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Influence of transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership principles on the effectiveness of religious leaders

Dissertation
Author: Amanda T. Manners
Abstract:
In an effort to understand the relationship between leadership style (i.e. independent variable) and leadership effectiveness (i.e. dependent variable) within religious organizations, this mixed-research examined the relationship between applying transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership principles by religious leaders on their leadership effectiveness within their congregations. Religious leaders are faced with many of the same challenges in leading their congregations that secular organizations have. Improving leadership effectiveness within religious organizations constitutes an examination of preferred leadership style to determine if selected leadership methods improve or hinder the congregation. Responses to the study totaled 883 for national and 50 for Wayne County, Michigan. Based on the findings of this study, the laissez-faire leadership style is the most effective leadership style both nationally and within Wayne County, Michigan.

vi TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES...............................................................................................ix CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION.........................................................................1 Background of the Problem..................................................................................1 Statement of the Problem......................................................................................2 Purpose of the Study.............................................................................................3 Significance of the Problem..................................................................................4 Nature and Method of the Study...........................................................................5 Research Questions...............................................................................................6 Theoretical Framework.........................................................................................7 Definition of Terms...............................................................................................9 Assumptions........................................................................................................10 Limitations..........................................................................................................10 Delimitations.......................................................................................................11 Summary.............................................................................................................11 CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.............................................13 Literature Review................................................................................................13 Contextual Review of Literature.........................................................................14 Leadership Defined.............................................................................................15 Historical Overview of Leadership..............................................................16 Leadership Effectiveness.............................................................................17 Religious Leadership..........................................................................................20 Transformational Leadership..............................................................................23

vii Autocratic Leadership.........................................................................................25 Democratic Leadership.......................................................................................26 Laissez-Faire Leadership....................................................................................27 Conclusion..........................................................................................................27 Summary.............................................................................................................28 CHAPTER 3: METHOD....................................................................................30 Research Method and Design.............................................................................31 Appropriateness of Method and Design.............................................................33 Population...........................................................................................................34 Informed Consent................................................................................................34 Confidentiality....................................................................................................35 Sampling, Data Collection, and Rationale..........................................................35 Instrumentation...................................................................................................36 Summary.............................................................................................................38 CHAPTER 4: RESULTS....................................................................................39 Data Collection Method & Sample Size.............................................................39 Demographic Statistics.......................................................................................40 Cronbach's Alpha Analysis.................................................................................46 Descriptive Statistics...........................................................................................47 National Descriptive Statistics.....................................................................47 Wayne County Descriptive Statistics..........................................................49 Statistical Analysis..............................................................................................51 National Statistical Analysis........................................................................51

viii Wayne County Statistical Analysis.............................................................54 National and Wayne County Leadership Style vs. Effectiveness................55 Summary.............................................................................................................56 CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS......................57 Limitations..........................................................................................................57 Conclusions.........................................................................................................58 Future Recommendations...................................................................................59 References...........................................................................................................60 APPENDIX A: PERMISSION TO USE EXISTING SURVEY........................70 APPENDIX B: PULPIT & PEW NATIONAL SURVEY.................................72 APPENDIX C: INFORMED CONSENT FORM-MAILED VERSION.........121 APPENDIX D: CLERGY SURVEY WAYNE CTY.- MAILED VERSION..123 APPENDIX E: INFORMED CONSENT FORM- ONLINE VERSION.........129 APPENDIX F: CLERGY SURVEY WAYNE CTY.- ONLINE VERSION...131 APPENDIX G: CLERGY SURVEY DATA DICTIONARY..........................136

