The study of transformational leadership and leader development of public health directors in the Midwest
vi Table of Contents Acknowledgments v List of Tables ix List of Figures x CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION 1 Introduction to the Problem 1 Background of the Study 3 Statement of the Problem 5 Purpose of the Study 5 Research Questions 6 Significance of the Study 6 Definition of Terms 7 Assumptions and Limitations 9 Nature of the Study 11 Organization of the Remainder of the Study 13 CHAPTER 2. LITERATURE REVIEW 14 Introduction 14 Leadership 15 Transformational Leadership 19 Leadership Development 31 Public Health Leadership 37 Conclusion 41
vii CHAPTER 3. METHODOLOGY 43 Introduction 43 Hypotheses 44 Research Design 46 Population, Sampling Frames, and Sample 47 Responses 47 Instrumentation 49 Data Collection 58 Data Analysis 61 Ethical Considerations 65 CHAPTER 4. RESULTS 68 Introduction 68 Overview 68 Missing Data 69 Demographics 69 MLQ and LDEI Descriptives and Scales 71 Reliability 74 Normality 75 Hypothesis Testing 88 Conclusion 94 CHAPTER 5. DISCUSSION, IMPLICATIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS 95 Summary 95 Review of Study Results 97
viii Discussion of Findings 101 Limitations 106 Recommendations for Future Research 107 Conclusion 109 REFERENCES 110 APPENDIX. LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCES INVENTORY 125
ix List of Tables Table 1. Eras of Orthodox Leadership Theory and Research 17 Table 2. Analysis Plan for Each Hypothesis 64 Table 3. LDEI Q5: Years of Leadership 70 Table 4. LDEI Q5: Descriptive Years of Leadership 71 Table 5. MLQ Description 72 Table 6. Descriptive Statistics: Transformational, Transactional, and Passive Leadership 73 Table 7. Descriptive: Leadership Development Experiences 74 Table 8. Shapiro–Wilk Tests of Normality 76 Table 9. Hypothesis 1 Correlations 88 Table 10. Hypothesis 2 Correlations 89 Table 11. Hypothesis 3 Correlations 90 Table 12. Hypothesis 4 Correlations 91 Table 13. Hypothesis 5 Correlations 91 Table 14. Hypothesis 6 Correlations 92 Table 15. Summary of Findings From Hypothesis Testing 93
x List of Figures Figure 1. Conceptual framework 12 Figure 2. Distribution of Transformational leadership 77 Figure 3. Distribution of Transactional leadership 78 Figure 4. Distribution of Passive leadership 79 Figure 5. Distribution of Formal leadership development 80 Figure 6. Distribution of Informal leadership development 81 Figure 7. Normal q-q plot of formal leadership development 82 Figure 8. Normal q-q plot of informal leadership development 83 Figure 9. Normal q-q plot of transformational leadership 83 Figure 10. Normal q-q plot of transactional leadership 84 Figure 11. Normal q-q plot of passive leadership 84 Figure 12. Scatter plot of transformational leadership and formal development experiences 85 Figure 13. Scatter plot of transformational leadership and informal development experiences 85 Figure 14. Scatter plot of transactional leadership and formal development experiences 86 Figure 15. Scatter plot of transactional leadership and informal development experiences 86 Figure 16. Scatter plot of passive leadership and formal development experiences 87 Figure 17. Scatter plot of passive leadership and informal development experiences 87
CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION
Introduction to the Problem Public health organizations and practitioners in the United States are entrusted with ensuring the well-being and health of a nation in times of relative calm and in times of crisis through education, policy change, development, execution, and enactment of programs aimed at improving health outcomes. They are tasked with looking out for the greater good of health for the population and not individual care and treatment. The profession of public health encompasses 10 essential public health services. These services should take place in every community and include the basic expectations of the public health professional (Core Public Health Functions Steering Committee, 1994). The services are: 1. Monitor health status to identify and solve community health problems. 2. Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community. 3. Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues. 4. Mobilize community partnerships and action to identify and solve health problems. 5. Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts.
2 6. Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety. 7. Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable. 8. Assure competent public and personal healthcare workforce. 9. Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population- based health services. 10. Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems. State and local governmental agencies are often the organizations responsible for the direct initiation of basic public health programs and services, such as assessing and responding to public health threats, biosecurity, planning in the event of a pandemic flu, immunizations, food safety, and other health programs and policies aimed at the general population. The organizations that make up the web of public health agencies include federal resources (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Service), state agencies, and local organizations. The leaders within these organizations, as with any organization, are key to the success or failure of their organizations (Bass & Riggio, 2006) and ultimately the health of the populations they serve. Leadership has been identified as a significant weakness in the public health sector both today and for the future (Institute of Medicine, 2002), which in turn has encouraged an increased focus on the education and development of public health leaders. This focus targets the sustainment and improvement of organizational performance, including programs and services. The gains in healthy lifestyles and
3 increased life expectancy in the general population over the last 50 years have been further expanded by ensuring a future of strong and skilled public health leaders. Leaders within public health organizations are often well-educated in the healthcare element of their role, such as medicine, epidemiology, or similar technical fields (Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, 2007; National Association of City and County Health Departments, 2006). Technical expertise fills an important role in leadership, but effective leadership is much more than just being able to perform the technical responsibilities (Kotterman, 2006). Successful leaders thrust into these positions figure it out with on-the-job training, while unsuccessful leaders can negatively impact their organizations, by placing the organization in difficult situations, including financial hardships and other management-related problems that persist long after the leader has moved on.
Background of the Study Leadership has been the subject of study for many decades (Bass, 1990a). Organizations and individuals alike want to understand why one leader succeeds while another fails. This quest to understand leadership has evolved, with a number of theories being cast aside as further research and study has taken place. The study of leadership has moved away from the search for a genetic reason for an individual to succeed as a leader (born), to the creation of a number of other models to explain the phenomenon of leadership. One such model was the creation of a set of charismatic and skill-based explanation (made), called transformational leadership (Bass, 1985).
4 Transformational leadership theory has garnered the largest focus over the last 15 years in research, writing, and publicity (Smith, Montagno, & Kuzmenko, 2004). This well-established theory contends that leaders can learn and develop the skills necessary to be successful leaders rather than having inherent leadership qualities (Kouzes & Posner, 2002). According to research on transformational leadership, an organization’s performance increases in effectiveness and efficiency as the leader develops his or her transformational leadership style. Organizations and individuals, in the quest of improving leadership, have developed educational programs and developmental opportunities for current and prospective leaders (McCauley & Van Velsor, 2004). Although the use of leadership education and leadership development have been employed synonymously (Drew-Smith, Chas Pell, Jones, Sloman, & Blacknell, 1990), each possesses important distinctions. The differences between leadership education and leadership development will be defined later in this chapter. Ultimately, the goal of leadership education and development is the transfer of knowledge to improve the practice of leadership. Strong leaders alone have no intrinsic value to the organization, whereas high-performing leaders have been shown to enhance the likelihood of increased organizational performance (Bass, et al., 2003). Therefore, this link between development and leadership outcomes needs to be fully explored to ensure the highest likelihood for better performance of public health organizations.
5 Statement of the Problem Individuals in leadership roles in public health organizations often obtained their positions due to their healthcare expertise or as political appointments. These leaders are then asked to utilize leadership and organizational management skills to lead a complex agency that demands they exercise these skills on a daily basis. The optimal development of these individuals’ leadership and management skills can positively impact the quality and effectiveness of the public health agency.
Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to examine the degree to which factors that contribute to effective leadership skills of individuals who hold leadership positions in a public health agency in the Midwest are related to (or a function of) transformational leadership. These factors included prior leadership education, development through self- education, practice and experiences, and the relationship to the application of one popular leadership theory in local, public health leaders. This study’s aim was to create and enhance the theoretical foundation for research in the relationship between leadership education, formal and informal development, and transformational leadership. The study examined leaders of local public health governmental agencies in the Midwest. These local public health leaders were identified as the persons designated as the directors of their respective organizations.
