Transformational Leadership and Innovative Work Behavior of Employees: Two Sides of the Story

Transformational Leadership and Innovative Work Behavior of Employees: Two Sides of the Story

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-6732-9.ch014
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


Organizations need to innovate to stay relevant, for example, through the innovative work behavior of employees. Previous studies highlighted how different innovative phases may require other leadership behavior. In the present study, the authors aim to discover which type of transformational leadership behaviour best encourages employees in which innovative phase, both from the perspective of the manager and the employee. They conducted interviews with 42 leaders and 43 followers within four innovative companies in the e-tailing sector. They use thematic analysis and quantisization of the data. The results show that not every subcomponent of transformational leadership has the same influence on each phase of innovative work behavior, nor with the same magnitude. The most prevalent relationship is between intellectual stimulation and idea generation. They report specific actions by leaders that promote innovative work behavior in followers.
Chapter Preview

Introduction And Background

Our world is changing due to evolutions in technology, economic struggles, and global competition. This has led to changes in the nature of work (Burke & Ng, 2006). One-way companies can surpass this changing world and maintain their competitiveness is by being innovative (Dess & Pickens, 2001; Deprez, Peeters, & Gorgievski, 2021). Research has shown that organizations which engage in technological change, grow faster than organizations which do not and that profit margins in organizations are related to creativity and innovation (Nystrom, 1990). Thus, the more innovative organizations are, the better they perform and grow and the more profitable they are. De Jong and Den Hartog (2007) pointed out that, instead of focusing all their effort on their R&D departments, organizations can be more innovative if they also invest in their employees’ innovative capabilities. Employees can help their organizations move in a new and innovative direction by generating ideas and implementing them in the form of new products or services. Innovation cannot happen without the creation of new ideas, and these ideas are created, shaped, promoted, and implemented by people (Van de Ven, 1986). This view, stating that individual innovative effort leads to more organizational innovativeness, is proclaimed by several researchers (e.g., Amabile, 1988; Unsworth & Parker, 2003). Therefore, it is important to understand what influences the emergence of such innovative work behavior. In this study we investigate how leaders can promote innovative work behavior in their followers through transformational leadership.

Leaders play a crucial role in the life of their followers (Robijn et al., 2020). Leadership is found to have an influence on innovative efforts of employees (Mumford, Scott, Gaddis, and Strange, 2002; Deprez, Euwema, 2017). However, in their meta-analysis, Rosing et al. (2011) find support for the hypothesis that transformational leadership in particular has a positive effect on innovative work behavior. In spite of the high positive correlation, they point out the high degree of variation in the results, depending on the dependent variable, level of analysis and so on. Therefore, they stress the importance of further research into these variables, like the specific influence of transformational leadership on the sub-dimensions of innovative work behavior. In this study we follow Scott and Bruce (1994) stating that innovative work behavior constitutes of three distinct tasks: idea generation, idea promotion and idea implementation. Individual innovative work behavior starts with the formation of a novel idea, the idea generation phase. This is most of the time in response to something that is not going well in the workplace, possible problems or incongruities. The next phase is described as the promotion of this novel idea. To make it happen, sponsors are needed to provide the necessary support for the innovation (Galbraith, 1982). To finalize the innovative work behavior process, idea implementation is in place where the novel idea is implemented in a role, group or organization. Each of these subphases should have appropriate leadership behaviors addressing them, to best aid employee innovative behaviors. However, which exact behaviors these are, is still unclear.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Individual Consideration: One of the factors of transformational leadership. Depicts the level of personal attention that a leader has for their followers. More specifically, leaders scoring high on this will listen to concerns and needs and work at addressing them.

Innovative Work Behavior: The behavior that employees demonstrate at work, which results in the creation of new or improved products, processes and/or procedures.

Idea Generation: One of the subphases of innovative work behavior. Consists of the initial steps taken in the innovative process, in which people come up with new ideas in a creative way.

Transformational Leadership: One of the most well-known leadership styles globally. Views a leader as being charismatic, inspiring and motivating, and providing intellectual stimulation and attention to individual followers.

Idea Promotion: One of the subphases of innovative work behavior. After new ideas are generated, an employee will take his/her best ideas and try to gather support for them throughout the organization. This process will ensure sufficient resources to be able to progress to the implementation phase.

Idealized Influence: One of the factors of transformational leadership. Describes those who are acting like exemplary and ethical role models for their followers. These leaders instill pride, and gain respect and trust.

Intellectual Stimulation: One of the factors of transformational leadership. The degree to which a leader challenges and encourages creativity and critical thinking in their followers. Leaders scoring high on this will often ask their followers to reflect on their work.

Inspirational Motivation: One of the factors of transformational leadership. These leaders are seen as charismatic, they can create an enticing picture of the future and strategic plans and as such give a big sense of purpose to their followers.

Idea Implementation: One of the subphases of innovative work behavior. Is the final phase of the innovative process in which an idea is put into practice/use in an organization.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: