Taxonomy of Leadership Behavior: Integrating a Half Century of Behavior Research Gary Yukl Angela Gordon University at Albany,
Tom Taber State University
of New York, Albany, NY
major problem leadership research and has been lack of agreement about which theory behavior categories are relevant and meaningful. It is difficult to integrate findings from five decades of research unless the many diverse leadership behaviors can be integrated in a parsimonious and meaningful conceptual An emerging solution is a framework. hierarchical taxonomy with three metacategories (task, relations, and change behavior). Confirmatory factor analysis of a behavior A
major problem in research leadership has been
and theory on the lack of
agreement about which behavior categories
description questionnaire found more support for this taxonomy than for alternative models. INTRODUCTION
A large amount of the empirical research on effective leadership has sought to identify the types of behaviors that enhance individual and collective performance. The most common research method has been a survey field study with a behavior description questionnaire. In the past half century, hundreds of survey studies have examined the correlation between leadership behavior and various indicators of leadership effectiveness (Bass, 1990; Yukl, 2002). Other methods (e.g., laboratory experiments, field experiments, critical incidents) have been used much less frequently to identify effective types of leadership behavior.
relevant and meaningful for leaders. It is very difficult to compare and integrate the results from studies that use different sets of behavioral There has been a bewildering categories. proliferation of taxonomies on leadership behavior Sometimes (see Bass, 1990; Yukl, 2002). different terms have been used to refer to the same type of behavior. At other times, the same term has been defined differently by various theorists. What is treated as a general behavior category by one theorist is viewed as two or three distinct categories by another theorist. What is a key concept in one taxonomy is absent from another. Different taxonomies have emerged from different research disciplines, and it is difficult to translate from one set of concepts to another.
Task And Relations Behavior The early leadership research emphasized two general, broadly-defined behavior categories (&dquo;metacategories&dquo;) that are best described as relations-oriented behavior and task-oriented behavior. Examples include consideration and initiating structure (Fleishmen, 1953; Halpin & Winer, 1957) in early research on leader behavior, and concern for people and concern for production in the managerial grid model (Blake & Mouton, 1982). For three decades, research on leader behavior was dominated by a focus on these two broadly-defined categories of behavior. Many studies were conducted to see how measures of
16 consideration and initiating structure were correlated with criteria of leadership effectiveness, such as subordinate satisfaction and performance. A meta-analysis of this survey research found that both behaviors have a positive but weak correlation with subordinate performance (Fisher & Edwards, 1988). Subsequent research on specific types of task and relations behavior found correlations with unit performance that were sometimes stronger but still not consistent across situations (Yukl, 2002).
Importance Of Leading Change In their preoccupation with task and relations behaviors, the early scholars mostly ignored change-oriented leadership. Only recently have researchers become interested in the way leaders initiate and implement change in organizations. It is important to clarify the distinction task-oriented, relationsamong oriented, and change-oriented behaviors, because all three types of behaviors may be relevant for understanding effective leadership in different situations. The...