6 Research Questions Management Question How can quality and effective leadership be assured for public health organizations? Research Questions 1. How does the application of transformational leadership theory impact the public health organization? 2. Does leadership development impact the adoption of transformational leadership? Investigative Questions 1. What is the level of leadership development in local public health directors in the Midwest? 2. Is there a relationship between leadership development and the adoption of transformational leadership?
Significance of the Study This study contributes to the body of knowledge of transformational leadership and its relationship to leadership education and development. While leadership development and education have become more widespread, the study of their effectiveness in improving leaders has not kept up (Williams, Graham, & Baker, 2003). This study fills this void while extending the reach to a previously understudied population in the research of public health.
7 The knowledge created by this study may also have practical application to public health leaders and organizations by providing additional information on leadership and the development and education of leaders. These results may impact the way public health leaders are developed and identify links between developmental opportunities and experiences and transformational leadership.
Definition of Terms Director. For the purposes of this study, the hierarchically highest employed individual within the selected local public health agency. Formal leadership development. Involves an outside influenced educational experience that takes leaders outside of their day-to-day routine and allows them the opportunity to explore their leadership styles, skills, and capabilities in a neutral environment (McCauley & Van Velsor, 2004). Governmental agency. A public organization whose primary mission is not to make a profit but to serve the constituency and community for which it has been charged (Van Wart, 2008). This current research focused on local public health agencies whose primary mission is to improve the overall health of the community. Informal leadership development. Those activities identified that fall outside those deemed as formal developmental experiences (McCauley & Van Velsor, 2004) and yet are important to leadership experience and development (Day, 2000; Lucy & Adela, 2004; Popper, 2005; Prewitt, 2003). Informal leadership development is the processes and experiences that are ongoing, take place regardless of planning, often in the day-to-
8 day occurrence of leading (Day, 2000), such as the practice and experiences of leadership. Laissez-faire leadership. “The avoidance or absence of leadership” (Bass & Riggio, 2006, p. 8). Laissez-faire leadership has also been referred to as passive leadership (Avolio & Bass, 2004). Leadership. Defined in many different ways (Bass, 1990a), but for the purposes of this paper, is the use of power, influence, and responsibility for the organization’s success (Boyatzis, Smith, & Blaize, 2006). This generic definition is further refined by the theories of transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership (Bass & Riggio, 2006). Leadership development, leader development. Synonymous in this paper, although it is acknowledged that to some, these concepts can be separated into organizational and individual development (McCauley & Van Velsor, 2004). Leadership development is the “expansion of a person’s capacity to be effective in leadership roles and processes” (McCauley & Van Velsor, 2004), p. 2). Leadership education, leadership development. Considered synonymous for the purposes of this study. However, the acknowledged differences are “leadership education is characterized by structured university or college-based programmes, while leadership development is likely to include a broader spectrum of learning activities such as seminars, executive coaching, or mentoring interventions” (Burke & Collins, 2005, p. 976). Public health. A profession dedicated to promoting and protecting the health of a population through education, policy, research, and prevention (Association of Schools of
9 Public Health, 2008). Public health professionals accomplish these goals by planning programs such as immunizations and implementing policies (e.g., increased cigarette tax policy) designed to benefit the greater good. Transactional leadership. This is the process by which leadership is a social exchange between persons (Bass & Riggio, 2006), such as the exchange of monetary resources for completion of the assigned tasks. Transformational leadership. Is about change—change in the leader, follower, and organization based on a mutually agreed-upon vision set by the leader and acted upon by the leader and followers (L. M. Brown & Posner, 2001). This change can happen based on the leader’s abilities and skills, outlined in Chapter 2.
Assumptions and Limitations Assumptions Assumptions include the following: 1. The research questions can be addressed with the study’s research methods. 2. Research participants will take the survey questions seriously and complete them with answers that closely reflect their true attitudes and actions. 3. Sample participants have access to and understand how to operate a computer in order to complete the online survey instrument. 4. The intended survey recipients (local public health department directors in the Midwest) will complete the survey. No way currently exists to assure the intended participants will complete the survey instrument while maintaining strict confidentiality.
10 5. The formal and informal experiences that exist as checklist items in the researcher-developed Leadership Development Experiences Inventory (LDEI) are assumed to have equal weight. Limitations Possible limitations of this research study include the following: 1. Relative small sample size located in a similar geographical region may not represent all local, state, and federal public health organizations. 2. Self-reporting surveys have well-documented limitations (Aiman-Smith & Markham, 2004), which impact the conclusions drawn from the results. This limitation could be overcome, to some extent, if other raters were selected to confirm or challenge the self-reported results (Avolio & Bass, 2004). However, since the intent of this study was exploratory, the results with this limitation should give initial view on the research questions. 3. Survey response rates are well-documented limitations to any study employing such method to collect data (Eby, 2003). Every effort and follow- up was made to achieve a high response rate, described in-depth in Chapter 3. 4. Since outside variables were not manipulated as a part of the research design, other causes for the results cannot be discounted. 5. There may be a significant difference between those who do not complete the survey and those who do. No way exists to collect information on this group, so their impact on the final results cannot be anticipated. This limitation would be null if the entire population completed the survey.
11 6. The LDEI is limited to face and content validity. A similar survey instrument does not exist for comparison purposes, which would ensure the highest level of validity, construct validity (Fink, 2009), for the LDEI.
Nature of the Study The research questions and the researcher’s view of the knowledge creation should be the underlying guides as to which approach is used in a particular study (Arbnor & Bjerke, 1997; Creswell, 2003). After carefully reviewing the management question, previous research in the field, and the researcher’s orientations, this study utilized survey instruments, which is a quantitative approach, in the attempt to answer the research questions. The successful precedence of survey instruments to measure transformational leadership (Geyer & Steyrer, 1998) established the case to use survey instruments to explore the relationship between leadership development and leadership education on the adoption impact of transformational leadership characteristics and organizational performance in state public health organizations. Additionally, the use and adaptation of existing survey instruments lent credibility and validity to the study approach. A logical extension of this research would have been to explore how leadership affected the performance of the organizations. Currently, there is not a consensus for the standard organizational performance measures or standards consistent for all local public health departments. However, since the theory of transformational leadership theory has an established record, within multiple contexts, including many different professions, of having a positive impact on an organization’s performance (Avolio, Bass, & Jung, 1999),
12 it could be applied to public health leaders in increasing the effectiveness of their organizations’ performance. The conceptual framework for this study began at the basic building block: individual leadership. Leadership development experiences, both formal and informal, represent the independent variable, and leaders’ adoption of transformational leadership was the dependent variable. A number of circumstances can mitigate a leader’s style beyond development, to include organizational culture, industry, and so forth. As described in the previous paragraph and in greater detail in the literature review, a leader who displays transformational leadership behaviors increases the performance of his or her organization. See Figure 1 for a graphical description of the study’s conceptual framework; a detailed discussion of the study methods can be found in Chapter 3.
Figure 1. Conceptual framework.
Leadership Type Dependent Variable:
Leadership Development Experiences Organizational Performance Mitigating Variables
Organizational culture, policies, procedures Individual Leader
13 Organization of the Remainder of the Study Chapter 2, the literature review, describes the theories and concepts that underpin this study. The chapter includes an overview of leadership, transformational leadership, leadership development, and the past research of these topics in governmental organizations, specifically in the profession of public health. Chapter 3 provides a discussion of the methodology. The chapter describes the study’s research plan, including the study design, sample population, variables, instruments, data analysis, validity and reliability, and ethical considerations. The chapter provides the information in enough detail so as to allow for exact replication of the study. Chapter 4 reports the results of the study. The results are presented in a non evaluative way and include the number of surveys returned, aggregate descriptive data, and a testing for each of the hypotheses. The evaluation of the results, implications on scholars and practice, and recommendations for future research are discussed in Chapter 5. The chapter reviews the impact of the study and wraps up with future considerations.
CHAPTER 2. LITERATURE REVIEW
Introduction Leadership has been studied for years, in many different fashions, and one common theme has emerged: A leader impacts outcomes in ways many other factors do not (Bass, 1990a). The methods by which a person leads an organization and the associated actions and style of the leader have an impact on the success or failure of the organization (Rowe, 2001). The impact of a leader may outlast the leader’s tenure by the example set and organizational culture created (Schein, 2004). This reality underscores the fact that leadership must be taken seriously for the sake of the organization, today and tomorrow. The ever-changing business climate continues to challenge leaders to chart a course for their organizations (Ajarimah, 2001). Leaders are confronting competition in a global marketplace, navigating a volatile geopolitical climate, and preparing contingency plans for emergencies in post-9/11 fashion. Organizations need leaders who know the past, react to the present, and predict the future (Bass, 1985b). How leaders go about this business of leading is still open to debate. Theories abound describing the attributes and actions of a leader (Bargal & Schmid, 1989). No undisputed theory of leadership exists, but the trend is toward defining a leader as one who develops others and enables them to act (Smith et al., 2004).
15 Transformational leadership (Bass & Riggio, 2006; Burns, 1978; Kouzes & Posner, 2002) is one prominent theory that contains these qualities while purporting to predict a model for successful leadership. The first step in the process of understanding leadership, for the sake of this study, is the creation of an overview of leadership. Following sections then discuss the history and main tenets of transformational leadership theory, thought on leadership development in general and how it pertains to transformational leaders, and the impact of leaders on their organizations and society.
Leadership An organization can be defined as the intentional collection of individuals after a common goal (Senge, 2006). They work together in an effort to adapt to the external environment and internal forces so as to survive, succeed, and thrive. When an organization does not successfully adjust to the requirements placed on it, failure becomes a real possibility. Leaders set the conditions for success or failure by their actions (Bass & Riggio, 2006). Leaders set the organization on the pathway to success in a number of different ways. The leadership of the organization is tasked with establishing the culture (Schein, 2004), allocating resources (Van Wart, 2008), and setting the goals. Each of these events holds the keys to the failure and success of the organization (Bass, 1990a). The study of leadership is a complex endeavor (Sashkin & Burke, 1990). Leadership involves human interaction, development, perceptions, and group dynamics that, taken individually, involve a multifaceted collection of potential areas of study.
16 These are only a sample of many components involved in leadership. Understanding that leadership is important, a number of theories have been proposed over the years to explain the phenomenon (Bass, 1990a). The theories of leadership, like other theories, attempt to deconstruct the phenomenon to the most basic components for greater understanding and allow the study of those components (Kuhn, 1962). The theories of leadership and the paradigms associated with these components have been broken down by historical periods (see Table 1). Each of these periods represents the history and evolution of leadership study. As Table 1 shows, leadership has a long and multifaceted history that continues to evolve as researchers learn more. As displayed in Table 1, leadership has been a thoroughly reviewed field of study (Bass, 1990a; Van Wart, 2008). Leadership, as Bass noted, is “one of the world’s oldest preoccupations” (p. 3). The concept has been around for centuries and many different professions have been the focus for understanding, from the religious (priests, rabbis, etc.) to historians, psychologists, and nearly as many more as there are professions. The theories and methods by which those theories were tested have become more complex over the years, but the reason attention is still paid to the topic is the importance of leaders on outcomes. Leaders’ potential and proven impact on their organizations (Conger & Kanungo, 1988) encouraged study to see if there was a way to understand successful and effective leaders, to replicate their actions, behaviors, and, similarly, realizing those leaders who impacted in a negative way (Bass, 1990a) in order to avoid the same mistakes.
17 Table 1. Eras of Orthodox Leadership Theory and Research Era Major time frame Major characteristics/examples of proponents Great man Pre-1900; continues to be popular in biographies • Emphasis on emergence of a great figure such as Napoleon, George Washington, or Martin Luther who has a substantial effect on society • Era influenced by notions of rational social change by uniquely talented and insightful individuals
1900 – 1948; resurgence of recognition of importance of natural talents • Emphasis on the individual traits (physical, personal, motivational, aptitudinal) and skills (communication and ability to influence) that leadership bring to all leadership tasks • Era influenced by scientific methodologies in general (especially industrial measurement) and scientific management in particular (e.g. the definition of roles and assignments of competencies to those roles)
1948 to the 1980s; continues as basis of most rigorous models but with vastly expanded situational repertoire • Emphasis on the situational variables with which leaders must deal, especially performance and follower variables. Shift from traits and skills to behaviors (e.g. informing and delegating versus consulting and motivating). Dominated by bimodal models in its heyday • Era influenced by the rise of human relations theory, behavioral science (in areas such as motivation theory), and the use of small group experimental designs in psychology • Examples emphasizing bimodal models include the Ohio State Studies, Michigan, Hersey-Blanchard, managerial grid, leadership theory involving maximal levels of participation (generally with three to seven major variables) includes Fiedler, House, Vroom
1978 to present
Emphasis on leaders who create change in deep structures, major processes, or overall culture. Leader’s mechanisms may be a compelling vision, brilliant technical insight, and/or charismatic quality
18 Table 1. Eras of Orthodox Leadership Theory and Research (continued) Era Major time frame Major characteristics/examples of proponents Transformational (continued) 1978 to present • Era influenced by the loss of American dominance in business, finance, and science, and the need to reenergize various industries that had slipped into complacency • Examples (academic and popular) include Burns, House, Bennis, Iacocca, Kouzes and Posner, Senge, Tichy, and Devanna, Bass and Conger
1979 to present
Emphasis on ethical responsibilities to followers, stakeholders, and society. Business theorists tend to emphasize service to followers, political theorist, emphasize citizens; public-administration analysts tend to emphasize legal compliance and/or citizens • Era influenced by social sensitivities raised in the 1960s and 1970s • Early proponents include Greenleaf, Burns. Contemporary and popular proponents include DuPree, Covey, Rost, Autry, Vaill, Gardner
1990s to present
• Emphasis on integrating the major schools, especially the transactional schools (trait and behavior issues largely representing management interests) and transformational schools (visionary, entrepreneurial, and charismatic) • Era affected by a highly competitive global economy and the need to provide a more sophisticated and holistic approach to leadership • Yukl, Hunt, Chemers, House
E motional intelligence 2000 to present
• Emphasis on the way a leader understands their own emotions, the emotional state of others, and how to use those understanding to inspire others. • Examples are Boyatzis, Goleman, MacKee
Note. From Montgomery Van Wart, LEADERSHIP IN PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS: AN INTRODUCTION (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2008): 15 Copyright © 2008 by M. E. Sharpe, Inc. Used with permission.
19 The ways in which leaders’ impact organizations are discussed further in later sections, but the fact remains that leaders create a difference, which makes this an important area of study for any organization wanting to change its future. One proven theory of leadership over the last 20 years is transformational leadership (Bass & Riggio, 2006).
Transformational Leadership History Leadership has been studied from numerous angles (Ahn, Adamson, & Dornbusch, 2004; Bass, 1985; Berg, 2007; Boyatzis, et al., 2006; Downton, 1973; Goleman, 2004; Jooste, 2004; Peck, 2007; Schein, 2004; Spears, 2004; Waite, 2006; Wright, 2007) and hypothesized with countless theories in an almost infinite number of settings (Johnson, 2007), yet leadership has remained a complex phenomenon. Over the last 20 years of research, one theory on leadership has been developed extensively (Xenikou & Simosi, 2006) to show how it improves organizations and individuals: transformational leadership theory (Burns, 1978). The initial conceptual model that outlines the attributes of a transformational leader began with the seminal piece by Burns (1978). Burns, a political scientist by training, was interested in leadership and how it manifested itself in national leadership. Using this knowledge of the previously cited charismatic leadership, Bass (1985a) took this idea one step further. He described a great leader as someone with the ability to transform his or her organization (followers) into something greater than what he or she could accomplish alone, with the transforming leader’s skills and abilities. This idea, that