A Multilevel Study of Transformational Leadership, Identification, and Follower Outcomes

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The Leadership Quarterly 23 (2012) 775–790

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The Leadership Quarterly
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/leaqua

A multilevel study of transformational leadership, identification, and follower outcomes☆
Xiao-Hua (Frank) Wang a,⁎, Jane M. Howell b, 1
a
b

Competence Centre People & Organization, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, Vlamingenstraat 83, 3000 Leuven, Belgium Taylor/Mingay Chair of Leadership, Richard Ivey School of Business, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 3K7

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Article history:
Received 8 May 2011
Received in revised form 20 January 2012
Accepted 1 February 2012
Available online 2 March 2012
Keywords:
Transformational leadership
Multilevel
Identification

abstract
Using a sample from a large diversified company, this study examines the influence processes of transformational leadership (TFL) at both the individual and group levels concurrently and explores cross-level relationships. Results showed that, at the individual level, followers' personal identification with the leader mediated the effects of individual-focused TFL behavior on individual performance and empowerment. At the group level, group identification mediated the effect of group-focused TFL behavior on collective efficacy. Results also supported two cross-level effects from the group level to the individual level. The paper addresses the implications for leaders of motivating individuals and teams, at the same time. © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
As teams become more important in many organizations, today's leaders face a challenging balancing act. On the one hand, they need to develop and motivate individual followers so as to ensure that each employee is capable of, and willing to, complete his or her own tasks; on the other hand, they need to facilitate collaboration and build trust among team members so that the team functions effectively as a whole. Overcoming this challenge requires capabilities in both individual and team leadership. However, traditional leadership models have not made a clear distinction between leader–follower interactions and leader– team interactions (Zaccaro, Heinen, & Shuffler, 2009). Previous research has investigated the leadership phenomenon from a multilevel perspective (Chun, Yammarino, Dionne, Sosik, & Moon, 2009; Jung, Yammarino, & Lee, 2009; Markham, Yammarino, Murry, & Palanski, 2010; Yammarino, Dubinsky, Comer, & Jolson, 1997; Yammarino, Spangler, & Dubinsky, 1998); however, researchers have yet to fully investigate the interplay and connections between those two levels (Zaccaro et al., 2009). Leadership is inherently multilevel (Yammarino & Dansereau, 2008), so our understanding of effective leadership will be limited if we fail to integrate individual-level processes with group-level processes (Kozlowski & Bell, 2003). In order to fill this gap, Chen, Kirkman, Kanfer, Allen, and Rosen (2007) recently conducted a multilevel study to examine the effects of leadership on individual- and group-level outcomes, respectively. They reported that, at the individual level, leader–member exchange was related to individual performance via individual empowerment; whereas, at the group level, leadership climate related to group performance through group empowerment.

The purpose of the present study was to extend this line of multilevel research to the domain of transformational leadership (TFL). Transformational leaders express high expectations, provide individualized development, articulate a compelling collective ☆ This research was funded by the grant awarded to Jane M. Howell by Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (410-2006-1896). The authors are grateful for the constructive feedback provided by Natalie Allen, Richard Goffin, John Meyer, Tom O'Neil, Susan Pepper, Glenn Rowe, and Boas Shamir on earlier versions of the article.

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