Multiple Sources of Leadership and Employee Reactions in a State Parks and Recreation Department
Keywords:Transformational Leadership, Leader Member Exchange, Middle Managers, Commitment, Citizenship, Empowerment
AbstractFor several decades, researchers focusing on the administration of organizations have been drawn to leadership as a key component for explaining the attitudes and behaviors of employees. While much of this attention has focused at high levels of administrative structures, it is understood that organizations are social systems that come with the expectation that interactions among members in the pursuit of organizational goals will also influence these attitudes and behaviors. The present study investigated perceptions of leadership at both executive and middle management positions in an effort to determine what, if any, differential impact on employee attitudes and behavior were present.Twenty-nine middle managers and 265 third-tier employees of a State Department of Parks and Recreation participated in this study. While the middle managers responded to nine items of the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) measuring three dimensions of transformational leadership (charisma, individualized consideration, and intellectual stimulation) of the Executive Chief of the department, the third-tier employees responded to the same items, along with scales measuring the quality of leader-member exchange (LMX) with middle-level managers, organizational commitment, organizational citizenship behavior, and psychological empowerment. Correlational and stepwise regression analyses showed that perceptions of all three dimensions of transformational leadership were significantly correlated with LMX. While dimensions of transformational leadership and LMX were variously correlated with member reactions, executive level charismatic leadership and manager level LMX were the most dominant predictors of affective and normative commitment, and the meaning, self-determination, and impact dimensions of psychological empowerment.Results indicate that (a) while the cascading effect of top level leadership may still be difficult to predict, executives should be aware of the concept so that they are better able to ensure that the messages sent and received throughout organizations are consistent and lead to heightened organizational functioning; (b) executive leaders within the Parks and Recreation setting should be cognizant of the correlation between their leadership behaviors and the leadership behaviors of middle-level managers within their organization, and how these can relate to employee level outcomes; and (c) executive leaders and middle-level managers should understand that perceived charisma and individualized consideration seem to be the critical components for influencing the attitudes and behaviors of employees within their organizations.
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