ix LIST OF TABLES Table 1 Preferred Leadership Style....................................................................40 Table 2 National Demographics- Denominational Tradition............................41 Table 3 Wayne County, MI, Demographics- Denominational Tradition...........41 Table 4 National Demographics- Current Position............................................42 Table 5 Wayne County, MI, Demographics- Current Position..........................42 Table 6 National Variable Data Demographics.................................................43 Table 7 Wayne County, MI, Variable Data Demographics................................45 Table 8 Descriptive Statistics for Questions Comprising the Leadership Effectiveness Score for National Data................................................................48 Table 9 Leadership Effectiveness Score by Leadership Style for National Data. .............................................................................................................................48 Table 10 Descriptive Statistics for Questions Comprising Leadership Effectiveness Score for Wayne County, MI.........................................................50 Table 11 Leadership Effectiveness Score by Leadership Style for Wayne, County, MI........................................................................................................................50 Table 12 Regression Analysis Results on National Data for Dependent Variable: Leadership Effectiveness Score, and Independent Variable: Leadership Style..52 Table 13 Post-hoc Pairwise Comparisons Between Leadership Styles on their Leadership Effectiveness Scores.........................................................................53 Table 14 Regression Analysis Results on Wayne County, MI, Data for Dependent Variable: Leadership Effectiveness Score, and Independent Variable: Leadership Style..................................................................................................54

x Table 15 Post-hoc Pairwise Comparisons Between Leadership Styles on their Leadership Effectiveness Scores.........................................................................55 Table 16 Leadership Style vs. Leadership Effectiveness Ranking......................56

1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION Psychologists have found that pastors may be the most frustrated professional group in the United States (London Jr., 1999). A study of pastors indicated that 75% of them are stressed and consider leaving their ministries and between 35-40% of these pastors do leave. The mental breakdown rate of pastors is so high that their insurance premiums are approximately 4% higher than those of their peers in other professions (London Jr.). One of the major sources of frustration is the lack of the business leadership skills needed to manage their Christian congregations effectively (Hart, 2001 as cited in Ravenhill, 1999-2007). There have been many studies done that determine the effectiveness of various leadership styles within secular organizations. However, little research has been done to explore the effectiveness of religious leaders practicing the key conceptual ideas of transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire principles within their organizations. Chapter 1 of this research study will highlight the need for improving the leadership skills of clergy within Catholic and Protestant religious organizations and includes the background, problem statement, and purpose statement. In addition, the importance of the topic of research, research question, and conceptual framework are presented. Background of the Problem Congregations are essential to the productivity and social upstanding of our nation. “Faith communities in which people worship together are arguably the single most important repository of social capital in America” (Putnam, 2000, p. 66). Although these leaders are important to the social health of our society, many do not feel capable of effectively managing their congregations. Recent studies of Christian clergy indicate that nearly 95% believe they are not effective in leadership and thousands of church leaders have left their positions (Anderson, 1999; Purser, 2003). The leaders of these congregations play a vital role in the shaping of our communities. The lack of effective religious

2 leaders presents a social concern within the United States. The importance of the responsibilities and the degree to which clergy perform their essential duties within the church is often misconstrued by others. Besides the work that is done within the worship services, clergy spend a significant amount of time handling administrative duties as well. Carroll (2006) indicates the work of clergy is more complex than what can be seen during weekly worship. These administrative duties are quite similar to those of leaders within secular organizations. These similarities are prevalent within the areas of managing the overall affairs of the organization, training future leaders, and setting goals and visions. The effectiveness of religious leaders practicing some of the predominant leadership styles represents a theoretical interest. An abundance of research is available concerning the application of transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership principles within secular institutions. It is important to assess the impact of applying these predominately secular leadership principles on the effectiveness of religious leaders. This study may assist in bridging the gap in literature that exists in the area of applying transformational, autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire leadership principles within religious organizations. Statement of the Problem The general problem is many pastors become frustrated and discouraged when attempting to lead their congregations. Out of 928 pastors that were asked to resign from their pastoral positions, 447 pastors resigned because of opposing views regarding leadership, 298 resigned due to a lack of people skills, 222 pastors resigned because their church did not want to change, and 212 resigned due to the pastor’s preferred style of leadership (Moore, n.d.). Leaders of mega-churches and smaller churches struggle to lead their congregations effectively. Research indicates the growth of a church and the development of its leadership and management skills are rare in small churches (The Church Report,

