from the review of the previous literature and findings of the current research, role stressors such as role ambiguity and role conflict are found as the most important source of job dissatisfaction and job performance. Understanding the nature of role stressors and potential sources which may cause them to will help organizations to take control of managing role stressors.

Laissez-faire leadership is the least effective type of leadership styles. Many studies found out that the current type of leadership was the least productive. Majority of these studies mentioned that laissez-faire leaders were considered as the main culprits of role conflict. Due to the nature of the laissez-faire type of leadership, subordinates can have challenges regarding identifying their responsibilities and daily tasks (Simon, 2014). The laissez-faire type of leadership encourages the role ambiguity among the subordinates. The result of the current studies showed that there is a positive relationship between laissez-faire leadership and role ambiguity. It is also important to mention that final decision making is strongly dependent on the laissez-faire leaders although they provide complete power and freedom to their subordinates in accomplishments of daily tasks.

Role conflict is an evolving problem among team members (Seifert et al, 2003). Role conflict can result in different undesirable results such as lower productivity, damaged relationship and even can lead to absenteeism (Skogstad et al, 2007). One of the potential sources of role conflict can be linked to matrix organizational structure used by the leaders. As a result of matrix structure, subordinates face some drawbacks such as mixed communication and reporting lines, increased competition for resources and in many circumstances, they have to deal with different management styles of the leaders and managers. Transformational leaders deliver strong and concise coaching for each follower so that the members of the organization would not endure any confusion in their roles (Barrow, 1977). Thus, transformational leaders in most cases prevent the issue of role ambiguity, which implies that transformational leaders have a negative impact on role ambiguity which is justified by the findings of the current study. leadership literature review

Transactional leaders pay attention to the duties and responsibilities of every team member as it is crucial to specify the role of each employee in the organization to stay away from the cases of role conflict. The review of the literature shows that several characteristics shown by transactional leaders are more likely to have a negative impact on role conflict, by decreasing its chances of occurrence. Transactional leaders mark an agreement between followers and him concerning the importance of each task detail that needs to be accomplished within the certain period. (Mach et al. 2010). As a result, higher levels of transactional leaders are found to decrease the likelihood of occurrence of role ambiguity. leadership literature review

Resolving role ambiguity and role conflict is believed to increase the job performance. Increasing job performance is found to have a positive influence on increasing job cooperation. The review of the literature shows that the relationship between job performance and job cooperation was somewhat controversial in the literature. However, the recent studies show that there is a significant relationship between job performance and job cooperation. The idea behind role theory suggests that organizational environment plays an important role in identifying the main roles of individuals since these rules clearly state what is expected from the employees. The role of the leaders and their characteristics and leadership styles are key to improving the effectiveness and productivity of the workforce. The findings of the study suggest that transactional and transformational leadership are impactful on role ambiguity and conflict. leadership literature review

6. Conclusion

Each leadership style is unique regarding their cooperation and communication, motivation, objective setting and decision making. Based on the review of the literature, the study provides a literature review which consists of transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership. The influence of various types of leadership styles is analyzed for role conflict and role ambiguity. The review is meant to analyze the influence of styles and characteristics of transformational, transactional and laissez-faire type of leadership in resolving role ambiguity and role conflict to increase job performance.

It is critical for the leaders to bear in mind of potential side effects of role ambiguity and role conflict which is detrimental to the process of employees’ productivity and effectiveness. A clear understanding of employee needs and clear picture of potential negative effects of role ambiguity and role conflict can encourage leaders to take effective measures to create a better organizational environment where employees can work upon their best potential. If undertaken effectively, leaders will tend to transform the companies to be the more inclusive place to work through active and dynamic processes which will be accomplished by overcoming job stressors such as role conflict and role ambiguity. Moreover, leaders and their management styles also play a critical role in managing role conflicts and finding main sources of role stressors. For instance, a mentoring function which is represented in all types of leadership plays an important role in managing role stressors.

The review of the literature can be good evidence to claim that the field of leadership is quite diverse and there are many unexplored areas of leadership that can be critical to the success of the organizations. Moreover, the future research can take into consideration various leadership theories and identify their influence to overcome role stressors. One of the important theories of the leadership is trait theory. Based on the trait theory, the future research can consider the importance of specific leadership characteristics which can improve the job performance and cooperation.

  • Arami, M. (2016). Comparison of the leadership style of male and female managers in Kuwait: An empirical investigation. Journal of International Business Research and Marketing. Volume 1, Issue 2, January 2016, Pages 37-40.
  • Bardes, M., & Piccolo, R. F. (2010). Goal setting as an antecedent of destructive leader behaviors. When leadership goes wrong: Destructive leadership, mistakes and ethical failures, 3-22.
  • Barrow, J. C. (1977). The variables of leadership: A review and conceptual framework. Academy of Management Review, 2(2), 231-251.
  • Barsade, S.G. and Gibson, D.E. (2007). ‘‘Why does affect matter in organizations?’’, Academy of Management Perspectives, Vol. 21, February, pp. 36-59. Crossref
  • Bass, B. and Avolio, J. (1990). The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press
  • Bass, B. M. (1990). From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision. Organizational dynamics, 18(3), 19-31. Crossref
  • Bass, B. M., & Avolio, B. J. (2000). Platoon readiness as a function of leadership, platoon, and company cultures. State Univ of New York At Binghamton. Crossref
  • Bond, R., & Smith, P. B. (1996). Culture and conformity: A meta-analysis of studies using Asch’s (1952b, 1956) line judgment task. Psychological bulletin, 119(1), 111. Crossref
  • Boyett, J. H. (2006). Transformational leadership: The highly effective leader/follower relationship. The Science of Leadership, 1-9.
  • Chen, H., Beck, S., and Amos, L. (2005). Leadership styles and nursing faculty job satisfaction in Taiwan. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 37, 374–380. Crossref
  • Cohen, S. G., & Bailey, D. E. (1997). What makes teams work: Group effectiveness research from the shop floor to the executive suite. Journal of management, 23(3), 239-290. Crossref
  • Daniels, K. and Bailey, A. (1999). Strategy development processes and participation in decision making: predictors of role stressors and job satisfaction. Journal of applied management studies, 8(1), p.27.
  • Datnow, A., and Castellano, M. E. (2001). Managing and guiding school reform: Leadership in success for all schools. Educational Administration Quarterly, 37(2), 219-249. Crossref
  • Deming, W. E. (1993). The new economics. MIT Center for Advanced Engineering Study, Cambridge, MA, 51-56.
  • Dragoni, L. (2005). Understanding the emergence of state goal orientation in organizational units: The role of leadership and multilevel climate perceptions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 1084 –1095. Crossref
  • Drucker, P. F. (1989). What business can learn from nonprofits. Harvard business review, 67(4), 88-93.
  • Dubinsky, A. J., Yammarino, F. J., Jolson, M. A., and Spangler, W. D. (1995). Transformational leadership: An initial investigation in sales management. Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, 15(2), 17-31.
  • Edmonson, C., Sumagaysay, D., Cueman, M., & Chappell, S. (2016). The nurse leader role in crisis management. Journal of Nursing Administration, 46(9), 417-419. Crossref
  • Fleishman, E. A., Mumford, M. D., Zaccaro, S. J., Levin, K. Y., Korotkin, A. L., & Hein, M. B. (1991). Taxonomic efforts in the description of leader behavior: A synthesis and functional interpretation. The Leadership Quarterly, 2(4), 245-287. Crossref
  • Gottfried, A. E., Gottfried, A. W., Reichard, R. J., Guerin, D. W., Oliver, P. H., and Riggio, R. E. (2011). Motivational roots of leadership: A longitudinal study from childhood through adulthood. The Leadership Quarterly, 22(3), 510–519. Crossref
  • Gyensare, M. A., Anku-Tsede, O., Sanda, M. A., & Okpoti, C. A. (2016). Transformational leadership and employee turnover intention: The mediating role of affective commitment. World Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development, 12(3), 243-266. Crossref
  • Hamoud, M. W., Tarhini, A., Akour, M. A., & Al-Salti, Z. (2016). Developing the main knowledge management process via social media in the IT organisations: A conceptual perspective. International Journal of Business Administration, 7(5), 49
  • Hauge, L.J., Einarsen, S., Knardahl, S., Lau, B., Notelaers, G. and Skogstad, A. (2011). Leadership and role stressors as departmental level predictors of workplace bullying. International Journal of Stress Management, 18(4), p.305. Crossref
  • House, R. J., and Rizzo, J. R. (1972). Role conflict and ambiguity as critical variables in a model of organizational behavior. Organizational behavior and human performance, 7(3), 467-505. Crossref
  • Ilgen, D. R., Hollenbeck, J. R., Johnson, M., & Jundt, D. (2005). Teams in organizations: From input-process-output models to IMOI models.  Rev. Psychol., 56, 517-543. Crossref
  • Jesuit, D. K., & Sych, L. (2012). Local economic development and cross-border networks. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 25(6/7), 473-482. Crossref
  • Keegan, A. E., and Den Hartog, D. N. (2004). Transformational leadership in a project-based environment: a comparative study of the leadership styles of project managers and line managers. International journal of project management, 22(8), 609-617. Crossref
  • Kirkman, B. L., Lowe, K. B., & Gibson, C. B. (2006). A quarter century of culture’s consequences: A review of empirical research incorporating Hofstede’s cultural values framework. Journal of international business studies, 37(3), 285-320. Crossref
  • Kirkpatick S. A., & Locke, E. A. (1991). Leadership: do traits matter?. The executive, 5(2), 48-60. Crossref
  • Koustelios, A., Theodorakis, N., & Goulimaris, D. (2004). Role ambiguity, role conflict and job satisfaction among physical education teachers in Greece. International Journal of Educational Management, 18(2), 87-92. Crossref
  • Locke, E. A. (1991). The motivation sequence, the motivation hub, and the motivation core. Organizational behavior and human decision processes. Crossref
  • Mach, M., Dolan, S. and Tzafrir, S. (2010). “The differential effect of team members’ trust on team performance: the mediation role of team cohesion”, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 83 No. 3, pp. 771-94. Crossref
  • Marginson, D., & Ogden, S. (2005). Coping with ambiguity through the budget: the positive effects of budgetary targets on managers’ budgeting behaviours. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 30(5), 435-456. Crossref
  • Mohrman, S. A., Cohen, S. G., & Morhman Jr, A. M. (1995). Designing team-based organizations: New forms for knowledge work. Jossey-Bass.
  • Mumford, M., Zaccaro, S. J., Johnson, J. F., Diana, M., Gilbert, J. A. and Threlfall, K. (2000). Patterns of leader characteristics: Implications for performance and development. The Leadership Quarterly, 11(1), 115–133. Crossref
  • Osterman, P. (1994). Supervision, discretion, and work organization. The American Economic Review, 84(2), 380-384
  • Pearce, J. L. (1981). Bringing some clarity to role ambiguity research. Academy of Management Review, 6(4), 665-674.
  • Pearce, C.L., Manz, C.C. and Sims, H.P. (2009). “Is shared leadership the key to team success?”, Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 38 No. 3, pp. 234-8. Crossref
  • Peterson, M. F., Smith, P. B., Akande, A., Ayestaran, S., Bochner, S., Callan, V. and Hofmann, K. (1995). Role conflict, ambiguity, and overload: A 21-nation study. Academy of Management Journal, 38(2), 429-452. Crossref
  • Rhoades, L., & Eisenberger, R. (2002). Perceived organizational support: a review of the literature. Journal of applied psychology, 87(4), 698. Crossref
  • Seifert, D. L., Stammerjohan, W. W., & Martin, R. B. (2013). Trust, organizational justice, and whistleblowing: A research note. Behavioral Research in Accounting, 26(1), 157-168. Crossref
  • Shepherd, C. D. and Fine, L. M. (1994). Scaling and measurement: Role conflict and role ambiguity reconsidered. Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, 14(2), 57-65.
  • Skogstad, A., Einarsen, S., Torsheim, T., Aasland, M. S. and Hetland, H. (2007). The destructiveness of laissez-faire leadership behavior. Journal of occupational health psychology, 12(1), 80. Crossref
  • Smith, M. and Cooper, C. (1994). “Leadership and Stress”, Leadership and Organization Development Journal, Vol. 15 Issue: 2, pp.3-7. Crossref
  • Teece, D. J., Pisano, G., & Shuen, A. (1997). Dynamic capabilities and strategic management. Strategic management journal, 18(7), 509-533. Crossref
  • Van Sell, M., Brief, A. P., and Schuler, R. S. (1981). Role conflict and role ambiguity: Integration of the literature and directions for future research. Human relations, 34(1), 43-71. Crossref
  • Watson, W. E., Johnson, L., and Zgourides, G. D. (2002). The influence of ethnic diversity on leadership, group process, and performance: An examination of learning teams. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 26, 1–16. Crossref
  • Yammarino, F. J., and Bass, B. M. (1990). Long-term forecasting of transformational leadership and its effects among naval officers: Some preliminary findings. In K. E. Clark, and M. B. Clark (Eds.), Measures of leadership (pp. 151–171). West Orange, NJ: Leadership Library of America
  • Yang, I. (2015). Positive effects of laissez-faire leadership: conceptual exploration. Journal of Management Development, 34(10), 1246-1261. Crossref
  • Zaccaro, S. J., Kemp, C. and Bader, P. (2004). Leader traits and attributes. In J. Antonakis, A.T. Cianciolo and R.J. Sternberg (Eds.). The Nature of Leadership. (pp. 101–124). , Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

leadership literature review

Suggested articles.

Towards Optimal Cooperation and Job Performance: The Impact of Leadership on Role Ambiguity and Role Conflict

The critical importance of role stressors which include role ambiguity and role stressors is considered…

laissez faire leadership

The paper explores the ways to achieve superior job performance and cooperation among employees. The…

literature review on leadership skills

The main purpose of this study is to analyze the type of leadership that can…

Management Information Systems

Management information systems are reported to be beneficial for the operations of the company from…

Related Posts

literature review on leadership skills

Academic Staff Cultural Intelligence and Job Performance in Nigerian Universities

impact of stress on employee productivity

The Impact of Work Stress on Employee Productivity: Based in the Banking sector of Faisalabad, Pakistan

literature review on leadership skills

Role Conflict and Role Ambiguity Impact on Collective Efficacy – towards Team Cohesion

Comments are closed.

  • English (selected)
  • Bahasa Indonesia

Welcome to Scribd!

  • Language (EN)
  • Read for free
  • FAQ and support
  • What is Scribd?
  • Sheet music
  • Documents (selected)

Explore Ebooks

  • Bestsellers
  • Editors' Picks
  • Contemporary Fiction
  • Literary Fiction
  • Religion & Spirituality
  • Personal Growth
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Paranormal, Occult & Supernatural
  • Historical Fiction
  • Science & Mathematics
  • Study Aids & Test Prep
  • Small Business & Entrepreneurs

Explore Audiobooks

  • All audiobooks
  • Contemporary
  • Mysteries & Thrillers
  • Science Fiction
  • Adventurers & Explorers
  • Inspirational
  • New Age & Spirituality

Explore Magazines

  • All magazines
  • Business News
  • Entertainment News
  • Personal Finance
  • Strategic Planning
  • Sports & Recreation
  • Video Games
  • Exercise & Fitness
  • Cooking, Food & Wine
  • Crafts & Hobbies

Explore Podcasts

  • All podcasts
  • Mystery, Thriller & Crime Fiction
  • Social Science
  • Jazz & Blues
  • Movies & Musicals
  • Pop & Rock
  • Religious & Holiday
  • Drums & Percussion
  • Guitar, Bass, and Fretted
  • Intermediate

Explore Documents

  • Academic Papers
  • Business Templates
  • Court Filings
  • All documents
  • Bodybuilding & Weight Training
  • Martial Arts
  • Christianity
  • Performing Arts
  • Body, Mind, & Spirit
  • Weight Loss
  • Self-Improvement
  • Technology & Engineering
  • Political Science

Literature Review On Leadership

Uploaded by, document information, original title, available formats, share this document, share or embed document, sharing options.

  • Share on Facebook, opens a new window Facebook
  • Share on Twitter, opens a new window Twitter
  • Share on LinkedIn, opens a new window LinkedIn
  • Share with Email, opens mail client Email
  • Copy Link Copy Link

Did you find this document useful?

Is this content inappropriate, original title:, analysis of leadership styles and school performance of secondary schools in uganda., dr. yusuf k. k nsubuga.

Abstract The study sought to analyze the leadership styles of head teachers and school performance of secondary schools in Uganda. quantitative methods. It was a mixed study that used both the qualitative and It adopted a The study was conducted in Uganda to investigate the relationship

between the leadership style of head teachers and performance in schools.

correlation survey research design that helped in establishing the relationship of leadership styles and school performance. In this regard, data for this study was collected on the independent variable, which was leadership styles, and that of the dependent variable, which was school performance. The relationship between the two variables was investigated in order to determine the strength of their relationship and the coefficients of determination existing between them. Together with observations during school visits, interviews were also conducted with head teachers and teachers and focused group discussions were held with selected students and parents, to identify factors affecting school performance and the effectiveness and relationship between leadership styles and school performance. The researcher discovered on the basis of an extensive literature review and the in-depth research undertaken that head teachers adopt a range of leadership styles. However, for the purposes of this investigation, the researcher examined the relationship between leadership styles in general and school performance, and later analyzed four leadership styles in relation to school performance. While noting the many challenges and demands made on the head teachers during the execution of their tasks, the study underscored the need for the development of management and leadership skills amongst head teachers. The study established that unless head teachers are well equipped with knowledge and skills in management and leadership, they would not be able to improve 1

Dr Yusuf K. Nsubuga is the Director, Basic and Secondary Education Ministry of Education and Sports

school performance significantly.

The study established that effective school performance.

requires visionary leadership, amongst others, and that there is a strong relationship between visionary leadership and transformational leadership, which is recommended for education leaders.

INTRODUCTION Globally, educating a nation remains the most vital strategy for the development of the society throughout the developing world (Aikaman & Unterhalter, 2005). Many studies on human capital development concur that it is the human resources of a nation and not its capital or natural resources that ultimately determine the pace of its economic and social development. The principal institutional mechanism for developing human capital is the formal education system of primary, secondary, and tertiary training (Nsubuga, 2003). Since education is an investment, there is a significant positive correlation between education and economic-social productivity. When people are educated, their standards of living are likely to improve, since they are empowered to access productive ventures, which will ultimately lead to an improvement in their livelihoods. The role of education therefore, is not just to impart knowledge and skills that enable the beneficiaries to function as economies and social change agents in society, but also to impart values, ideas, attitudes and aspirations important for natural development. The straightforward linkage between education is through the improvement of labor skills, which in turn increases opportunities for well paid productive employment. This then might enable the citizens of any nation to fully exploit the potential positively. In Uganda, formal education is based on seven years of primary and six years of secondary education. Vocational, technical and academic courses are offered through post primary education and training institutions. The education system, particularly secondary education, is still centrally managed by the Ministry of Education and Sport (MoES) whilst primary education is managed by local district administrations. Uganda has consistently developed its education system, since it returned to stable government. Gross enrollment rates in primary schools at present is over 100%, because both under age and over age pupils are enrolled as education is free. After the introduction of the policy of free Universal Primary Education (UPE), the

