Leaders and Followers: The Leadership Style Perceived in Modern Organizations

Leaders and Followers: The Leadership Style Perceived in Modern Organizations

Paula Figueiredo, Maria José Sousa
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8637-3.ch009
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This study aims to address the perspectives of leaders and followers regarding their perception of leadership styles adopted in various daily situations in organizations. Leaders and followers perceive that the predominant style is the Transformational Leadership. In order to understand the types of competences to be developed by leaders to enhance the different leadership styles, it appears that emotional competencies related to Relationship Management are those that have a linear relationship with transformational leadership. The Relationship Management is the ability to deal with the emotions of others and is composed of social competences, including Inspiration, Influence, Develop others and Change catalyst. According to both perspectives, these competences are also the least practiced by leaders in organizations.
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By analyzing the leadership theories it appears that there is an evolution in the approach of leadership style; the existence of a unique leadership style for all situations evolved into a multitude of styles according to the situation, the characteristics of the followers and the results to be obtained. Despite being able to identify leadership styles for each theory, the leadership only becomes effective when it is accepted by followers. Thus, it is pressing to analyze the leadership style perceived by both leaders and followers. Currently, in a context of scarcity of leaders, the question that arises is: ‘To Grow or Buy Leaders?’ i.e., develop leaders internally or hire outside the organization (Ingraham, 2006, 376). Assuming that leadership development is a differentiating factor of organizations, leaders are increasingly realizing the importance of promoting the development of leadership within their organizations (Figueiredo, 2012, 117). However, there is a new challenge for organizations - What kind of leader competences are needed for development? It is essential to define the competencies that a leader needs to develop; only in this way your behavior pattern is more effective among their followers and contributes not only to personal success as organizational. The purpose of this research is to analyze the leadership style perceived by leaders and followers. Both perceptions improve the leader’s knowledge on the leadership process; thus, the leader gets more information about the impact of their leadership in their followers. According to Hollander, “leader action or inaction can have multiple effects on other people, not only in the success of the enterprise, but also in the ‘social health’ of a group, organization, or larger entity, including a nation.” (Hollander, 1992, 43) Specifically in the field of the leader’s competences, knowledge of the perception of followers contributes to the success or failure of leadership; knowledge sharing facilitates and improves the development of leader competences and, ultimately, the leadership development in the organizational context.

In the Figueiredo’s study (2012) was found that transformational leadership style is prevalent when perceived by the leaders. Given the assumptions of situational theory which states that leadership has to be accepted by the followers, the specific objectives of the study are: i) Identify the leadership style perceived by the leaders; ii) Identify the 5 most and least prevalent leader competences in the leader’s perspective; iii) Identify the leadership style perceived by followers; iv) Identify the 5 most and least prevalent leader competences in the followers’ perspective; and, v) Check which competences are associated with each leadership style - transformational, transactional and laissez-faire - from both perspectives.

The research methodology is a case study in a national franchise network. The justification for this choice are the network characteristics and their size because it reflects the corporate structure of the country - 96% are micro companies (fewer than 10 employees) and employ approximately 44.5% of active population.1 In June 2012, the franchise network was made up of 93 leaders, called Franchisee and 69 units employing 430 workers. Leaders and followers were submitted to questionnaires with 3 distinct parts which are as follows: i) Characterization of the leader / follower profile; ii) Leader competences assessed by the leader / follower; iii) Leadership style perceived by the leader / follower. In the questionnaire, the competences used refer to the emotional intelligence model created by Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee. The analysis of the perception of leadership styles is done through the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ),2 created by Bass and Avolio. The data obtained from the questionnaires were statistically analyzed using SPSS software version 18.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Franchise: Is a management strategy in partnership, where a company (Franchisor) creates a business concept and, therefore, owns the rights, knowledge and practices. This company sells to other entities (Franchisee), the right to use its business concept by providing the know-how and training.

Transformational Leadership: Is a leadership style based on the leader’s charisma, in its concern to inspire and motivate others and in their willingness to encourage personal and professional development of its followers.

Emotional Intelligence: Is the ability to manage their own emotions and the emotions of others in order to achieve the proposed objectives.

Leader: Leader is someone who has the ability to influence, share and inspire their vision on others; others live and feel this vision as their own.

Leadership: Is a process of reciprocal influence between the leader and the follower.

Competence: Is the ability to blend their knowledge, attitudes and skills in performing a task or function.

Follower: Is someone who is available to help, collaborate and move towards common goals.

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