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Leadership Styles and Employee Expectations

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  • Bydgoszcz University of Science and Technology, Bydgoszcz, Poland

Abstract and Figures

Purpose: The article presents an analysis of management styles and their importance in shaping employees' expectations towards their superior in the company. The article aims to show the relationship between the company's leadership style and the expectations of employees regarding the performance of tasks. Design/Methodology/Approach: The study is based on a literature review and empirical research results carried out among 185 employees from 10 European companies operating in different sectors. The chi-square (χ2) statistics were used to investigate the relationships between the variables analyzed, while the V-Cramer and Pearson's C (contingency) coefficients were used to determine the relationship's strength. Findings: Based on the analysis, subordinates build their expectations associated with their tasks' performance and with the leader based on his/her leadership style. When leaders implement a situational management style, employees expect full freedom of choice regarding how to carry out tasks. However, when the superior represents an autocratic style, employees expect guidelines regarding the performance of tasks rather but do not want their work to be constantly controlled. The analysis also included the relationships between the analyzed data and the variables describing the employee's position, a type of company, sex, education, and seniority. Practical Implications: The results demonstrate that personality, qualifications, values, and management style of leaders affect both the current operations and long-term success of employees and the entire organization. This analysis helped determine the desired characteristics, competencies, and character profile of contemporary leaders. Originality/Value: The analysis allowed identifying the trends of changes in contemporary leaders' approaches in terms of their characteristics and style. Therefore, the study offers a valuable review of a wide range of issues related to leaders' characteristics, and it contributes to our understanding of the specificity of leadership in the business environment.
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European Research Studies Journal
Volume XXIII, Special Issue 1, 2020 pp. 398-411
Leadership Styles and Employee Expectations
Submitted 30/08/20, 1st revision 23/09/20, 2nd revision 17/10/20, accepted 05/11/20
Rafał Drewniak
1
, Zbigniew Drewniak
2
, Iwona Posadzinska
3
Abstract:
Purpose: The article presents an analysis of management styles and their importance in
shaping employees' expectations towards their superior in the company. The article aims to
show the relationship between the company's leadership style and the expectations of
employees regarding the performance of tasks.
Design/Methodology/Approach: The study is based on a literature review and empirical
research results carried out among 185 employees from 10 European companies operating
in different sectors. The chi-square (χ2) statistics were used to investigate the relationships
between the variables analyzed, while the V-Cramer and Pearson's C (contingency)
coefficients were used to determine the relationship's strength.
Findings: Based on the analysis, subordinates build their expectations associated with their
tasks' performance and with the leader based on his/her leadership style. When leaders
implement a situational management style, employees expect full freedom of choice
regarding how to carry out tasks. However, when the superior represents an autocratic style,
employees expect guidelines regarding the performance of tasks rather but do not want their
work to be constantly controlled. The analysis also included the relationships between the
analyzed data and the variables describing the employee's position, a type of company, sex,
education, and seniority.
Practical Implications: The results demonstrate that personality, qualifications, values, and
management style of leaders affect both the current operations and long-term success of
employees and the entire organization. This analysis helped determine the desired
characteristics, competencies, and character profile of contemporary leaders.
Originality/Value: The analysis allowed identifying the trends of changes in contemporary
leaders' approaches in terms of their characteristics and style. Therefore, the study offers a
valuable review of a wide range of issues related to leaders' characteristics, and it
contributes to our understanding of the specificity of leadership in the business environment.
Keywords: Leadership style, inter-organizational relations, employee expectations.
JEL codes: M12, D84, D91.
Paper type: Research article.
Acknowledgements: Research financed by: National Science Centre, Poland, research
project no 2017/25/B/HS4/02135, Relational competencies in creating enterprise value. The
role of leadership and communication in managing relationships with the environment.