enrolment in primary schools increased substantially. The number of learners graduating from grade seven is set to more than double by 2010 and the selection of learners into secondary schools is becoming very competitive. The Government of Uganda developed a new policy on Post Primary Education and Training (PPET), which preceded the introduction of Universal Secondary Education (USE) to meet rising demand and increase access to secondary schools and beyond (MoES, 2006). The goal is not only to increase equitable access, but also to improve quality and efficiency in the management of secondary schools. Mass participation will require new management approaches. Such policy reforms may need good leadership so that the government achieves its objective of access and quality education. The role and importance of secondary education in national development is of utmost importance. Failure to expand access at secondary education level will undermine efforts to sustain UPE, and the achievement of the education related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Transition rates into the lower secondary level may fall unless access to lower secondary schooling is expanded (World Bank Report, 1995). In addition, the competitiveness, especially in high value added and knowledge based sectors of the economy, depends on knowledge, skills and competences associated with abstract reasoning, analysis, language and communication skills and application of science and technology which are most efficiently acquired through secondary education schooling (Lewin, 2001). Mass education at secondary education level, however, may require new leadership approaches in order to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. Improved efficiency is needed and can be achieved through management reforms; raising the learner teacher ratio, increasing teachers time on task, reducing repetition and improving accountability (Nsubuga, 2003). Through inefficiency much learning time is lost in many Sub-Saharan African (SSA) education systems. Twenty five percent or more of school days may be lost each year in poorly managed schools (Lewin, 2001). Leadership at work in education institutions is thus a dynamic process where an individual is not only responsible for the groups tasks, but also actively seeks the collaboration and commitment of all the group members in achieving group goals in a particular context (Cole, 2002). Leadership in that context pursues effective performance in schools, because it does not only

examine tasks to be accomplished and who executes them, but also seeks to include greater reinforcement characteristics like recognition, conditions of service and morale building, coercion and remuneration (Balunywa, 2000). Thus, leadership incorporates the accomplishment of the task, which is the organizational requirement and the satisfaction of employees, which is the human resource requirement (Okumbe, 1999). Maicibi (2005) contends that, without a proper leadership style, effective performance cannot be realized in schools. Even if the school has all the required instructional materials and financial resources, it will not be able to use them effectively, if the students are not directed in their use, or if the teachers who guide in their usage are not properly trained to implement them effectively. Armstrong (2004) defines leadership as influence, power and the legitimate authority acquired by a leader to be able to effectively transform the organization through the direction of the human resources that are the most important organizational asset, leading to the achievement of desired purpose. This can be done through the articulation of the vision and mission of the organization at every moment, and influence the staff to define their power to share this vision. This is also described by Sashkin and Sashkin (2003) as visionary leadership. However,

according to them, the concept of leadership that matters is not being limited to those at the top of the organization such as the chief executive officer or principal/head teacher, but depends on certain characteristics of the leader. It involves much more than the leaders personality in which leadership is seen as more of mutating followers to achieve goals (Shashkin, 2003:2). This is supported by Lav Tzu (as reported in Shashkin, 2003:7) that good leadership commits to doing less and being more. Good performance in any secondary school should not only be considered in terms of academic rigor, but should also focus on other domains of education like the affective and psychomotor domains. This should be the vision of every leader in such a school and the cherished philosophy, structures, and activities of the school could be geared towards the achievement of this shared vision. However, Cole (2002) defines leadership as inspiring people to perform. Even if an institution has all the financial resources to excel, it may fail dismally if the leadership does not motivate others to accomplish their tasks effectively.

What is performance then and how is it measured in the context of schools? Brumbach (1988), as quoted in Armstrong (2004), contends that performance refers to both behaviors and results, and adjusting organizational behaviors and actions of work to achieve results or outcomes. Behaviors are outcomes in their own right and reactions to the product of mental and physical effort applied to tasks. In school environments therefore, performance should not only be defined in terms of test scores, examination results, students ability to socially apply what is learnt, and the rate at which students move on to higher institutions of learning, but should consider the achievements of the school in other areas like equipping the learners with the requisite skills for survival. School performance in the Ugandan context mainly entails; teaching consistently with diligence, honesty and regularity orchestrated by increased good results from students; setting adequate written and practical exercises, ensuring effective marking, evaluating all exercises promptly and carefully and observing academic regulations and instructions (Uganda Teaching Service Commission Regulations, 1996). The feeling by many people, including the researcher, is that this is a shallow understanding of school performance. The researcher is of the view that performance of any school should not only be considered from the academic outcomes only, but should also focus on other education outcomes such as the affective domains and the psychomotor skills. Contextually, in Uganda today, there is a desire to ensure that the best school head teachers lead secondary schools, because of the rapid growth in secondary school education orchestrated by the successful implementation of the UPE program, which has grown tremendously since its inception in 1997. The introduction of UPE led to increased enrolment in government aided primary schools from 2.9 million in 1996 to 6.8 million in 2001, up to 7.3 million in 2006 (MoES, 2007). This influx led to the need to increase access opportunities at the next level of secondary education. However, the increase in secondary education necessitates instituting responsible leadership in secondary education institutions (MoES, 2007). In addition, government adopted a policy to

liberalize education services and since the late 1990s, many private secondary schools have mushroomed; most being run commercially for profit. Since private schools have increased their intake levels, their school performance is of greater concern than ever before. This brings into perspective the prior thrust for an improvement in standards and performance, which the MoES (2007) is eager to attain. The subsequent introduction of USE in 2007, aimed to ensure that this program does not only increase access, but also improves the schools education outcomes on an ongoing basis. However, improvement in performance requires that schools are well led by competent school heads. In fact, the MoES is posting people of the highest education management qualifications to head schools in the hope that these can better employ the best leadership principles. In addition, the MoES is frequently conducting workshops for head teachers and deputy head teachers on leadership, in order to help improve their leadership skills. However, despite the above, most schools performance is still wanting. In some secondary schools there is increasing poor performance in mainly the science subjects. The poor performance in science subjects was attributed partly to poor leadership at the school level. Since teacher morale and welfare is so low at present many of them are forced to work at more than one school (Namirembe: 2005) . Indiscipline in secondary schools is also on the increase, which affects the quality of education outcomes in schools. (Namirembe: 2005) argues that many secondary schools still lack the necessary performance requirements, not only because of inadequate funds or even poor facilities, but as a result of poor leadership.

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM Although it is the Ugandan governments policy to ensure the delivery of quality education in secondary schools in Uganda, performance, particularly in Science subjects has remained poor, despite the various interventions by policy makers and implementers. Such a situation is alarming, bearing in mind that science subjects play a pivotal role in the development of any country. Equally important, are the overarching policies of Ugandas education, which strongly

emphasize the importance of science education in national development. For example, both the White Paper on Education and the Education Sector Strategic Development Plan focus on the promotion of science subjects as the way forward for the development of the country. Apart from poor performance in science subjects, performance in other areas of education is also poor. Schools do not perform well in other aspects of education as well. Scholars, policy makers and school managers have resolved to address the poor academic performance in secondary schools by conducting research on its would be antecedents such as a lack of instructional materials, ensuring quality teachers, admitting good students, remuneration and the motivation of teachers, improving discipline and community participation in schools. Furthermore, although all the above studies have been conducted, no study on leadership and school performance in secondary schools was encountered at the time this study was undertaken. However, a number of studies have been conducted on school performance in schools in Uganda. For example, Odubuker (2007) conducted a study to investigate the influence of the head teachers management competences on the management of primary schools in North Western Uganda in order to improve the teaching and learning process. The findings from the study revealed that the principals or head teachers management training was critical to the performance of the school. Similarly, Mpierwe (2007) conducted a study to examine the effect of management of instruction materials on teacher performance in primary schools in the Kampala district. The purpose of the study was to determine the influence of coordination of instructional materials on teacher performance and to assess whether teacher involvement in the selection of instructional materials has an effect on teacher performance. performance in schools. However, at the time this study was conducted, not sufficient was known about the contribution of any single factor and indeed the relationship between leadership and school performance. Hence this study was intended to investigate the head teachers leadership style and the performance of secondary schools in Uganda. It was also thought that an investigation in this area would shed light on the factors affecting performance and in particular the effect of leadership styles on school performance. The findings from the study revealed that there was a positive relationship between instructional materials and teachers

On the basis of this background, the study proposed to ask the question:

To what extent do the leadership styles adopted by head teachers have an influence on the schools performance? The study aimed to examine how leadership styles adopted by school head teachers influence the schools overall performance in secondary schools in Uganda. The objective was to investigate the relationship between leadership styles and school performance, and the specific objectives pursued were: To establish the relationship between the demographic characteristics of head teachers and teachers and school performance. To establish whether performance in secondary schools in Uganda is dependent on the autocratic leadership style of school head teachers. To establish whether performance in secondary schools in Uganda is dependent on the democratic leadership style of school head teachers. To investigate whether performance in secondary schools in Uganda is dependent on the situational or contingency leadership style of school head teachers. To elicit the viewpoints of head teachers, teachers and students on the preferred leadership styles. To make recommendations for the improvement of schools on the basis of an analysis of leadership styles.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN To examine and analyze leadership factors that affect performance in secondary education, a multi-pronged approach commonly referred to as triangulation (Cohen & Manion,2001; Punch, 1998), combining both quantitative and qualitative research methods, was adopted. It was anticipated that the survey questionnaire would provide the breadth of coverage, which could be credibly applied, to a wider population from which the sample of the study was drawn (Brown & Dowling, 1998).

Whilst quantitative methods tend to be relatively low in cost and time requirements (Punch, 1998) since they enable a large quantity of relevant data to be amassed and subjected to statistical analysis in a short space of time, the interview and documentary analysis would offer the depth and useful insights regarding leadership styles in secondary school management in Uganda. Whilst qualitative methods raise methodological and ethical issues pertaining to the influence of the researcher on the data collected and the informants, the quantitative approach is limited to highly structured data extraction techniques, which often, as suggested by Cresswell,in Ssesanga(2004), do not accommodate maneuverability during the problem investigation phase.

Population and sampling The study was conducted in three of the five traditional regions in Uganda. The sample of 625 included: 24 head teachers, 200 teachers, 351 students, 40 parents and 10 officials of the MoES. Purposive cluster sampling was used for the purposes of the study. Gay and Airasian (2003) define purposive sampling as one which involves selecting a sample based on experiences or knowledge of the group to be sampled. Cluster sampling was used to select three regions from the whole Uganda. Geographical regions are natural groupings (Gall, 1989; Babbie, 1990;) which can be grouped into clusters. Then using stratified random sampling the three regions were divided into sub groups called strata. The stratas comprised districts from which two schools from each district were selected.

