Leaders' behavior and workers' social identity: "alternative ways of leading and being in organizations"

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Leaders' behavior and workers' social identity: "alternative ways of leading and being in organizations"

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This study used an inter-method mixing approach with one-group categorized as the research population (subdivided into team leaders, coordinators and team members) from financial service entity in Trinidad and Tobago. A correlational design was used using four instruments and interviews Problem -- Followers behave like outer-group members and estrange from the leader and the organization when they perceive their leaders as out-group members. Therefore, understanding the philosophical underpinnings of leadership and followship is imperative in developing suitable criteria for selecting, developing and retaining suitable leaders and for understanding the outcomes of leaders’ behavior. Purpose -- The purpose of this study is 1) to investigate the relatedness of leaders’ behavior with followers’ social identity and 2) to describe how participants feel about the way leading and following are being experienced by financial service employees working in a private sector (business) environment in Trinidad and Tobago. Design/Methodology – the study used an intermixing survey research design to examine the relationship between leaders’ behavior and followers’ social identity using quantitative and qualitative measures. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, the General Leadership Questionnaire (sub-scale: II-A, II-B, IM, IS, IC, CR, ME-A, ME-P and LF). Interviews were used to measure leaders’ behavior and the Individualism-Collectivism Scale (subscale: VC, VI, HC, HI) was used to evaluate followers’ social identity and test six hypotheses derived from the hypothesized relationship between leaders’ behavior and followers social identity. Findings – Found was a positive relationship with leaders’ laissez-faire leadership behavior and followers’ tendencies to engage in collectivism behavior but no relationship with individualism was observed. A weak negative relationship was noted with leaders’ transformational behavior and followers’ collectivistic orientation. No statistical significant relationship was seen with leaders’ transactional leadership behaviors and followers individualistic and collectivistic propensities. These results were confirmed through Pearson Correlation. The paired-sample t-test indicated variations in the way leaders (self) and followers (other) though of leaders’ behavior. Both these sets of results were corroborated but the qualitative feedback received from interviews, MLQ and I-C Scale comments and General Leadership Questionnaire (GLQ). Research Limitations/implications – Excluded from the study were senior leaders of the company and would have add another level of analysis. Future studies should be expanded to include comparison groups from similar industries as well as different sectors in Trinidad and Tobago of comparable size and then to expand these studies cross-culturally to better understand leadership-followership behaviors in a changing globalized environment. As well, this study should be repeated as a national study to get a better sampling of leaders’ behavior in difference industries, organization and persons with different leadership-followership experiences. Practical Implication – Leaders’ success centers on how well they understand the cultural implications of the global environment in which they lead, the people they lead and the complex nature of the environment within which they function. Hence, this study provide some baseline confirmatory information to identify areas of leadership inconsistencies and for conducting future leadership- followership enquiries to evaluate leadership models associated with some of the failed organizations and countries to see where the gaps exist. Policy Implication: The findings from this study can be used to develop focused leadership academic programs, leadership development programs and to formulate clear policies for wholesome leader-follower interaction. Social implications – Leaders’ behavior identified and how these relate to followers’ social identity have potent implications for selecting, developing and retaining leaders capable of cultivating a work climate that enhances followers’ social identity where identities are in a constant state of undulation and change from globalization. Originality/value –The findings in this study may provide an added resource for understanding, selecting, developing and retaining leaders who acknowledge followers’ needs, are able to align with the organizational values, goals and objectives, and can operate in the ever changing operational environment with a commitment to self-improvement.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. March 2013. Major: Work and Human Resource Education. Advisors: Dr. Rosemarie Park, Dr. James Brown. 1 computer file (PDF); xvi, 350 pages, appendices A-V.

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Harewood, Earl Angelinus. (2013). Leaders' behavior and workers' social identity: "alternative ways of leading and being in organizations". Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/150731.

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