3 n.d.). This is a result of the specific problem, which is religious leaders lack the skills to effectively lead their church. Transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership principles have been applied to improve the organizational effectiveness of secular organizations. It is important to understand if these leadership principles are effective within organizations that are faith-based. This study used a mixed-method approach as follows: a) the research consisted of survey analysis, b) preferred leadership styles were assessed, c) the impact of specific leadership principles was measured. The research design consisted of survey analysis. The use of the existing Pulpit & Pew survey and data that was conducted by Carroll was used in order to assess the preferred leadership styles of pastors and determine if there is a relationship to their effectiveness as leaders. This information should lead to the understanding of the impact that transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership principles can have on the leaders of religious organizations’ effectiveness. The general population group for the proposed study included clergy within Catholic, mainline Protestant, conservative Protestant, and historic black traditions. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this mixed-study is to determine the relationship between applying transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership principles by religious leaders on their leadership effectiveness within their congregations. The specific population of this study is clergy within Catholic, mainline Protestant, conservative Protestant, and historic black religious traditions in the United States. This study examined clergy on a national scale and within Wayne County, Michigan. A mixed-study is appropriate as it allows an expansion of theory by adding scope and breadth to a study (Greene, Caracelli, & Graham, 1989). In addition, a mixed-study is necessary when the sample size is large. A dominant-less dominant research design (Creswell, 1994) was used for this study. A dominant-

4 less dominant research design involves a prioritized approach to mixing quantitative and qualitative research where more emphasis is placed on one method over the other. For purposes of this study, an emphasis is placed on quantitative research aspects. This research design is appropriate as it provided a mechanism to conduct quantitative research and introduce a single component of qualitative analysis. The use of the existing Pulpit & Pew survey instrument conducted by Carroll in 2001 was used to retrieve data for purposes of this research study. The Pulpit & Pew research study included a national telephone survey of clergy within the United States to understand what and how clergy were doing and what is perceived as a successful ministry. The survey retrieved a total of 883 applicable clergy responses out of a targeted 1,231 which resulted in a 72% success rate (Carroll, 2006). In addition, a clergy survey administered by mail and on the Web was used to obtain data from within Wayne County, Michigan. For purposes of this present study, the key independent research variable is the preferred leadership style. The key dependent variable is leadership effectiveness. Significance of the Problem The majority of religious leaders help to bring positive change in today’s society. These leaders are expected to help set and maintain ethical values. It is anticipated that these leaders also contribute to increasing the mental health of individuals within our communities. Clergy are known to be one of the primary professions to aid as counselors in mental health for millions of Americans (Weaver, Revilla, & Koenig, 2002). The presence of clergy within society may contribute to its social stability. This research study is important because leaders of religious organizations, much like secular organizations, must effectively manage social concerns, conflict, and change. According to Carroll (2006), some religious leaders have responsibility for administering the affairs of the congregation. Many clergy find this very difficult to do. Carroll suggests clergy have different capabilities and they are not interchangeable. “Not all have similar gifts for ministry, nor do they necessarily have the social or personal characteristics that

5 make them able to lead in every type of congregation or context” (Carroll, p. 9). This study is important to current and future generations of leaders within religious organizations since these generations need to master effective leadership in order to reduce attrition. The results of this study are expected to contribute to leadership knowledge and literature. Nature and Method of the Study The existing Pulpit & Pew survey instrument and data (Carroll, 2006) selected used a cross- sectional survey research design. “A cross-sectional study can examine current attitudes, beliefs, opinions, or practices. Attitudes, beliefs, and opinions are ways in which individuals think about issues, whereas practices are their actual behaviors” (Creswell, p.356). The Pulpit & Pew survey instrument and data (Carroll) assisted in accomplishing the goal of this study as compared to other research methods. Survey research designs in quantitative research involve administering a survey to a sample or entire population in order to describe the attitudes, opinions, behaviors, or characteristics of the population (Creswell, 2005). This research study involves analysis to understand the effect of applying transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership principles by religious spiritual leaders within faith- based organizations. This research may be important as it allows for an expansion of the scope and breadth of the relationship among the key variables in this study using an objective and unbiased approach. The existing Pulpit & Pew survey instrument and data (Carroll, 2006) were administered using telephone surveys compiled of Likert-type questions to understand the leadership style preference and effectiveness demonstrated by the religious, spiritual leaders. Likert-type questions are used in surveys to scale responses based on the attitudes of the sampled participants. This research method applied the same approach, where an analysis of the national telephone surveys of senior pastors was conducted that allowed religious spiritual leaders the freedom to express their leadership experiences. In