1
UTP University of Science and Technology in Bydgoszcz, Faculty of Management, Poland,
rafal.drewniak@utp.edu.pl;
2
Corresponding author, UTP University of Science and Technology in Bydgoszcz, Faculty of
Management, Poland, zbigniew.drewniak@utp.edu.pl;
3
UTP University of Science and Technology in Bydgoszcz, Faculty of Management, Poland,
iwona.posadzinska@utp.edu.pl;
R. Drewniak, Z. Drewniak, I. Posadzińska
399
1. Introduction
Recently, researchers and management theoreticians have demonstrated a growing
interest in leadership, in particular about the impact of management styles
ineffective stimulation of employee engagement (Posadzińska et al., 2020; Lord et
al., 2017; Hunter et al., 2013; Wang et al., 2011; Karaszewski, 2010). The
importance of employee expectations towards leaders and the factors fostering
positive relations between employees is emphasized (Drewniak et al., 2020; Den
Hartog and Belschak, 2012; Herold et al., 2008). This article analyses employees'
expectations regarding their leader in the company, based on the implemented
management style. This analysis provides answers to the research question about the
role and importance of leadership style in fostering employee engagement and
contributing to pro-developmental employee behavior and increased engagement.
The studies exploring leadership in an organization are largely fragmentary. There is
no homogeneous framework for the issues regarding various areas of company's
activity, and the analyzed domains differ, so research results refer either to the
individual, collective, organizational or social domain (Lord et al., 2017; Dinh et al.,
2014; Meuser et al., 2016). The article aims to fill this gap, at least partially, by
demonstrating the essence and importance of leadership in shaping and stimulating
employee engagement. The analyzed problem can also be defined as actions or
behaviors that leaders undertake to introduce changes in a given group (Robertson et
al., 2012; Drewniak, 2017). Looking at the problem from a different perspective,
one can see that the discussed issue also involves a specific strength of relations,
human bonds between leaders and their followers (Cianci et al., 2014; Carsten et al.,
2018).
People have been interested in and fascinated by the concept of leadership for a long
time. Having a new leader is always a welcome prospect, inspiring hopes for a
change in employees, and perceived by them as a potential cure for recurring
problems. Researchers and management theoreticians have recently demonstrated a
growing interest in the issues associated with leadership and the factors that
determine its effectiveness (Schnurr and Schroeder, 2019). Researchers emphasize
the importance of a broad spectrum of positive leadership factors (Landells and
Albrecht, 2017; Wang et al., 2014). However, these are determined by the
organization's specificity its structure, power distribution, local arrangements, etc. In
other words, leadership should not be studied on its own, but always in the context
in which it appears. Current theories on leadership focus mainly on the leader's
performance within the company structure, implementation of the company's future
vision, personal traits, and active engagement of employees in the process. This
paradigm belongs to the Transformation Era in leadership development (Van Seters
and Field, 1990). Tichy and Devanna (1996), proponents of transformational
leadership theory, stressed the initial role of creating perspectives and assigning
roles to allow employees to be fully involved in achieving the company's goals.
Today, the trend has been extended to include suggestions for inducing positive
Leadership Styles and Employee Expectations
400
expectations among employees as well. Undoubtedly, leadership is a complex
process involving relational, situational, and behavioral aspects (House and Aditya,
1997).
Various researchers - economists, political scientists, sociologists, psychologists, and
philosophers - explore leadership and leadership styles in an organization.
Regardless of the kind of activity, the specificity of the industry or type of
organization, the leader bears most responsibility for the obtained results. The
behavior of employees can reveal a lot about the leadership style adopted by central
management. Personality, qualifications, and values of the people at the top of the
company significantly affect both its current operations and long-term development
(Słupska et al., 2020).
