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Monday, July 29, 2013

Participative Versus Directive Leadership Styles


A study of 445 lecturers and 138 principles sought to determine the satisfaction level of college staff with leadership use of directive or supportive management styles.  Research by Awan, et. al. (2011) helps define how college management perception is influenced by employee’s locus of control. Even though the results support the general theory’s premises it does indicate that extremes of participative or directive leadership behavior can have a negative impact on the functioning of the organization.

Locus of control relates to the belief that either the person or the environment is responsible for personal influence. A person who has an internal locus of control believes that they have influence over the environment while a person with an external locus of control believes that the environment has control over them. This interpretation of the self within the environment impacts behavioral choices one makes and their motivation level. 

The research question is, “What is the relationship between locus of control and subordinates’ outcomes, who work under directive and participative leaders, holding constant the effect of principals’ role ambiguity and stress?” In other words, how does internal and external locus of control influence subordinate performance under directive or participative leaders?

The study focused on college professors, assistant professors, associate professors, and lecturers in Pakistan. Leadership behavior and subordinate characteristics were assessed through questionnaires. Three aspects of directive leadership and participative leadership were used during the assessment ranging from low to high.

The study found that directive leadership was associated with leader acceptance by those with an external locus of control and less accepted by people with internal locus of control. Likewise, the study found that a moderate participative leadership had a positive impact on job expectancies of those with an internal locus of control. When leadership was highly supportive it negatively impacted the satisfaction of employees that maintained an external locus of control. 

The results generally support path-goal theory in colleges. However, the extremes of leadership appear to be an issue here. Too much of a good thing appears to create lower satisfaction among employees. Too high directive and too high participative leadership styles appear to negatively impact their environments. The key may be to balance these extremes based upon the pendulum of locus of control found among employees within the organization. Some employees may need to be told what to do while others drawn into the management decisions.

Awan, et. al, (2011). Locus of control as moderator of relationship between leadership behaviors of principles and their faculty outcomes: a path-goal approach. International Journal of Social Sciences & Education, 1 (4).

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