Data collection strategies Data collection strategies included interviews, documentary survey, questionnaires, focus group discussions and observational visits to selected schools. Semi structured interviews were conducted on headsteachers, teachers while focused group interviews were used on students and parents. These enabled the researcher to elicit the opinions of the participants on the impact of the leadership style on school performance. In order to cover a large sample of respondents and to make the study more generalisable questionnaires were used. In addition, the researcher reviewed

various documents and policies on secondary school performance. Data were analyzed by using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. In this study however, some limitations were met. In the first instance although it would have been useful to include more schools to attain a broader understanding of the relationship between leadership styles and school performance in secondary schools in Uganda, in this study it was not possible due to inadequate resources. Consequently, only 24 schools from 3 regions were sampled. Another limitation was the scarcity of recent literature relating to the relationship between leadership and performance of schools in the Uganda context. Most of the recent literature that was accessible was from western countries, which was not always relevant to the local situation in Uganda. The study was also limited to a representative sample due to the high expenses involved in terms of time and funds if a longitudinal study had to be conducted. Furthermore, the representative sample used was limited in scope to enable the generalization of the findings from the study on the effect of leadership styles on school performance in secondary schools. The findings of this study may consequently not be generalized to all schools in the country, since different geographical areas may have their own peculiar characteristics in terms of location, the socioeconomic status of parents and the culture of schools.

Presentation and discussion of findings The study established that more than half of the teachers who participated in the study were below 40 years of age. It was revealed that the younger the teachers the more authoritarian the head teachers tended to be.

HEAD TEACHERS TRAINING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT It was found by the researcher that head teachers were well trained as teachers, but not as school managers. The training given to head teachers when training as teachers is inadequate to prepare them for leadership roles. As observed by Mulkeen et al. in Kyeyune (2008), there is a gap in leadership training to prepare head teachers for their roles. Given the education reforms and the many challenges, which come with the reforms, educational leadership is increasingly becoming a big concern. Secondary schools today are faced with challenges that emphasize the demand for effective leadership. Such head teachers do not just require training in general education administration, but specialized training which is capable of imparting the necessary management and leadership skills. It was clear from the study that the head teachers are not able to improve school performance unless they are equipped with certain knowledge, intellectual, social and psychological skills. The discovered that head teachers do not receive induction on appointment. There is therefore a need for a continuous professional development program for the head teachers. Head teachers play many roles and for them to fit the profile of principals that Kowalski in Kyeyune, ( 2008), describes as change agents, they must not only manage but lead. For any reforms to succeed, head teachers, as gatekeepers, must be up to the task and hence the need for continuous professional development

DICHOTOMY OF BOARDING / DAY SCHOOL The study attempted to establish if there were significant differences between boarding and day secondary schools in terms leadership styles of head teachers and school performance. The study revealed no significant difference. The study established that students in boarding schools are only advantaged in that they are in the controlled environment. Time for study is controlled, so they probably have a lot more time to read than the others. Students in day schools are affected by the environmental factors. The

environment for a boarding school is far better, so one finds a larger number of students in boarding schools doing well. Apart from the school environment, the day scholars are sometimes troubled by volatile home environment such as parents misunderstandings sometimes ending up in divorce. Students in day schools but staying in hostels also face enormous challenges.

POLICY AND PLANNING Effective school performance requires visionary leadership. From the head teachers interview responses, many of them did not have clearly articulated vision and mission statements. One of the core functions of a head teacher is to provide direction to his/her subordinates. The head teachers greatest leadership responsibility is that of formulating and articulating the vision of the school. It is through shared vision and mission that the head teacher will be able to offer a sense of direction to his staff. All the staff should be able to have a shared understanding on where the school should be in the foreseeable future. Strategic planning is a very important process in the life of every organization. While a few schools had strategic plans a majority did not. Although the effect of the strategic plans on the schools performance was not apparent, it says a lot about the type of leadership in the school. As a leader, when one fails to plan, then he/she has planned to fail. In this era of results oriented management, management and staff cannot perform well if the goals of the institution and the tasks of the different players are not clearly articulated.

PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT From the study, it has also emerged that the role of parents is instrumental both to the students learning achievement and to the well being and performance of the school. It is the desire of every parent to see his or her children in school; for most parents would wish to see their offspring exceed their education standards. Parents want to see their children successful in life, of course after succeeding in school. However, without the involvement of parents in the management of schools, secondary schools today can hardly expect to achieve good academic results much as they have effective leaders. This is in consonance with findings from Amason

and Sapienza (1997) that parents play a vital role in the school system. They encourage their children to read, as well as support and encourage the teachers to work towards improved students academic achievement. Further still, Amburgey and Rao (1996) observe that school development is dependent on the parent input more than the leadership code. Ballantine (1999:170) in Hornby (2000:1) posits parents are critical to childrens successes during the school years In Uganda, the contribution of the parents particularly through the PTA has been very immense. They have contributed to the infrastructural development of the school, the teachers welfare and together with teachers controlling students discipline. Smalls experience as reported in Oyetunji (2006:132), as a teacher who loves to involve parents in childrens school work indicate that parent-teacher partnership promotes learning and brings about growth in pupils. This is to say that when the school involves parents in the education of their children, it improves pupils performance both in academic work and character, which otherwise may not be achieved by the school alone. From the researchers observations and experience, the leadership of the school plays a major role in this regard. If the school head teacher shows interest and commitment to involve them then they are likely to come on board. This is in tandem with Oyetunjis (2006) argument that the head teacher should be the individual to initiate and facilitate parental involvement in a school. Constantine (in Oyetunji, 2006:100) alludes to the assertion that school leaders do not encourage the parents in school and argues that even though the school leaders claim to delight in parental involvement in school, they limit the relationship by taking actions that do not encourage parental involvement in school, otherwise, parents would have been actively involved in the school activities, and realize their dream for their children. The head teachers leadership style contributes to a larger extent to the parents lack of interest in the affairs of the school. If the head teacher is not transparent and accountable to the parents, then they will distance themselves from the school.

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LEADERSHIP STYLES OF HEAD TEACHERS AND SCHOOL PERFORMANCE In this study, the quantitative approach revealed that the Pearson Correlation Coefficient (R) was 0.615 or 61.5%. This means that there was a strong relationship between leadership styles and school performance in secondary schools in Uganda. In other words, academic performance in secondary schools was explained by the prevailing style of leadership. However, the extent to which leadership styles contribute to student academic performance was weak denoting a coefficient of determination of 0.328 or 32.8%. Leadership style may be a strong factor accounting for the academic performance of students in a school but its degree of influence may be limited if the school does not have good teachers, funds, the head teachers lack experience and the culture of the school towards academic excellence is poor. The rest of the 67.2% is the extent to which extraneous variables like the quality of teachers, availability of school facilities, instructional materials and the experience of head teachers, school culture and nature of students contribute to school performance. It is apparent that leadership plays a very critical role in galvanizing all the other factors in the school together. However, in spite of the importance of leadership, its contribution to improved school performance will not be maximized, unless leadership is distributed and shared with the significant others. The researcher agrees with the school of thought that the concept of leadership must change, as Grant (2006:512) argues that a different understanding of leadership is needed; a shift from leadership as headship to distributed form of leadership. :

THE AUTOCRATIC LEADERSHIP STYLE AND SCHOOL PERFORMANCE Results from the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient indicated that the relationship between the autocratic leadership style and school performance from the teachers questionnaire as -0.65 or -65%. This was interpreted as a strong negative relationship. This simply means that the more autocratic one becomes, the poorer the performance of the school and the contrary is also true. School leaders who use the authoritarian leadership style lead to poor academic

performance, because they adopt harsh leadership styles, which are highly resented by their subordinates. The greater the use of autocratic principles, the poorer the learners academic performance. The coercive style leader often creates a reign of terror, bullying and demeaning his subordinates, roaring with displeasure at the slightest problem. Subordinates get intimidated and stop bringing bad news or any news in fear of getting bashed or blamed for it, and the morale of the workers plummets.

DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP STYLE AND SCHOOL PERFORMANCE From the study it was established that there is a positive moderate relationship between the democratic leadership style and student academic performance in secondary schools in Uganda (48%). The study revealed that most school manages used the democratic style of leadership. Schools are composed of intelligent people whose ideas are crucial in the day-to-day running of the same schools. Teachers, students and prefects, for example, have the capacity to advise effectively on academic matters in the school. Their ideas and contributions cannot be ignored. This approach to management has led many school managers to rely on participatory governance mechanisms or the democratic leadership style. The leader in the school uses the democratic leadership style to build trust, respect and commitment because the style allows people to have a say in decisions that affect their goals and how they do their work. Students in schools need to be involved in the schools administration and in the implementation of decisions because these affect them directly. School head teachers contended that democracy was the best leadership strategy for school environments because schools are systems with parts that are interrelated. The head teachers, for example, have to motivate the teachers to participate in decision-making because academic progress depends on the quality of teaching exhibited. Today there is a very strong school of thought that schools can no longer be managed by a lone figure at the top of the hierarchy.

This in my view is an example of good modeling and indeed this is the cost of leadership. But also in the process of working with them, the head teacher might set the direction and also articulate the vision of the school. The study also discovered that leadership is critical to the performance of the school as a whole. In many of the schools that were studied, teachers had this to say

It is the role of leadership to mobilize the resources and putting them to proper use and again, it is the head teachers to set the direction. When this is in place, then the school has to perform. This in agreement with the common sense view, that leaders are essential and have an impact on the performance of the organization (James & Connolly, 2000). In addition, departments were empowered to lay strategies in order to improve teaching and learning in the school. The study revealed that good leadership was associated with a caring environment in the school. In one of the schools studied, students had this to say

We are given good food and the teachers and the head teachers do care for us. The head teacher even tries to be around even during the night. This kind of caring environment is sometimes associated with good leadership and may lead to improved education outcomes. It may also lead to a situation where students can develop a culture of confiding in their teachers. In such cases when and where the home environment worsens, the learners can always use the school as the last resort. This may improve the performance of the learners. This seems to be in agreement with Wings (2003) view that the feeling that no one cares is pervasive and corrosive. Real learning is difficult to sustain in an atmosphere rife with mistrust.

It was also discovered that leadership was responsible for forging good relationships with the community. And where this kind of relationship existed, the performance of the school was good. For example one of the teachers in this study pointed out

The relationship with the school and the community is amicable. We involve all the parents in school activities and we relate very well with the community. On our program this term, we shall be welcoming the new Parish Priest. The purpose of this is to give allegiance and reciprocate the Church for its good work in the school. Similarly the students revealed

Normally we have academic weeks, and on such days our parents come and sit and attend with us lessons in the classrooms. After the lessons they reflect and discuss with the teachers and us on how the lessons has been. They also discuss the performance of their daughters. In addition, they are free to make any input in the teaching and learning process in the school. From the voices of the teachers, it is perhaps important to conclude, that this kind of stakeholder involvement and community participation in the school is a sign of collaborative leadership. Such collaborative and participative kind of arrangement by all the stakeholders may only be achieved if there is good leadership that can develop and articulate the vision and envision all the stakeholders in the school. It was also discovered from this study that where there was collaboration and participation by all staff at the school level, there was a likelihood of having an improved overall school performance. It was discovered that schools that used dispersed or distributed leadership were associated with overall school improvement. Another feature of participative leadership in this study was discovered in the planning process. It was discovered that in schools where the planning process was collaborative, there was ownership and

sustainability of plans. This eventually had an effect on the overall school performance. So in this study, it was discovered that good leadership is associated with the school performance

LAISSEZ-FAIRE LEADERSHIP STYLE AND SCHOOL PERFORMANCE The correlation coefficient indicated that there is a very negative correlation between the laissezfaire leadership style and the school performance in secondary schools. This study established that head teachers who use the laissez faire leadership style tend to fail to follow up on those they have delegated tasks to and consequently performance declines. They leave everything to the mercy of their subordinates, some of whom may lack the necessary skills and competence to execute the work. Others may simply not like to do the work unless they are supervised. Laissezfaire leadership is not the best leadership style to use in the schools organization because complete delegation without follow-up mechanisms may create performance problems, which are likely to affect the schools effectiveness. This is in agreement with MacDonalds (2007) study of laissez-faire leadership shows that it is associated with the highest rates of truancy and delinquency and with the slowest modifications in performance which lead to unproductive attitudes and disempowerment of subordinates.

SITUATIONAL LEADERSHIP STYLE AND SCHOOL PERFORMANCE From the study, it was discovered that one of the most frequently used approaches to leadership was the situational leadership. School managers have, through experience, come to terms with the fact that the adoption of a particularly relevant style in a specific situation leads to school effectiveness, rather than relying on a single style of ones choice (Mullins, 2002. The participants revealed that leadership is dictated by environmental changes within and outside the school. At one time, students may be so unruly and militant that it requires the head of schools to used strict measures of discipline so as to improve their academic performance. However, in another development students may be so committed and focused that it may require being liberal minded to allow participative leadership to prevail. Of course, this depends on the changes in the situation of the school. This is also corroborated by Cheng (2002) who asserts that the relationship between school performance and leadership style is moderated by the situational factors.


Head teachers professional development Even after receiving adequate training, teachers remain lifelong learners. Due to the ever dynamic and changing nature of the professional demands, and the development of professional practices, training is a continuous process which lasts for the duration of the career of a committed professional teacher. Similarly, head teachers must also have continuous professional development. Head teachers are in charge of schools, which operate as professional learning communities. In support of this, Fullan (in Bass, 2007) alludes that the illiterates of the 21st century are not those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn and unlearn. Teaching is a lifelong learning profession and therefore head teachers should be at the forefront of learning. Research indicates that an organizations ability to improve and sustain improvement largely depends upon its ability to foster and nurture learning communities (Hargreaves, 2002; Muijis & Harris, 2007). It is therefore recommended that a Continuous Professionals Development (CPD) system for head teachers be established and institutionalized in the education system.

Education leadership training institute The study has also established that there is a need for the country to build a constant supply of the needed manpower including leaders for the schools. Responses from both the teachers and head

teachers indicate that none of the schools had as part of their plans staff development and succession plans. Apart from addressing the supply and availability of the pool of resources for the head teachers and deputy head teachers, the issue of the quality of leadership is equally important and has to be addressed. From the responses of head teachers and teachers, it also emerged that there is no relationship between the number of years one served as a teacher and as a head teacher and performance. In view of that observation, the study recommends a policy shift. The number of years one has been in the service as a teacher or as a head teacher, should not be used as selection criteria for the appointment of head teachers and deputy head teachers to the disadvantage of those younger but brilliant teachers with fewer years of service. Use of aptitude tests and other academic achievements can be used to identify the talented young professionals with the potential of being very good and effective leaders.

Mentoring of school head teachers

In a bid to improve the performance of head teachers, a mentoring program is strongly recommended for newly appointed and underperforming serving head teachers. Anderson and Shannon (inTshali, 2000:14) defined mentoring as follows:

A nurturing process in which a more skilled and more experienced person serving as a role model, teaches, sponsors, encourages, counsels and befriends a less experienced for the purposes of promoting the latters professional and personal development

Curriculum for teacher training The study recommends a review of the curriculum for the training of teachers so that sufficient attention is given to management and leadership skills. The need to review the training curriculum is precipitated by the existing gap between theory and practice. Through practice and observation of schools the researcher established that some head teachers who made efforts to accumulate qualifications and certificates, had no significant improvement registered at the schools they were heading. This implies that either the knowledge acquired was not relevant to the situation on the ground or there was a failure to translate the theoretical knowledge into practice. All the teachers are potential leaders - future head teachers. Ministries of Education and the universities in liaison with the teacher training colleges should undertake the review of the said curriculas.

The role of the universities and teacher training colleges It was observed that universities which train teachers and head teachers, for that matter are detached from the schools which is the point for delivery of the services by the products from the universities and training colleges. The training institutions cannot abrogate their responsibilities when their products are found wanting and cannot deliver quality work. For as Kajubi (1992) puts it the quality of the education system cannot be better than the quality of its teachers. It is therefore recommended that universities and other teacher training institutions maintain a regular presence in the classrooms. An arrangement similar to what they do during school practice teaching.


The importance of policy formulation and planning in the life of an institution cannot be over-emphasized. This study established that a key variable in school performances is a visionary leader. A visionary leader is responsible for defining a clear vision to provide direction to the future of the school. As Naluwemba (2007) asserts, this vision would reflect their own personal understandings and perceptions of both the current situation and the future. However, as

quoted by Naluwemba (2007), one critical element in this strategic visioning is the leaders ability to assess the schools environment and take into account its major stakeholders (Greenfield, 1995; Huffman & Jacobson, 2003; Vera, 2004).

It is therefore strongly recommended that every school undertake a strategic visioning process whereby the leaders and the stakeholders create a vision for the school. It is through a shared vision and mission that the head teachers will be able to offer a sense of direction to his/her staff. All the staff should be able to have a shared understanding on where the school should be in the next few years. With a succinct vision and mission, the school can and should then develop a strategic plan. The plan should be broadly shared and understood by all the stakeholders. If this is accomplished, it will help the school to deliver quality education and hence improve school performance. However, the process must be participatory to enable all stakeholders to buy into it. A well thought out strategic planning process, which is broad based and consultative would foster teamwork and collaboration in the school. It will also enhance shared leadership. It is therefore recommended that the process of developing a schools vision and mission and later on the strategic plan be a very consultative process, and involve all stakeholders including the parents and other critical friends of the school.

LEADERSHIP STYLE AND SCHOOL PERFORMANCE The study established that there is a strong positive relationship between the leadership style of head teachers in secondary schools and school performance, but that the contribution of the leadership style towards the overall school performance is low. However, from the study and also through the literature reviewed, it is clear that leadership is a very important component and a critical ingredient in the process of improving the schools performance This study therefore submits that for leadership to remain important and useful towards the promotion of quality education, it MUST be distributed appropriately among the different levels of

administration in the school; to the school top management teams (distributed leadership) and also decentralized among the teachers, which is known as teacher leadership. Teachers have leadership capabilities waiting to be unlocked and engaged for the good of the schools. Sillins, Mulford and Harris (2002) conclude that students outcomes are more likely to improve where leadership sources are distributed throughout the school and where teachers are empowered in areas of importance to them. By distributing powers, head teachers do not become weak; they instead become stronger as the institutions they head excel in performance.

AUTOCRATIC LEADERSHIP STYLE OF HEAD TEACHERS AND SCHOOL PERFORMANCE From the studys findings, the autocratic leadership style of the schools head teachers has a negative effect on school performance in secondary schools in Uganda . It is therefore

recommended that school head teachers avoid the use of the autocratic leadership styles in the management of schools.


This study has established that there is a very low correlation between the laissez-faire leadership style in secondary schools and school performance in secondary schools in Uganda. It is therefore recommended that school managers, avoid the laissez-faire leadership style which permits total delegation of responsibility to teachers and students.

DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP STYLE AND SCHOOL PERFORMANCE This study established that school performance in secondary schools in Uganda is positively related to the democratic leadership style employed by school head teachers and that the democratic leadership style is the most used style in schools. The study has also documented the gains and contributions accruing from the use of the democratic leadership style by head teachers.

The democratic leadership style encourages everybody to participate in the affairs of the school as a whole. The staff feels they are part of the school, and hence they are part of the leadership of the school. This study also established that there is a strong relationship between democratic leadership style of head teachers and teacher leadership Most schools would improve their performance by becoming more collaborative and more democratic. This study therefore submits that the head teachers of secondary schools in particular be encouraged to use this style of leadership in the management of secondary schools.