2. Theoretical Background
Positive emotions experienced by employees determine creative processes in an
organization. Such emotions stimulate and motivate staff to seek excellence, foster
performance-oriented attitudes, allow employees to broaden their horizons, and
implement creative experimenting. Also, outstanding performance helps employees
meet their personal goals and aspirations, promoting the entire organization's
development (Roberts, 2007). This results in an "upward spiral": positive emotions
increase engagement, conducive to higher effectiveness of the entire organization,
which reinforces positive emotions in employees (Fredrickson, 2003). Positive
Organisational Scholarship focuses on studies regarding positive relationships,
personal development and well-being of employees (Bono et al., 2012), positive
leadership (Cameron, 2012), and on practices associated with human resources
management that promote positive phenomena in organizations (Hall and Las Heras,
2012; Drewniak and Posadzińska, 2020). Significant correlations have been
demonstrated between the above aspects and outstanding performance in a company.
Researchers established that positive interpersonal relationships between employees
have positive effects on knowledge management (Davidson and James 2007;
Słupska et al., 2019) and increase productivity (Halbesleben, 2012), while positive
leadership stimulates motivation and engagement of employees (Donaldson-Feilder
et al., 2011).
Leadership may be perceived as one of the most extensively researched topics, yet it
remains among the least understood phenomena of our times (Posner, 2015;
Gandolfi and Stone, 2016; Ford and Harding, 2018). Undoubtedly, the leader's
personality, qualifications, and values affect both current performance and the long-
term attitudes of employees (Zigarmi et al., 2015). Numerous studies and extensive
subject literature offer deep insights into leadership and its effect on an
organization's success (Lord et al., 2017; Natalicchio et al., 2017; Parris and
Peachey, 2013; Posner, 2015; Karaszewski, 2010). Review studies, mostly using the
systematic literature review method (Gardner et al., 2020; Dinh et al., 2014;
Harrison et al., 2016; Landells and Albrecht, 2017; Oc, 2018; Yahaya and Ebrahim,
R. Drewniak, Z. Drewniak, I. Posadzińska
401
2016), explore the individual aspects associated with the importance of
characteristics of modern leaders, and the effectiveness of various leadership styles.
The most common leadership approaches presented in the form of a focal theory
include transformational leadership, charismatic leadership, strategic leadership,
leadership and diversity, participative/shared leadership, and trait leadership (Meuser
et al., 2016). Previous empirical studies cannot sufficiently explain the leadership
practices and their effects on intra-organizational relations or the effectiveness of
individual team management practices. The analysis must be extended to include the
relationships between a leadership style and the expectations of employees towards
the approach of the company leaders (Posadzińska et al., 2020). The factors that
increase employee engagement should also be explored. It is suggested that in-depth
research is required about the development of specific characteristics in corporate
leaders, as well as about the vision of leadership, communication associated with it,
and the areas of its implementation (McDermott et al., 2011; Landells and Albrecht,
2017; Oc, 2018). Such studies would significantly contribute to the existing
knowledge base.
Leadership is a combination of specific character traits and skills that help leaders
motivate and persuade others to perform certain tasks. They include enthusiasm,
willingness to lead, honesty and virtue, self-confidence, cognitive skills, and
understanding of the managed entity (Bass and Bass, 2008; Yahaya and Ebrahim,
2016). Leadership may also be understood as activities supporting individual team
members in achieving the assigned targets and expectations. Leaders are not always
convinced that they have the right arguments or that they can rationally present
them. In other words, a leader believes that certain actions need to be taken but may
struggle with communicating this conviction. Also, participation in the decision-
making process is very time-consuming and is not always met with all subordinates'
unanimous approval. Moreover, employees may be reluctant to undertake actions
that, in their opinion, are the responsibility of the leader. Thus, a leader can never be
certain that influencing subordinates the resulting actions will be compliant with
his/her original intention. Therefore, employees' professional satisfaction and
success in most cases depend on leadership styles (Zareen et al., 2014; Yahaya and
Ebrahim, 2016; Drewniak, 2017; Shazia et al., 2014).
The question of engaging employees includes the analysis and characteristics of the
factors affecting the level of employee engagement and its measurement (Drewniak,
2017). The key determinant of engagement is an employee's ability to manage the
assigned resources independently, which, in turn, determines the innovativeness of
his/her actions. However, it should be emphasized that, at present, the scope of
innovation is not limited to a product and its improvements. Increasingly often, it
applies to the processes, implemented concepts, and other organizational
modifications conducive to the enhancement of the enterprise (Drewniak and
Karaszewski, 2020). Engaged employees identify with the company, seek challenges
and ways to satisfy their professional aspirations, fulfil their duties, think
Leadership Styles and Employee Expectations
402
innovatively, and undertake actions that increase the entire enterprise's competitive
advantage. Such experience should be a source of internal satisfaction (Robertson et
al., 2012). Therefore, engagement in one's work consists of a positive approach to
duties, complete interest, and attention, characterized by devotion in the
performance of additional tasks, exceeding the formal scope duties included in the
job description.
The currently observed intensive interest in promoting employee engagement in the
development of company value results from the positive effect of engagement on
workforce productivity, social behaviors, and fostering positive relationships
(Drewniak et al., 2020), as well as on the increase of innovation and improvement of
the financial status of enterprises (Drewniak and Posadzińska, 2020).
Simultaneously, many other issues impact the effect of employee engagement on the
company's success. They include measures of engagement, correlation with
satisfaction with work and responsibility for the results, the effect of organizational
conditions: organizational culture, climate, level of teamwork in the organization
and others (Bakker et al., 2011; Neves and Caetano, 2009; Albrecht, 2010; Schaufeli
et al., 2006).
3. Methodology
The analysis was based on the data collected in empirical research conducted in
2019. The study involved employees of large international enterprises. The choice of
individual companies was dictated by their high potential for the development of
relational competencies. The analyzed enterprises comprised primarily production
and service companies representing internationally promising sectors. The study
sample was huge; in all but one of the studied companies, the headcount was
significantly over 250 employees. The data was collected through an online survey
questionnaire. We obtained 185 completed questionnaires (105 completed by men
and 80 completed by women). The respondents were mainly production workers,
administration employees, managers, and sales representatives.
The empirical research goal was to determine the correlations between leadership
styles and employee expectations regarding the degree of freedom in the
performance of tasks in the company. Also, the collected data allowed identifying
the determinants of employee engagement. The correlation analysis was applied to
determine the strength of the correlation between two qualitative characteristics. To
identify a relationship between these characteristics, the chi-square (χ2) test was
applied in the following form:
where:
R. Drewniak, Z. Drewniak, I. Posadzińska
403
r - number of feature Y variants,
r - number of feature X variants,
nij - empirical numbers for X variant and j-Y variant,
ij - theoretical numbers for i-th X variant and j-th Y variant.
The calculations were based on the cross tabulation (contingency table)
demonstrating numbers of individual variants of X and Y characteristics. Using chi-
squared test, the following hypotheses were analysed:
H0: the variables are independent;
H1: the variables are not independent.
P-value determines the statistical significance. When p < α, H0 is rejected, and the
alternative hypothesis is retained. This indicates a relationship between the variables.
If p > α, H0 is retained. It means that there is no correlation between the analysed
variables.
To determine the strength of the correlation, Cramer’s V coefficient and Pearson’s c
coefficient were determined. Cramer’s V coefficient is derived from:
where:
χ2 - calculated χ2 value,
n - number of all observations,
k - number of columns in the contingency table without total (number of variants of
the first characteristic),
k - number of verses in the contingency table without total (number of variants of
the second characteristic),
Pearson’s contingency coefficient is derived using the formula:
where:
χ2 - calculated χ2 value,
n - number of observations
Leadership Styles and Employee Expectations
404
The following conventional interpretation thresholds are adopted:
from 0.00 to 0.29 weak correlation between the variables;
from 0.30 to 0.49 moderate correlation between the variables;
from 0.50 to 1.00 strong correlation between the variables.
4. