A Contingency Model of Leadership and Follower Self Esteem Leadership Essay

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This article provides the findings of a study that sought to examine how leadership and follower characteristics influence self leadership behaviour in followers. Two hypotheses were formulated: H1) empowering leadership positively influences self leadership behaviour in followers with a high need for autonomy; and H2) directive leadership negatively influences self leadership behaviour in followers with a high need for autonomy. Longitudinal data was collected from a large defence company with operations in the U.S. The data was collected at two points in time with an interval of 10 weeks. At Time 1, the sample comprised 404 followers in 75 groups, while Time 2 involved 313 followers in 72 groups.

Employing hierarchical linear modelling, the study found that follower self leadership behaviour was substantially influenced by both empowering and directive leadership styles as well as follower’s desire for independence. More specifically, a leadership style in which the leader empowered followers was found to have a strong positive effect on followers who had a strong need for autonomy. This relationship is depicted in Table II, which shows a positive correlation between empowering leadership and the need for autonomy (correlation coefficient = 0.11). This led to the confirmation of H1. On the contrary, as shown in Table II, a directive leadership style was found to have a strong negative impact on followers with a strong desire for autonomy (correlation coefficient = –0.04). This led to the confirmation of H2.

Essentially, the study established that the effect of leadership style on self leadership behaviour among followers was contingent on the degree to which followers desired autonomy. This is to mean that though the behaviour of a leader (leadership context) generally influences self leadership behaviour, the influence of empowering leadership is stronger when followers have a high need for autonomy. That is, empowering leadership is likely to produce little or no self leadership behaviour if the follower is not interested in autonomy. Therefore, follower characteristics can be crucial aspects in contingency leadership theories such as situational leadership theory, Fiedler’s contingency theory, and path-goal theory. Yun, Cox & Sims’s (2006) findings have important implications for practice. Self leadership is a product of not only the context of leadership (extrinsic factors), but also individual characteristics (intrinsic factors). Accordingly, it is imperative for organisations to cultivate an empowering leadership style, which can in turn enhance self leadership behaviour amongst followers.

Empowering leadership is a style of leadership in which leaders empower followers or subordinates to take initiative and to attain high performance. In other words, leaders delegate more decision authority to their followers. An empowering leader places emphasis on self influence as opposed to providing orders and instructions. Empowering leadership can as well be referred to as self directed, self regulated, or self-managed leadership (Yun, Cox & Sims, 2006). Self leadership means that individuals have the ability to control their own behaviours and thought processes – they influence themselves to initiate action. Follower empowerment confers an important advantage: it serves as a source of intrinsic motivation in the sense that followers gain a sense of personal fulfilment.

It should, however, be noted that not every employee yearns for empowerment – some employees want empowerment and others do not. This argument arises from the contingency theory of leadership, which asserts that no single leadership style is fit for all situations or circumstances. In other words, a given style of leadership that works in a certain situation or for a given group of people may not necessarily work for another. For this reason, leadership behaviour may often vary from one situation to another. For instance, empowering leadership tends to be appropriate for less structured situations, while directive leadership is often suitable for more complex situations (Yun, Cox & Sims, 2006). Also, whether a leader applies empowering or directive leadership may be dependent on the characteristics of the follower such as level of competence. Indeed, follower characteristics at the individual level potentially comprise a vital contingency factor as far as leadership is concerned.

An important individual characteristic that may affect leadership behaviour is the need for autonomy. The need for autonomy often reflects an individual’s personality, character, or preferences. For instance, an individual who yearns for autonomy tends to be eager or enthusiastic to take initiative. Differences in the need for autonomy amongst individuals have implications for the influence of leadership. In a situation where a follower has a high need for autonomy, the influence of empowering leadership is likely to be stronger compared to a situation where a follower has a lower or no need for autonomy (Yun, Cox & Sims, 2006).

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In other words, follower self leadership behaviour is likely be more evident when the follower has a strong desire for independence.

The major contribution of Yun, Cox & Sims’s (2006) article to practice is the insistence on the need for leaders to understand the characteristics of their followers. While empowering leadership is arguably one of the most effective leadership styles, leaders must recognise that the style may not always be effective. More specifically, the style may not work if followers do not have an inherent desire for autonomy. If followers have a high need for autonomy, then applying empowering leadership would be appropriate. Without this knowledge, leaders may be frustrated by failed attempts to empower their subordinates.

But how can organisational leaders establish whether or not their followers desire autonomy. According to Yun, Cox & Sims (2006, p. 383), this is “a matter of common sense.” Yet, it may not always be easy to understand follower characteristics. An effective way would be to evaluate followers’ need for autonomy during the recruitment process. The selection process gives the employer a chance to evaluate not only the qualifications of candidates, but also their personality traits. If a candidate’s need for autonomy is established at the point of recruitment, it can more readily be determined whether empowering leadership would work or not.

Evaluating followers’ need for self leadership during the selection process would also enable leaders, managers, and supervisors to assign tasks to their subordinates more effectively. For instance, individuals with a high need for autonomy would be assigned tasks that require a high degree of self initiative. Equally, tasks that require little or no self initiative would be assigned to individuals with little or no desire for self leadership. This understanding can have positive impacts on employee outcomes such as job satisfaction, morale, loyalty, and organisational commitment, ultimately benefiting the organisation in terms of productivity and performance. All in all, the importance of forging empowering leadership in an organisation cannot be overemphasised. An empowering leadership creates a climate in which followers who desire autonomy have an opportunity to showcase their need for self control, subsequently ensuring an atmosphere in which they can put their best fruit forth.

In spite of usefulness of this study, there is an important shortcoming: the study pays little or no attention to the influence of other individual characteristics (e.g. self actualisation and growth needs), group-level characteristics (e.g. group conflict and group cohesion), as well as environmental characteristics (e.g. changes in the organizational environment) that may also influence self leadership behaviour. Future research should provide more knowledge on these aspects. Even so, the longitudinal nature of the research makes it possible for the reader to infer causality, thereby enhancing the study’s internal and external validity. The relatively large sample used also adds to the generalisability of the study.


The aim of this controlled cross-sectional study was to examine the impact of two sales promotion tools (free gifts and price discounts) on brand image as well as the mediating role of promotional benefit level and brand awareness level. The survey was administered to 635 students drawn from a business administration institute in Syria. The researcher formulated five hypotheses: H1) the positive impact of free gifts on brand image is greater than that of price discounts; H2) the impact of price discounts on brand image will be stronger at a high promotional benefit level compared to free gifts; H3) the effect of price discounts and free gits on brand image is the same at moderate promotional benefit levels; H4) at low brand awareness levels, brand image is higher for price discounts compared to free gifts; and H5) at high brand awareness levels, brand image is higher for premiums than for free gifts.

Promotional benefit level denotes consumers’ level of processing information with respect to a given promotion (Allaham, 2015). For instance, consumers are less likely to process promotional information extensively when offered low price discounts as they may perceive the promotion to be of little monetary value. Nonetheless, consumers are more likely to process information more extensively when offered high or moderate discounts due to the uncertainty that often clouds such deals. The mediating role of brand awareness was examined because the impact….....

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Allaham, M. (2015). The effect of sales promotion tools on brand image. International Journal of Business Management Invention, 4(2), 52-58.

Yun, S., Cox, J., & Sims, H. (2006). The forgotten follower: a contingency model of leadership and follower self-leadership. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21(4), 374-388.

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