6 conjunction, the Clergy Survey comprising applicable questions from the Pulpit & Pew survey was administered to clergy within Wayne County, Michigan for comparative purposes. The research goal in this study is to discover the trends and the relationships among key variables derived from the data that are retrieved from the research participants regarding their leadership styles and competencies. The purpose is not to validate an existing theory but to expand upon theory regarding the relationships between leadership style and leadership effectiveness. The focus of this study is to analyze data from the participants’ responses of their pastoral experiences as well as the views expressed to reveal the advantages and/or disadvantages of using transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership styles within religious organizations. The cross-sectional survey research design facilitated systematic statistical data analysis and discovery of trends about the responses received from the participants. Research Questions This study may further improve upon theory regarding the relationships concerning the application of laissez-faire, transformational, autocratic, and democratic leadership principles by religious leaders and their leadership effectiveness. This study may assist in bridging the gap of the limited amount of literature available to address this leadership topic. The two quantitative research questions for this study were: 1. How does the application of transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership principles by leaders of Catholic, mainline Protestant, conservative Protestant, and historic black religious traditions within the United States impact their leadership effectiveness? 2. How do the results of leaders of Catholic, mainline Protestant, conservative Protestant, and historic black religious traditions within Wayne County, Michigan, compare to the

7 national response? Quantitative research questions were more appropriate than qualitative research questions in order to accomplish the goals of this research because this approach uses parametric data to make advancement in theory regarding the relationships between the independent and dependent variables (Creswell, 1994). Theoretical Framework A review of the literature implies that there has not been sufficient research relating leadership and organizational performance. The relationship between leadership and business performance is implied rather than explicit (Bass, 1990a; Holton & Lynham, 2000; Lynham and Chermack, 2006). The goal of this study is to determine the relationship between the preferred leadership style of religious leaders and their effectiveness within their congregations. Nonprofit organizations (NPOs), such as religious organizations, exhibit administrative responsibilities similar to secular organizations, which need to be managed effectively. Nonprofit organizations must still pay attention to effective management practices (Chung & Lo, 2007). This study examined how the application of transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership principles determines the level of effectiveness that leaders of religious organizations have within their congregations. These four leadership styles have been examined widely within the context of secular organizations: 1. Transformational leadership principles have improved an organization's productivity and empowerment of employees primarily within secular organizations. Bass (1985) contends that transformational leadership would result in followers performing beyond expectation because of the leader's influence. The influence process is described as raising an awareness of the importance of designated outcomes and by developing intellectually stimulating and inspiring followers to go beyond their own self-interests for a higher collective purpose, mission or vision (Ozaralli, 2003).

8 2. Autocratic leadership has been studied widely within secular organizations as well. However, autocratic leadership is least favored within the realms of preferred leadership styles that aim to improve leadership effectiveness and employee motivation. “Common sense tells us that management styles affect people like the weather. The chilly climate and sudden storms of autocratic leadership can turn work into a permanent winter of discontent” (Anonymous, 2004, p. 26). Autocratic leadership is centered on the ability of a leader to use power to achieve his or her goals by the subordinates. Similar connotations for leadership and power exist; the level to which a person influences another toward an objective, to determine what decision are made, to get things done in the manner a person wants them to be (Salancik & Pfeffer, 1977; Wilson & Kenny, 1985; Yukl & Van Vleet, 1992). These similarities often result in leaders confusing their responsibilities with forcing their followers to comply, rather than using more motivational and empowering means to obtain compliance. 3. Democratic leadership principles are yet another area that has been closely examined within secular organizations. “The ‘democratic’ leader makes it clear in advance that s/he will abide by the group’s decision whether arrived at by consensus or majority vote” (Owens, 2001, p. 56).The democratic leadership style involves a highly shared sense of responsibility and the leader makes decision based upon the preferences of the majority. 4. Laissez-faire leadership principles have been studied within secular organizations. Laissez-faire leaders tend to go with the status quo and rarely interfere or cause conflict by introducing new strategy or organization direction. In this approach the leader has a more standoff approach to leading and allows his or her subordinates to manage themselves. “The laissez-faire approach works best in organizations that have a strong sense of self-direction—such as law firms, consultancies, and high-tech companies— and in which every worker is highly skilled and manages his or her own circle of clients” (Marques, 2006, p. 23).

9 It is important to understand if similar effects occur when leaders of religious organizations apply the four leadership principles: transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire within their congregations. This understanding will assist the current literature in assessing if these four leadership principles can become more universalized. This focus of this study is to determine if a relationship exists between the preferred leadership style of religious leaders and their effectiveness within their congregations. Definition of Terms Autocratic Leadership: Leadership that is dictative and authoritarian. These leaders view themselves as always being correct and their decisions should not be challenged (Anthony, 1993). Catholics: Representing a single Christian tradition (Carroll, 2006). Conservative Protestants: Known as evangelicals, this group includes Pentecostal traditions and many are affiliated with the National Association of Evangelicals (Carroll, 2006). Democratic Leadership: Leadership style that encompasses shared responsibility with consensus as a mode of direction rather than through decree (Anthony, 1993). Effective Leadership: Leadership that is competent, knowledgeable, contains management proficiency interpersonal skills, has wisdom, has vision, has goals and the ability to set priorities (Wharton, 2005). Historic Black Churches: Comprised of the major large black denominations. These include the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), African Methodist Episcopal Church Zion (AMEZ), the Christian Methodist Church (CME), the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), the churches affiliated with the National Baptist Convention of the USA, and the churches affiliated with the Progressive National Baptist Convention (Carroll, 2006). Laissez-faire Leadership: Leadership style that embraces maintaining the status quo and preferring

10 not to venture in new territories (Anthony, 1993). Leaders: Individuals who can drive change, lead others, have integrity, have confidence, possess good judgment and have technical knowledge (Graham & Knight-Ridder Newspapers, 1991). Leadership: Counseling, managing conflict, and inspiring loyalty (Fiedler, 1976). Mainline Protestants: Protestant denominations affiliated with the National Council of Churches in the United States (Carroll, 2006). Religious Leadership: “At its core, spiritual leadership is ‘theological,’ it relies on the promises of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual leaders believe we are called to participate in the work that God is doing in the world. In the immortal words of the Blues Brothers, ‘we are on a mission from God’” (McAllister-Wilson, 2003, p. 219). Tradition: A group consisting of unique content, rituals, codes of ethics, expectations, and visions (Seymour, 2007), Transformational Leadership: “Transformational leadership occurs when a leader inspires followers to share a vision, empowering them to achieve the vision, and provides the resource necessary for developing their personal potential” (Smith, Montagno, & Kuzmenko, 2004, p. 80). Assumptions This study is predicated upon the assumption that success of both secular and religious organizational development depends upon those that lead them. The second assumption is that the participants provided honest responses to the survey questions. The third assumption is that quantitative inferential procedures grounded in empiricism and positivism leads to representations of truth. Furthermore, it is not the objective of this study to prove or disprove any of these assumptions. Limitations This study is limited by the candid responses of the participants during the survey process. This

11 study is further limited by the geographical area within the United States. Validity of this study is limited to the reliability of the instruments used. The limitations of this study are as follows: 1. The responses of senior pastors are limited. Assistant and associate pastors are not included in the study. 2. The limited amount of clergy responses. Due to the limited amount of clergy being interviewed from each denomination, the responses were separated into the Catholic, mainline Protestant, conservative Protestant, and historic black traditions previously mentioned. “These are classifications of denominations that the research team has made and not self-definitions of the clergy we surveyed” (Carroll, 2006, p. xi). Delimitations This study was confined to surveying senior pastors and lay members within their respective congregations. This study focused on the religious tradition, preferred leadership style, and leadership effectiveness. Leadership effectiveness was assessed by examining the presence of social conflict within the congregation, the level of morale within the congregation, the level of stress the pastor experiences due to pressures within his or her church, and the level the pastor feels his or her leadership style is effective. Only Christian clergy responses were included in this study. Summary Spirituality plays an important role in many lives. Stability and sound leadership within an organization is important to both the congregation and the organization. Many religious leaders have the faith to help people, but lack training to lead the congregation in the vision of the church. This study may determine if there is a relationship between the application of transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership principles by religious leaders and the level of leadership effectiveness within their congregations. The study expanded upon previous research as presented by

12 Purser’s (2003) dissertation entitled, Ministry leadership in Puget Sound Church of Christ and the descriptive study as presented in Carroll’s (2006) book entitled, God’s Potters. The following chapter is an illustration of the current literature available regarding the more common styles of leadership and context of this study. Chapter 2 will discuss germinal and the more current leadership literature available. In addition, the principles of transformational, autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire, and religious leadership styles will be discussed.

13 CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Chapter 2 is a review of the literature that is currently available within the subject of leadership. The objective of this study is to advance theory regarding transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership principles as they relate to religious organizations. Literature on leadership indicates an absence of general, integrative theory. Much of existing theory focuses on effective leadership, and on leadership processes, at the individual, group, or organizational level. Little emphasis is placed on whole system effect, and less on concerns for both people and performance. (Lynham & Chermack, 2006, p. 73) The intent of this chapter is to identify gaps in literature that exists within the context of applying transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership in religious organizations. Literature Review There are four primary types of leadership that are discussed in this study. They are: transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leaders. The purpose of this mixed-study is to advance theory regarding the relationship of applying transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership principles by religious leaders and their leadership effectiveness within Catholic, mainline Protestant, conservative Protestant, and historic black religious traditions. The four leadership styles were selected because they are widely used within secular organizations and would like to examine if the effectiveness of each is similar within the context of religious organizations. The primary components of this literature review include a comprehensive review of transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership styles and their effectiveness. In addition, an overview of the governance structure of the Catholic, mainline Protestant, conservative Protestant, and historic black religious traditions is portrayed since this is the primary context of this study.

14 Contextual Review of Literature The context of this study consists of an environment that includes Catholic, mainline Protestant, conservative Protestant, and historic black traditions. This study focused on the United States as the geographical location. Within the Christian faith there have been some conflicts between the Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions. Shea (2004) correlates this rise in conflict with the creation of the National Association of Evangelicals and the second Vatican Council. Both the Catholic and Protestant churches have an historical importance and have influenced our society in some form over the years. Within the Catholic leadership context, there have been some problems as to the extent to which the hierarchy of the church would be established. That crisis was resolved, in favor of allowing the church hierarchy to establish the boundaries of Catholic distinctiveness (Dillon, 2006). The Pope is traditionally the head of the Catholic Church. However, his power and influence have evolved over the decades. The Pope has power over all other ministers because he was the successor of St. Peter and the centre of unity in the Roman Catholic Church (Chadwick, 1980). The leaders within the Roman Catholic Church were often noted as having an autocratic leadership style. Roman Catholic parishes are led by autocratic celibate priests; the result is a lack of spiritual growth and personal transformation in Catholic congregations (Brando, 1998). In addition, laymen are assisting in various other departments within the church and their effectiveness seems to be improving with the increased level of knowledge and skills in which they are equipped. In the United States, an increasing number of lay Catholics are earning degrees not only in secular disciplines but also in sacred scripture, theology, pastoral ministry, and liturgy (Schoenherr & Yamane, 2002). The importance of effective leaders at all levels within the church is significant and more focus is being given to establishing churches with the proper personnel in leading positions. Literature was found that discussed the issues Baptist churches encounter. To begin, Leonard

Full document contains 151 pages
Abstract: In an effort to understand the relationship between leadership style (i.e. independent variable) and leadership effectiveness (i.e. dependent variable) within religious organizations, this mixed-research examined the relationship between applying transformational, autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire leadership principles by religious leaders on their leadership effectiveness within their congregations. Religious leaders are faced with many of the same challenges in leading their congregations that secular organizations have. Improving leadership effectiveness within religious organizations constitutes an examination of preferred leadership style to determine if selected leadership methods improve or hinder the congregation. Responses to the study totaled 883 for national and 50 for Wayne County, Michigan. Based on the findings of this study, the laissez-faire leadership style is the most effective leadership style both nationally and within Wayne County, Michigan.