A major problem in research and theory on effective leadership has been the lack of agreement on which leadership styles are relevant to organizations. Despite more than half a century of research on leadership styles, there is no integrating leadership theory. It is very difficult to compare and integrate the results of previous empirical studies that use different descriptions of behavior. Therefore, the first goal of the CoLeS project is to compare and contrast the currently prevalent leadership styles (i.e., transactional, transformational, ethical, laissez-faire, initiation structure and consideration, and leader-member exchange). Can these leadership styles be distinguished empirically (i.e., through factor analyses)? How do these leadership styles affect outcome criteria (i.e., affective commitment, job satisfaction)? To control for the effect of liking (i.e., positive affect), this construct will be controlled for in all analyses. The outcome of this part of the project will be a condensed set of effective leadership styles based on empirical data.
The second goal of the CoLeS project is to systematically assess the impact of contextual influences on leader effectiveness. Examples of contextual factors include the gender of the leader, the size of the organization, the distance of followers from the leader, and the heterogeneity of the team. Which of these contextual factors moderate the relationship between leadership styles and outcome criteria? While theoretical work has emphasized the importance of contextual factors within leadership research (e.g., situational constraints on leadership effectiveness), empirical research is scarce. Overall, it is hoped that the condensed set of leadership factors and the systematic assessment of contextual factors will lead to advances in leadership theory.
The following reports present initial empirical results from the CoLeS project. Each of these reports summarizes the results from an independent empirical sample.