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Transformational Leadership Style and Team Effectiveness for New Leaders

Paper Outline

Introduction
Problem / Opportunity Statement
Purpose Statement
Conceptual / Theoretical Framework
Management / Research Questions
Literature Review / Current Understanding of the Phenomena
Team Leadership style and team effectiveness
Leadership transition

Methodological Approach & Research Design

Sources of Information & Measurement Plan
Data Collection Plan
Data Analysis Plan
Significance / Potential Contributions
Ethical Considerations
Expected Outcome
Limitations and implications of the Study
Personal Reflections & Insights

 
Transformational leadership style and team effectiveness for new leaders
Introduction
Teams have increasingly become prevalent in the current working environment, with most researchers agreeing that teams are central to an organization’s success (Hills, 2007; Martin & Bal, 2006; Mathieu et al, 2008). Effective team leadership is deemed as the most important factor in the success or failure of teams (Grant, 2012). For a transitioning leader, the first few days and months are often critical on how successful they are with their teams (Appelbaum & Valero, 2007).
Transformational leadership is increasingly seen as critical, not only in the competitive landscape of an organization, but also to the leader’s impact on team effectiveness (Grant, 2012; Ozaralli, 2003). Increasingly, leaders are not only faced with the challenge of how to introduce change, but also how to manage change (Watkins, 2004), which seems important when the introduction of the new leader is the change. Watkins (2003) noted that, on average twelve 12 employees are impacted by a new manager. This finding implies that what the new leader in transition does would affect a wide network of employees and, hence, performance within the organization. Since transformational leadership is deemed as critical for team performance, the author seeks to examine the relationship between transformational leadership style and team effectiveness for new leaders in transition, with a special focus on professional knowledge-based work teams
Problem / Opportunity Statement
Most organizations in the current business climate are highly dependent on leaders to lead organizations to success. This dependence is especially so in the current high competitive business environment characterized by high leader turnover, frequent change, and high accountability to stakeholders (Grant, 2012; Hoffman, Bynum, Piccolo, & Sutton, 2011; Stewart, 1992). The problem is that some organizations and some leaders have failed to execute effective leadership transition action plans, which may lead to negative effects, such as leader stress, decreased productivity, higher turnover, and ineffective team performance (Gilmore, 2003).
Both Wageman, Hackman, and Lehmen (2005), who proposed a model of team effectiveness in an organizational context, and Manderscheid and Ardichvili (2008), who proposed a paired model integrating leadership transition theory that proposes effective team relationships are the result of successful leadership transitions, posit that transformational leadership style may be a critical success factor for team effectiveness and the success of new leaders (Appelbaum & Valero, 2007). Watkins (2004) maintained that, to accelerate the transition and build momentum, the new leader must have the ability to engage and influence many individuals throughout the organization “using vision, expertise and drive” (p. 16).
Unlike well-seasoned leaders who may have some understanding on what works in teams or how to handle various challenges that arise in newer teams that they are faced with, new leaders lack the experience of having to deal with such challenges. Most only have theoretical knowledge (Schermerhorn, p.144). Past literature have depicted transformational leadership as the most effective in enabling team performance and effectiveness (Wageman, Hackman and Lehmen, 2005).
Although there is substantive research on leadership style and team effectiveness, there is less on new leader transition (Manderscheid & Ardichvili, 2008). Most of the research have focused on strategies to be employed in transitioning a leader (Manderscheid, 2008), formal interventions that organizations need to undertake in helping a leader transition (Manderscheid & Ardichvili, 2008), the significance of building momentum during the first few days (Denis, Langley and Pineault, 2000; Downey, 2002), and development of a leadership assimilation model for helping new leaders build relationship faster with their new teams (Manderscheid & Ardichvili, 2008).
How leadership style is related to the leaders’ perceptions of team effectiveness has mainly been studied from the leader’s viewpoint. As such, there is a gap between the opinion of the followers and other stakeholders have not been sought. This gap has the implication that leaders always perceive themselves as perfect. There are many aspects of the followers which affect the application of certain leadership styles. Team effectiveness is not only affected by the leaders but also other variables (Avolio, 2010; Appelbaum, & Valero, 2007; Grant, 2012). The leaders’ perceptions though are likely to be biased. Therefore the study focuses on how transformational leadership relates to both leaders’ and subordinates’ perceptions of team effectiveness.
Purpose Statement
The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between transformational leadership style and team effectiveness for new leaders in transition, specifically for professional knowledge-based work teams. Factors central to transformational leadership have been identified as motivation and inspiration (Bass & Stedlmeier, 1990) where the key role for a leader is to be able to motivate inspire and influence followers to achieve greatness. Transformational leadership enables matching of strategy to situations, manages productive relationships, builds cohesive teams and create supportive alliances (Grant 2012; Mathieu et al, 2008). In view of this critical role of transformational leadership in team effectiveness, this paper seeks to understand the effects of transformational leadership among transitioning leaders on team performance. Although significant research exists in the areas of transformational leadership and team effectiveness, an emphasis on leaders during transition phase is lacking, specifically focusing on both leaders’ and subordinates’ perceptions of effective leadership. This study seeks to address this gap in research.
Conceptual / Theoretical Framework
The conceptual framework as depicted in Appendix A, relates transformational leadership to team effectiveness of new leaders. In this framework, the focus is on relating transformational leadership with four of its components: intellectual stimulation, charisma, inspirational motivation and individualized consideration, to team effectiveness with its five components of team communication, team mission, team empowerment, goal achievement, and team cooperation. The theoretical basis of the conceptual framework is based on Bass and Stedlmeier’s (1999) work on authentic transformational leadership model and on Wageman, Hackman, and Lehmen (2005) model on team effectiveness. These two provided the theoretical basis for this study with the conceptual framework reconstructed from Hoffman, Bynum, Piccolo, and Sutton’s (2011) relation of transformational leadership and workgroup effectiveness. From the conceptual framework, it can be noted that four leadership dimensions associated with transformational leadership contributes to a new leader’s impact on of team communication, team mission, team empowerment, goal achievement, and team cooperation which contribute to leadership effectiveness. The four transformational leadership dimensions are proposed to impact leader’s characters and their teams in different ways. In inspirational motivation, the leader effectively communicates a vision; in Charisma, that leader instils respect, faith and a sense of mission and visions in the team; in intellectual stimulation, the leaders provides challenging new ideas motivating deep thinking and reasoning in the team; and in individual consideration, the leader coaches, delegates duties to stimulate learning, and encourage feedback while treating everyone in the team as an individual (Hoffman, Bynum, Piccolo, & Sutton, 2011), all of which improve the effectiveness of the team.
Management / Research Questions
The key questions that this paper seeks to answer are: What is the relationship between transformational leadership style and subordinate ratings of team effectiveness? What is the relationship between transformational leadership style and new leader’s ratings of team effectiveness? The study hypothesizes is that:
Null Hypothesis: H10: there is no positive relationship between transformational leadership style and subordinate ratings on team effectiveness
Alternate Hypothesis: H1A: there is a positive relationship between transformational leadership style and subordinate ratings on team effectiveness
Null Hypothesis: H20: there is no positive relationship between transformational leadership style and new leaders’ ratings on team effectiveness
Alternate Hypothesis: H2A: there is a positive relationship between transformational leadership style and new leader ratings on team effectiveness
Literature Review / Current Understanding of the Phenomena
Team Leadership style and team effectiveness
The concept of leadership has been a central focus for most researchers for decades, with the most recent focus on leadership moving from traditional theories of leadership to the more modern transactional and transformational theories of leadership (Ozaralli, 2003). A lot of emphasis though has been placed on transformational leadership, which is viewed to be charismatic and visionary (Bass & Stedlmeier, 1999), and has been theorized to influence the follower’s performance motivation, sense of purpose, and self awareness (Bass, 1985; Bass and Avolio, 1993). This view has been strongly supported by Bass, Daniel and Tucker (1992), who in their research analyzing university principals, found that transformational leadership not only had an impact in job satisfaction, but also performance. Ozaralli (2003) who in investigating transformational leadership in respect to team effectiveness and leadership also concluded that transformative leadership strongly contributed to employee empowerment and team efficiency.
Studies relating leadership styles to team effectiveness have consistently arrived at the same solution; that transformational leadership is a more determinant of effectiveness than are other leadership styles. For instance Organ (1998) in his empirical analysis found that the relationship between role performance and transformational leadership was higher than that between role performance and transactional leadership. Sosik, Avolio and Khakai (1997) and Dione et al (2004) found similar results when relating the leadership styles to team effectiveness, where transformational leadership is deemed more influential and effective.
The essence of transformational leadership rests on Bass and Stedlmeier (1999), Bass (1995) and Bass and Avolio (1993) theoretical constructs. Based on these researches, it can be noted that transformational leadership has four dimensions: these are: Inspirational motivation, where the leader effectively communicates a vision; Charisma, where that leader instills pride respect, faith and a sense of mission and visions in the team; Intellectual stimulation, where the leaders provides challenging new ideas motivating deep thinking and reasoning in the team; and individual consideration, where the leader coaches, delegates duties to stimulate learning, and encourages feedback while treating everyone in the team as an individual. These form the critical basis upon which transformation leadership is based.
Keeping in line with these theoretical bases Keller (2006) and Piccolo and Colquitt (2006) found that transformational leadership are more innovative and encourage a more positive team environment leading to effective working team environment. Given these theoretical underpinnings, this research expects that transformational leadership will have a more positive impact on team effectiveness than other leadership styles for leaders in transition.
Leadership transition
Faced with increased global competition, structural realignments, strategic change, and continued innovation, many organizations are increasingly tapping into available leadership talent and pool (Flynn & Thompson, 2010). Increased leadership renewal has increased the awareness of issues surrounding leadership transition costs and successes, and more importantly, on factors that play a key role in leadership transition success or failure (Conger, 2010; Avolio, 2010). Indeed Appelbaum, Molson and Valero (2007) acknowledge that the first three months of a leader’s appointment are often crucial, as small actions of the leader often have significant impacts to an organization. In their research survey, they found that “being isolated” was the most critical mistake that a leader in transition could possibly make.
On the other hand Manderscheid (2008) found that often as leaders’ transition into new leadership roles in an organization, there are usually few formal interventions undertaken by the organization. An example includes leadership assimilation, which seeks to help in the transition process and build a relationship faster with their new teams. Further, more research documenting leadership transition has been found to be sparse and lacking, with only a few research having focused on strategies to be employed in transitioning a leader (Denis, Langley and Pineault, 2000; Downey, 2002: Manderscheid, 2008; Manderscheid & Ardichvili, 2008). Notably, assimilation models for leaders have been developed to help the leaders not only adapt to their new working environment but also adapt quickly and build a relationship with their new teams (Manderscheid, 2008).
Connecting newly appointed leaders to the leadership styles they adopt, it is noted that a leadership style that enables the capability of the followers to be motivated, inspired and have a positive view and vision of the change in the organization, is cited as one of the best approaches to be taken by new leaders (Thompson & Flynn, 2011). In Manderscheid and Ardichvili (2008), strategies in handling transitions note that the leadership style adopted by a new leader relative to previous leadership style have an important role in the success of the transition. Watkins (2004) builds on this by noting that building credible momentum during the first ninety days by developing virtuous cycle of credibility is critical in ensuring success of leadership transitions. They note that an engaging, leadership style, where the leader is able to clearly share the vision for what is to be achieved, is imperative in ensuring the success of any new transitioning leader.
Methodological Approach & Research Design
This research will use a quantitative, non-experimental design to examine the relationship between leadership style and team effectiveness for new leaders in professional knowledge-based work teams. In this quantitative research design will be correlational where a cross sectional research survey data on leadership style and team effectiveness for new leaders will be analyzed. This quantitative research design is appropriate as the study is to test the hypothesis (Byman and Bell, 2003) that transformational leadership and team effectiveness are positively correlated among new leaders.
Quantitative research involves the use of mathematical and statistical computations to explain the relationship between variables. Theories and models are developed to measure variables. Data is presented in the form of numerals, percentages and other statistical measures (Byman and Bell, 2003). Quantitative research is appropriate for this research because the purpose of this study is to predict the behaviour of certain variables. Secondly, there is need to test the hypothesis in the study. Therefore, hypothesis testing can only be tested using quantitative research. It is worth noting that qualitative research is not applicable because it involves conducting exploratory analysis. Thirdly, the data collected is in the form of numbers, and this can only be analyzed using quantitative analysis. Lastly, objective measurements were required to address the research questions. This is opposed to the subjective individual interpretation about the research questions.
The correlational analysis was conducted because the author wanted to examine relationships between variables as they naturally occur. It is also worth noting that it is not possible to manipulate leadership style. Lastly, an experimental or quasi-experimental design would have be appropriate if the author designed an intervention to improve transformational leadership and wanted to examine its effects on team effectiveness.
Sources of Information & Measurement Plan
The participants for study will be around 100 managers enrolled in executive MBA programs at four reputable business schools with at least three subordinate direct reports under them. Students enrolled in executive MBA program often works concurrently as managers in various organizations. They need to be working in teams and also need to have been in leadership position for less than two years. These leaders will be sourced from four different business schools. This measurement tool though not widely used, has been successfully validated by Appelbaum, Molson and Valero’s (2007) research study which used it in analyzing critical factors impacting new leaders’ success. In addition, three subordinates of each manager will be contacted through email provided by the manager to further provide insight on team effectiveness.
In this research, the key instrument used to measure transformation leadership will be based Bass and Avolio’s (1990) twelve-point item multifactor leadership questionnaire (MLQ) as adopted from Hoffman, Bynum, Piccolo, and Sutton (2011). This measurement tool has been used widely in leadership research and is deemed as the best validated measure in leadership research (Ozaralli, 2003). This instrument captures all four dimensions of transformational leadership, that is inspirational, charismatic, intellectual stimulation and individualized personalization where the participant will asked to rank how frequently each of the above behaviours were displayed by their manager, while managers were also asked to rank how frequently they displayed the behaviour on a five point Likert scale.
Team effectiveness will be measured based on Team Effectiveness Inventory (TEI) (West et al, 2004; Gibney, 2006) twenty point scale measuring the perceptions of team member concerning how effective their work groups are based on team communication, team mission, team empowerment, goal achievement, and team cooperation based on a five point Likert scale from 1=strongly disagree to 5=Strongly Agree. This measurement has been widely used to measure to evaluate team effectiveness (Benson and Rice, 2009). In addition, demographic data to be gathered will include gender, age, and work experience.
Data Collection Plan
The key method through which data will be collected will be through survey research in order to reach out to a wider participant population (Bryman and Bell, 2003). In completing this research study, primary data will be gathered through questionnaires from managers enrolled in executive MBA at four universities, and from their subordinates. The MBA students would be emailed invitations for the survey where they will have to click on a link to access the survey questions. They would also be requested to provide at least three emails of their subordinates. The subordinates will also be invited to take part in the survey through email where they would be able to click on a link that give them access to the survey.
Data Analysis Plan
The data collected will be analyzed quantitatively. Measures of central tendency such as mean and median will be used to analyze the attributes of the sample under study such as mean age of participants and their stand deviations. In analyzing the data, a multiple regression analysis will be carried out in analysing transformational leadership, leader’s ratings for team effectiveness and subordinate ratings, to understand how all these variables relate with team effectiveness as measured the average of both subordinates and leaders ratings for team effectiveness. An F test will be carried out at 95% level of significance to test the null hypothesis that transformational leadership and success in leadership transition has no significant relationship to team effectiveness as depicted by from both the leader’s and subordinates viewpoint. The null hypothesis will be rejected if F statistic is greater than the critical F obtained. In order to ensure that each variable has a relationship with team effectiveness, a t-test will be done on each of the independent data sets to see if these have a relation to team effectiveness.
Significance / Potential Contributions
This research study is important as it not only provides insight to leaders in transition, but also adds insight and knowledge to the sparse literature on leadership transition. The conclusions from the research would serve as a base for further research in the area and would also provide a point of reference for scholars.
Ethical Considerations
In carrying out this research study, a number of ethical considerations will be put in mind. First and foremost, the confidentiality of both the University from which data is obtained and the participants of the study will be upheld. No information that may identify the company will be provided. The participants will voluntarily participate in the study with no mention to anyone of their choice to participate. In addition, the emails for the subordinates obtained from the managers will be held in strict confidentiality, and carefully disposed of after the research. The managers will also not be told whether or not their subordinates chose to participate in the study.
Expected Outcome
In this research it is predicted that there is a positive relationship between transformational leadership style among leaders in transition and team effectiveness. From this prediction, it is expected that transformational leadership contributes highly to smooth leadership transition and team effectiveness.
Limitations and implications of the Study
It is not possible to explore and reach out to all new leaders since they may be dispersed widely, yet they may also be scarce. The executive MBA students are strategically used as the probability of coming across new leaders in this population with less than two years’ experience in leadership position is high since most would seeks to enhance their leadership skills in school. In this sense, this limitation is minimized. These new leaders would not be representative new leaders not pursuing education, and thus, findings could not generalize to all new leaders. In addition, the research study will cover only specific geographic regions within the UK and may therefore not be representative of all geographic regions and especially the global environment. Though the study is limited by these constraints, the results could have important practical implications to the new leaders on whether it is advisable to adopt transformational leadership with a new team for optimal team effectiveness.
Personal Reflections & Insights           
Conducting research in this topic would not only prove to be insightful, but also help in deeply understanding the intricacies that connect transformational leadership to successful leadership transitions and team effectiveness. A lot of leadership research have mainly focused on transformational leadership as the ultimate all performing style for team effectiveness, but how does this apply to new leaders who are faced with new teams and need to probably bring a new way of doing things? Does transformation leadership transcend all the challenges that new leaders face to enable effective team performance. And to what degree does transformation leadership help leaders in attaining team effectiveness, while at the same time attaining a smooth transition? Such reflections are what drives this research study, and understanding whether transformation leadership is associated with smooth transitioning and team effectiveness is essential in further developing best practices on how new leaders need to approach leadership. All in all, I do hope to gain insight on how to effectively approach a new leadership environment after completing this research.

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