CONCLUSION This study sought to analyze the leadership styles of head teachers and school performance of secondary schools in Uganda. The researcher recognized from literature and experiences from observations of leadership in schools that there are many leadership styles employed by school head teachers. However, for the purposes of this study, the researcher examined the relationship between leadership styles in general and school performance, and analyzed four leadership styles and school performance. The study established that there was a relationship between the age of the head teachers and their leadership style. It was also noted that the young teachers, because of over ambition, tended to be more aggressive which led to the head teachers adopting a more autocratic leadership style. Another interesting finding from the study was in respect of head teachers training. It was established that the nature of head teachers training contributed to either poor or good leadership and hence school performance. That the head teachers were well trained as teachers did not automatically make them good school leaders. That type of training did not prepare them for leadership roles. While noting the many challenges and demands on the head teachers job, the study underscored the need for management and leadership skills on the part of the head teachers.

The study established that unless head teachers are well equipped with knowledge and skills in management and leadership, they would not be able to improve school performance significantly.

A majority of the head teachers interviewed indicated that they had neither attended any induction management training course upon being appointed as head teachers, nor undertaken any training during their tenure of service as head teachers The study established that effective school performance requires visionary leadership among other things, and that there is a strong relationship between visionary leadership and transformational leadership. The study established that most head teachers did not involve key stakeholders like teachers in formulating school vision, mission and strategic plans, and subsequently there was no ownership and shared understanding of the developed missions and plans. The failure by the stakeholders such as the teachers to buy into the plans means poor implementation of the school programs and hence poor performance. In successful schools, the school community shares values and goals and work as a team. Teamwork can enhance quality management in schools as teams can utilize resources more efficiently and effectively, increase organizational effectiveness, improve the quality of educational programs and create better learning and working environments. Thus, successful teamwork is considered an indispensable ingredient in the process of building successful schools (Steyn & Niekerk, 2002:113). This study has also established that leadership that is instrumental towards school improvement is distributed leadership. Where leadership is shared, teamwork is valued and usually organizations in which teamwork flourishes are more effective than organizations dominated by a single individual. The traditional approach that only top managers had the competence to make decisions and staff had to carry out the decisions, is now outdated. From the studys findings, the autocratic leadership style of school head teachers was found to have a negative effect on school performance in secondary schools in Uganda. It was accordingly recommended that school head teachers avoid the use of the autocratic leadership styles in the management of schools. Most recent conceptions of educational leadership indicate that there is a move away from autocratic leadership styles to a more democratic mode of

decision making in schools. This is in a bid to ensure that decision-making takes place at the lowest possible level. This study has established that school performance and in particular students academic excellence in secondary schools in Uganda is positively related to the democratic leadership style employed by school head teachers and that the democratic leadership style is the most used style in secondary schools. It was therefore recommended that the head teachers of secondary schools in particular be encouraged to use this style of leadership in the management of secondary schools. The ongoing educational reforms require educational leaders who can work in democratic and participative ways in order to build successful relationships to ensure effective delivery of quality education. It is thus apparent from this study that there is a significant relationship between leadership styles and school performance and that if schools hope to operate as successful entities; the leadership will have to adopt approaches that take cognizance of the diverse needs of all stakeholders that it purports to serve.

Achua, R. 2001. This complex thing, leadership, in police leadership in the twenty-first century. Winchester: Waterside Press: 204-222. Adair, J. 1983. Guildford:

Developing tomorrows leaders: A university contribution.

University of Surrey. Adlam, R. 2003. This complex thing, leadership, in police leadership in the twenty-first century. Winchester: Waterside Press. Aikman, S & Unterhalter, E. 2005. Beyond access: Transforming policy and practice for gender equality in education. London: Oxford. Ajuoga, M.A. 2000. Impact of instructional materials on the academic performance of selected schools in Kisumu District in Kenya. An unpublished Masters Dissertation, Makerere University: Kampala. Amason, A.C. & Sapienza, H.J.C. 1997. The effects of top management size team size and interaction norms on cognitive and affective conflict. Journal of Management, 23(4):495-516. Amburgey, T.L. & Rao, H. 1996. Organizational ecology: Past, present, and future directions. Academy of Management Journal, 39(5):1265-1286. Available online at Accessed on 01/08/08. Amin, M. 2005. Social science research, conception, methodology and analysis. Kampala, Makerere University Prente. Anderson, T.D., Ford, R. & Hamilton, M. 1998. Transforming leadership: Equipping yourself and coaching others to build leadership organization. 6th edition. London: St Lucie Press. Anderson, R. & Dexter, S. 2005. School technology leadership: An empirical investigation of prevalence and effect. Education Administration Quarterly, 1:49-82. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Armstrong, M. 2004. Human resource management theory and practice. London: Bath Press Ltd. Attwood, T. 2001.

Teacher motivation: The low-cost high gain approach to school

improvement. London: First & Best in Education. Ball, S.J. 1987. Politics and policy making in education: Explorations in policy sociology. London: Routledge and Icegan Paul. Balunywa, W.S. 2000. A hand book of business management. Kampala: Ugandan Press. Bass, B.M. 1990. Transformational leadership. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Bass, B.M. 1985. Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: Free Press. Bass, B.M. 1998. Transformational leadership: Industrial, military, and educational impact. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. Behaviour: Utilizing Human Resources. 7th edition. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc. Bensimon, E.M., Neumann, A. & Birnbaum, R. 2000. Higher education and leadership theory In: M. Christopher Brown. Organization governance in higher education. (5th edition). (pp.241-231). Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing. Benton, D.A. 1995. Applied human relations: An organizational approach. 6th edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Black, P. 1994.

Performance assessment and accountability: The experience in England.

Education evaluation and policy analysis..

Blake, R. & Mouton, J. 1985. The managerial grid III. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing. Blanchard, KH and Sargent, AG (1984), Brown,M and Rutherford,D .1998.Chaninging roles and raising standards: New challenges for heads of department, school leadership and management Blake, R.R. & McCanse, A.A. 1991. Leadership dilemmas-grid solutions. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Company. Blake, P., Smeyers, R. Smith & Standish, P. (Eds). The Blackwell guide to the philosophy pf education. Oxford: Blackwell. Blanchard, K.H., Zigarmi, D. & Nelal, B.R. 1987. Situational leadership: Different strokes for different folks. Principal, March 12-16. Blanchard, K., Zigarmy, D. & Zigarmy, P. 1987. Situational Leadership: different strokes for different folks. Principal, March: 12-16. Blease, D and Bryman, A 1986 Research in schools and the case for methodological integration Quality and Quantity, vol. 20, pp. 157-68 Blease.B. & Bryman.A (1986) Research in schools and the case for methodological integration .Department of education, loughborugh University .UK. Borg, M. D,. Gall, W. R & Borg, J. P (1983). Education research. White plains. New York. Longman. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. (pg 83,pg 85) Botha, R.J. (2005). Excellence in leadership: demands on the professional school principal, College of Human sciences, School of education, University of South Africa, S.A Journal of Education. Brown, A & Dowling, P. C (1998). Doing Research and Reading Research: A model of Interrogation for Education. London. The Palmer press. 29

Brumbach, G.B. (1988). Some issues, ideas and predictions about performance management, Public personnel management, Winter Press. Burns, J. 1978. Leadership. New York, NY: Harper & Row Publishers. Kellerman, B. Ed. 1984. Leadership Carter, R. G., Madison, B. A,. Hall, D. E &Lockamy, B. T. (1990). A case of equity and quality: How one team is making it happen Norfolk, Virginia. In Barbara, O. T (Eds). Case studies in effective schools research. Pp (40-70) Chandan, S.(2004). Management Theory and Practice. (New Delhi, Vicas Publishing House PVT Ltd). Cheng, C. & Chan, M. T. 2000. Implementation of School-Based Management: A Multi-Cheung Wong & Evers C. W. London: Routledge Falmer.

Cheng, Y. C. (1996) School Effectiveness and School-Based Management: A mechanism for Development, London: Falmer Press.

Cheng, Y. C. and Townsend, T (2000) Educational change and development in the Asia-Pacific region: trends and issues, in T. Townsend and Y. C. Cheng (eds) Educational Change and Development in the Asia- Pacific Region: Challenges for the future, Rotterdam: Swets and Zeitlinger.

Cheng.Y.C 2002, Leadership and strategy. The Principles and practice of Educational Management. Edited by Tonny Bush and Les Bell.Paul Chapman publishing, London. Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. 2001. Research Methods in Education. 5th edition. London and New York: Routledgefalmer. Cole, G.A. (2002). The administrative theory and workers motivation, Zante institute of administration Press LtD, ABU Zaria, Nigeria

Crossley, M & Vulliamy.G. (eds) 1997 Education qualities research in developing countries: current perspective:NY Garland Press. Cunningham, W. G. & Cordeiro. 2000. Educational Administration: A Problem-Based Dsouza, A. (1994). Leadership: Triology on leadership and Effective Management. Nairobi. Paulines Publication Africa.

Daft, R. L. (2002). The leadership experience; Harcourt: Harcourt College Publishers.

Daresh, J. C. 2002. What it means to be a Principal: your guide to leadership. California: Corwin Press Inc. David T. Gamage 2007.Building trust among educational stakeholders through Participatory School Administration, Leadership and Management. Management in Education, Vol. 21, No. 1, 15-22 (2007) DOI: 10.1177/0892020607073406 Davies,B.and Ellison, L. (Eds).1997.School Leadership for the 21st Century: A Competency and Knowledge approach.London Davies, B (2006).Developing a model of strategic leadership in schools: Journal of Education Management Administration and Leadership Vol.34 (1) 121-139 Ddungu, L (2004). Patterns of Leadership and performance of secondary schools in Uganda. A PHD Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment for the award of Doctor of philosophy in Education, Makerere University: Kampala. DeCenzo, A. D and Robbins, P. S (1998). Personnell and Human resource management. New Delphi: Mohan Makhijan.

Dubrin, A. J. 1998. Leadership: Research, Findings, Practice and Skills. 2nd edition. DuFour, R. & Eaker, R. 1998. Professional Learning Communities at Work: Best practices for Enhancing Student Achievement.Iniana: National Education Service Dunklee, D. R. 2000. If You Want to Lead, Not Just Manage: A Primer for Principals. California: Corwin Press Inc. Evans .R.2000.The Pedagogic Principal. Edmonton: Qual Institute Press. Ezenne, A.2003 Models of leadership behavior for education organization. Fertig, M. (2000). Old Wine in new bottles: Researching effective schools in developing countries. Journal of school effectiveness and school improvement. Vol. 11 (3). Pp385403. Fiedler, F. E. 1967. A Theory of Leadership Effectiveness. New York: McGraw-Hill. Fiedler, F.E.1971.Leadership.New York: General Learning Press. Frank-fort-Nachmias, C and Nachmias 1996.Research Methods in the Social Sciences, London; Arnold. Firestone, W.A.1989 Education policy as an ecology of gavies: Educational researcher. First Century. Winchester: Waterside Press: 204-222. Frost, D & Harris, A (2003). Teacher leadership. Towards a research agenda: Cambridge Journal of Education. Fullam, G. M (2001). Leading in a culture of change. New Jersey: Jossey Bass.

Gall, M.D 1989 Educational Research: An Introduction, New York: Longman. Gary Yuke (2001). Raising expectations to improve student learning and schools leadership, National College for School Leadership, New York. Gay.L.R & Airasian, P.2000.Education Research: Competencies for Analysis and application.6th edition. New Jersey: merril Genck, H. F. C. (1983). Improving school effectiveness: How New School Management Techniques Can Raise Learning, Confidence and Morale. New, York: Prawger Publisher. Gewiftz 2002, S and Ball,S. 2000 from Welfarism to New Managerialism: shifting discourses of school header ship in the education market place. Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education. Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. & Mckee, A. 2002. The New Leaders. London: Little Brown. Grant .C. 2006 .Emerging voices on teacher leadership: Some South African views. Education Management Administration. Greenfield, W. J. (1995). Towards a theory of school administration: The centrality of leadership. Educational Administration Quarterly, 31(1), 61-85. Gronn, P. 2003. The New Educational Leaders: Changing Leadership Practice in an Era of School Reform. London: Paul Chapman Publishing. Hall, G. & George, A. (1999). The impact of principal change facilitator style on school and classroom culture. In H. Freiberg (Ed.), School climate: Measuring, improving and sustaining healthy learning environments. Philadelphia, PA: Falmer Press. Hall,V.Mackay,H & Morgan,C .1986.Head Teachers at Work. England: Open University

Halpin, A. W. 1966. Theory and Research in Administration. New York: Macmillan. Harris, A and Benett, N. (2001) in Alma. H and Nigel. B. School effectiveness and school. Alternative perspectives. Pages 1-4. London;Continuum Harris, A. 2002. School Improvement: Whats in it for Schools? London: Routledge Falmer. Harris, S. L. & Lowery, S. 2002. A View from the Classroom. Educational leadership, 59(8): 64-65. Hersey, P. & Blanchard. K. H. 1977. Management of Organizational Behaviour: Utilizing Human Resources. 3rd edition. USA: Prentice Hall INC. Hersey, P., Blanchard, K. H. & Johnson, D. E. 1996. Management of Organizational Hornby, G. 2000. Improving Parental Involvement. New York: Casell. Hoy, W.K & Miskel, C.G. (1991). Educational Administration: Theory, Research and Practice, New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc. Huffman, J.B., & Jacobson, A. (2003) Perception of professional learning communities International Journal of Leadership in Education, 6(3), 239-250. Hufman & Jacbson (2003). Perceptions of professional learning Communities. International journal of leadership in education, 6 (3) pp, 238-250. Jagues,E & Clement, S.D (1991) Executive Leadership Virginia: Caso Hall James, C and Cannolly, U. (2000). Effective Change in Schools. New York: Routledge Falmer.

Kajubi, S. W (1992). The Uganda White Paper on Education. Entebbe. Uganda government printerly. Kasule,R (2007).Effects of leadership styles on teacher productivity in private secondary schools in Wakiso district,M.Ed dissertation, Kampala Kyeyune, R. 2008, Strategy for school leadership development in Africa; Learning from collaborative ezperience and research. A paper presented at the 5th ACP Conference, Kampala, Uganda Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2002). Leadership Challenge. (3rd ed.). Jossey-Bass San Fracisco: Kouznes, J.M. and Posner, B.Z. (2001). Bringing leadership lessons from the past into the future, in Bennis, W; Spreitzer, G.M and Cummings, T.G. (Eds). The future of leadership, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

Law, S & Glover, D. (2000). Educational Leadership and Learning: Practice, Policy, and Research. Open University Press; Buckingham. Lawerence .L.S & Davis, J.1997 The art and science of portraiture.San Franciso:Jossey Bass Leithwood, K. & Jantzi, D. 1990. Transformational Leadership: How Principal can Help Leithwood, K., Jantzi, D., & Steinbach, R. (1998). Changing leadership for changing times. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Levin, M. H & Loackhead, E. M (1993). Effective schools in developing countries. London. Falmer Press. Lewin, K & Caillords, f (2001). Financing secondary Education in Development: Strategic for sustainable growth. Paris. International institute for education planning. UNESCO. Linda, E. C 1991.Managing to motivate: a guide for school leaders. Cassell London Linda.L.1999.Shifting conceptions of leadership: towards a redefinition of leadership for the twenty-first century. Lussier, R. N. & Achua, C. F. 2001. Leadership: Theory, Application and Skill Development. USA: South- West College Publishing. Lipman & Blumen.J.1964.The connecting edge: Leading in an independent world. San Francisco,CA:Jossey-Bass. Luyten, H,. Visscher, A and Witziers, B. (2004). School effectiveness: From a review of the critism to recommendations for further developmnt. Journal of school effectives and School improvement. Vol 16 (3). Pp 249-279. MacDonald, N (2007). Educational Management. MacDonalds Institute of Archeological research. Maicibi, N. A. (2003). Pertinent Issues in Employees Management. M.P.K. Graphics (U) Ltd, Kampala. Mazzarella, J. A. & Smith, S. C. 1989. Leadership Styles in School Leadership: Handbook for Excellence, edited by Stuart C., Smith & Philip. Piele. USA: ERIC Clearing House on Education Management: 28-51.

McGregor, D. (1960). Human side of the enterprise, New York. Morgan, C. et al (1999). Total quality Management in the public sector. Backingham. Philadelphia: Open University press. Mpeirwe, J (2007) management of instructional materials and performance of teachers in primary schools in Kampala. A dissertation submitted in Partial fulfillment for the Masters Degree in Education, Makerere: Kampala. Mujis.D and Harris .A. 2003.Teacher leadership: Improvement through empowerment. An overview of research: Education management administration and leadership.

Mullins, J. L (2005). Essentials of organization behaviour. London: Pearson. Mullins, J. (2002. Management and Organizational behavior, (6th Ed), Lombarda Rotolito, Italy. Mullins, J.L. (1996). Management and Organizational Behavour. 4th Edition Great Britain: Pitman Publishing,. Mumbe, O. G (1995). Leadership and Teacher job satisfaction of primary schools in Busia sub district of Uganda: A dissertation submitted for the award of Masters of Education. Makerere University: Kampala. Musaazi, J.C.S. (1986). Planning and Development in Education: African perspectives, Allen and Urwin Publishers LtD, London, United Kingdom

Muyingo, J.C. (2004). Changing patterns of university financing in universities in Uganda and their implications for management of University education, unpublished PhD thesis, Makerere University, Kampala. Naluwemba, F. 2007.The role of the perceptions of female administrators regarding the gender regimes in urban co-educational secondary schools in Uganda. A Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Education Unniversity of Brigham Young, for award of Doctor of Philosophy. Namirembe, G. (2005). Status of education for rural people in Uganda Paper presented at the ministerial seminar on education for rural people in Africa., Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Nconco.F. 2006. A comparative study of leadership and management approaches in further education and training colleges. A dissertation submitted in fulfillment for requirement for the degree of doctor of education.Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Nias, J.1989 Primary Teachers Talking-A study of Teaching as work, London: Routledge. Nias,J (1981) .Teacher satisfaction and dissatisfaction: Herzbergs two factor hypothesis revisited. British journal of sociology of education,2:233-246. Nkata, J.L (1996). Parent participation in school management in primary schools in Mpigi district, unpublished PhD thesis, Makerere University, Kampala Nkata, J.L (2005). Emerging issues in Education management in developing countries in the 21st century, Masah Publishers Ltd, Kampala Nkata, J.L. (2006). A road map to participation in management of schools, Masah Publishers LtD, Kampala

Nsubuga, Y. K. K. 2008, Developing Teacher Leadership; A paper presented at the 5th ACP Conference, Kampala, Uganda Nsubuga, Y.K.K.2003, Development and examination of secondary in Uganda: Experience and challenges Kampala; Uganda. Odeat 2000. A similar paper presented at school of education Makerere University on International migration, remittances, and the brain: implementing educational policies in Uganda.. Odubuker, P. E (2007). Head teachers Training Programme and their competences in the management of the primary schools in the North Western district of Uganda. A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment for the award of Doctor of Philosophy in Education Administration, Planning and Management, Makerere University: Kampala. Ogwenge, J. J (1995). Leadership styles and Job satisfaction. A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment for the Masters of Arts in Education. Makerere University: Kampala. Okumbe, J. A. 1998. Educational Management: Theory and Practice. Nairobi: Nairobi University Press. Owens, R. G. 1991. Organisational Behaviour in Education. 4th edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Owens.R.G 1998.Organisational Behaviour in Education.6th Edition.Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Oyetunyi.C.O. 2006. The relationship between leadership style and school climate .Botswana Secondary schools. Unversity of South Africa perspective Analysis of the Case of Hog Kong. International Review of Education,

Pieters, H. H. 2008. Policies and Practice in Developing and improving school leadership; A paper presented at the 5th ACP Conference, Kampala, Uganda. Practices for Enhancing Student Achievement. Indiana: National Educational Service. Punch, K. F. 1998. Introduction to social research, Buckingham: Open University Press Quinn, D. M. 2002. The Impact of Principal Leadership Behaviours on Instructional Practice and Student Engagement. Journal of Educational Administration, 40(5): 447467. Reeves, J, Christine.F,.Brien, J,. Smith, P and Tomlison, H. C. (2002). Performance management in education: Improving Practice. Paul Chapman. London.

Reform School Cultures. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 1(4): 249

Retallick, J & Farah, I (2005). Transforming schools in Pakistan: Towards the Learning Community. Saleemi, P. (1997). Personnel management simplified, Saleemi Publishers, Nairobi. Sashkin, M. & Sashkin, M. 2003. Leadership That Matters. San Francisco: Berrettkoehler Publishers Inc. Sergiovan, T. J. (2000). The life of leadership: Creating culture, community and personal meaning in our schools. San Francisco: Jossy-Bass.

Sergiovanni, T. J. (1998). Leadership as pedagogy, capital development and school effectiveness. International Journal of leadership in Educational development. Vol, 1 (1), pp37-46 Siedman .I. E .1991.Data collection: Questionnaires and interviews. Research methods, etc. (pp. 236278).Interviewing as qualitative research. Ssenga .2004.Job satisfaction of University academic: Perspective from Uganda. Dissertation submitted to the University of British in the accordance with the requirement of degree of Education in the faculty of social sciences Graduate School of Education. Steyn, G. M. and Niekerk, E. J. V. 2002, Human resource management in education. University of South Africa, UNISA Press. Steyn, G.M. (2002). The changing principal ship in South African schools, Educare, Vol. 31, PP 251-274 Stoner, A.F. (2002). Management, (6th Ed), Prentice Hall, India Tannenbaum, R. & Schmidt, W. H. 1973. How to Choose a Leadership Pattern. Harvard Business Review, May/June: 162-181. Valenzuela .A. (1999) the Social Context of Education. Tel: 800-666-2211. Publication Date: 1999-00-00. Pages: 346. Vera, V. D. (2004). Strategic leadership and organizational learning. Academy of Management Review, 29(2), 222-240. Vroom, V. H. & Jago, A. G. 1988. The New Leadership Managing: Participation in Organization. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

World Bank 1995: Priorities and strategies for Education World Bank: Washington DC.

Ward,W.E & Wilcox,B.M 1999.Delegation and empowerment: leading with and through others.New york : Eye on Education Inc.

Waters, J. T., Marzona, R. J. & McNulty, B. 2004. Leadership that Sparks Learning.

Wing, Y. J (2003). The color line in student achievement: How small learning communities make a difference? In Elena, M. S (Ed.). Critical voices in school reform. Pp 153-170. Routlegde Falmer: London. Zapeda, J. S (2003). International Leadership For school improvement. New York. Eye on Education.

You might also like

BR Proposal Template


  1. 👍 Examples of leadership theories. (PDF) Leadership Theories and Styles

    literature review on leadership skills

  2. The Leadership Skills Handbook : Jo Owen (author) : 9781789666687

    literature review on leadership skills

  3. Extended Essay in English Literature

    literature review on leadership skills

  4. (PDF) Literature Review on Instructional Leadership Practice among

    literature review on leadership skills

  5. (PDF) Book review of Leadership: A Critical Text

    literature review on leadership skills


    literature review on leadership skills


  1. Master of Educational Leadership

  2. Master of Educational Leadership

  3. 10 Lines on Leadership in English || Essay Writing


  5. Writing a LITERATURE REVIEW in Research? Follow These 3 STEPS to do it RIGHT!

  6. The seed thought for “Sage Advice”


  1. Leadership: A Comprehensive Review of Literature, Research and Theoretical Framework

    This paper provides a comprehensive literature review on the research and theoretical framework of leadership. The author illuminates the historical foundation of leadership theories and...

  2. Six ways of understanding leadership development: An exploration of

    Analysis using a phenomenographic approach revealed six categories and different ways of understanding leadership development: (1) one's own development, (2) fulfilling a leadership role, (3) personal development, (4) leader and organizational development, (5) collective leadership development, and (6) human development.

  3. A Systematic Review of Literature about Leadership and Organization

    A Systematic Review of Literature about Leadership and Organization Gagan Deep Sharma , Richa Aryan , Sanjeet Singh and Tavleen Kaur ABSTRACT Background and Objective: Leadership research has come a long way from trait theory, through human relations school of thought, to contingency and/or situational model.

  4. 25936 PDFs

    Explore the latest full-text research PDFs, articles, conference papers, preprints and more on LEADERSHIP SKILLS. Find methods information, sources, references or conduct a literature review on ...

  5. Leadership styles and sustainable performance: A systematic literature

    This study focuses on leadership styles which are defined as a leader's characteristic behaviors or behavioral patterns when directing, guiding and motivating groups of people, influencing - in turn - followers' behaviors, an answer to a question "how do leaders lead?" ( Aboramadan and Dahleez, 2020; Armstrong, 2012 ).

  6. (PDF) Traits of Effective Leaders: A Literature Review

    Traits of Effective Leaders: A Literature Review October 2020 Authors: Christopher Ardueser AGDA Consulting Kruti Lehenbauer Utilizing research to identify an effective leader is essential for...

  7. Leadership Theories and Styles: A Literature Review

    ... There is often a distinguishing trait shared by persons in positions of leadership, despite the fact that the strategies that leaders employ could shift. The authors of this study (Khan,...

  8. Literature Review (Chapter 2)

    > Literature Review This chapter is part of a book that is no longer available to purchase from Cambridge Core 2 - Literature Review from Part 1 - Research Study: Management and Leadership Skills That Affect Small Business Survival Jamey M. Long Chapter Get access Share Cite Summary

  9. A Literature Review on Effective Leadership Qualities for the NLC by Dr

    1. Our approach to this literature review The NLC identified five qualities of leadership based on a preliminary review of the leadership literature: 'adaptive', 'connected',...

  10. The Future of Leadership: What the Literature Says

    The pandemic changed the way we work, and it also accelerated the way leadership is changing. We reviewed existing literature and identified that the future of leadership sees soft skills as much more important. On top of this, leaders also need to learn how to work with a team of increasingly diversified members. Read the findings and insights from our lit review to learn more.

  11. Essential Leadership Qualities: a brief literature review

    Literature review has shed a light upon essential qualities for individuals holding leadership positions in organisations. Having a clear vision and the ability of articulating it in an efficient manner appears as one of the most important leadership skills in the majority of sources addressed during the preliminary literature review.

  12. A literature review of school leadership policy reforms

    The review reports on several issues. School leadership is important for schools and learning. The review has identified different perspectives on school leadership policy and how school leadership reform is clearly related to the context of practice. Changes in school leadership practices have been discussed in relationship to broader policy ...

  13. Characteristics and Skills of Leadership in the Context of Industry 4.0

    It was based mainly on a literature review about leadership and Industry 4.0. This work results in 10 leadership characteristics found for industry 4.0 and their relationship with 4 leadership skills groups: cognitive skills, interpersonal skills, business skills, and strategic skills. The organizations might consider these skills as ...

  14. Analysis of Leader Effectiveness in Organization and Knowledge Sharing

    Abstract The aim of this study is to analyze the relationships between leadership effectiveness, knowledge sharing behavior, business performance, firm strategy, and firm performance.

  15. PDF Literature Review on Leadership Theories

    Abstract: The leadership research in the last two decades evolved mainly under the following philosophies : trait school, focused on leaders' dispositions ; behavioral school, concerned with leaders' behaviors ; contingency school, focused on leadership contingencies; relational school, considered leader-follower relations; sceptics school, ques...

  16. PDF 2. format. man

    The Literature review examines the theoretical, empirical and meta-analysis development in leadership literature. Substantial effort has gone in to clarify different dimensions of leadership, by generating considerable attention on the organizational and social research of leadership theories, styles, and behaviors.

  17. Leadership Development Method: A literature review of leadership

    Leadership Development Method: A literature review of leadership development strategy and tactics ABSTRACT This article is intended to provide young and new coaches with a comprehensive overview of existing research of a leadership development method for improving their leadership skills regardless of field.

  18. Leadership in Literature

    Literature suggests that leaders should learn more about themselves if they want to succeed. A version of this article appeared in the March 2006 issue of Harvard Business Review. DC. Diane Coutu ...

  19. Review of Literature on Leadership- An Excerpt from the New Book, "The

    The reflections provide a brief review of the general literature on leadership, with an emphasis on women's leadership and studies of leadership of women of color, as a context within which to situate the Ohtli women's stories and insights. Definitions of leadership can be placed on a continuum from hierarchical to transformational. At the ...

  20. Leadership Styles and Job Performance: a Literature Review

    1 Mohammed Al-Malki, 2 Wang Juan. 1 2 School of Economics, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China Abstract: The present research is a literature review of the leadership styles and its effectiveness within the organization team-building.Specifically, this paper tries to review the literature in the sphere of job performance focusing on the leadership styles.

  21. Literature Review On Leadership

    Save Save Literature Review on Leadership For Later. 100% (4) 100% found this document useful (4 votes) 2K views 42 pages. ... a review of the curriculum for the training of teachers so that sufficient attention is given to management and leadership skills. The need to review the training curriculum is precipitated by the existing gap between ...

  22. Being an Effective Leader: Literature Review

    Now, here are some methods to make tasks easier and how to be an effective leader such as positive attitude, self-assessment and be fully prepared. Bee Kai Ying, 1507526. First: An effective leader must have positive attitude. Firstly, positive attitude is important for a leader. A great leader is able to control their emotion well.

  23. Literature Review On Leadership Styles

    Literature Review On Leadership Styles. The leadership style is a contextual function which has direct relationship with the leadership approach of the leader. Based on the functionality assumption the leadership style can be identified as two dimensional ways independent of each other, where one of it is task oriented associated with ...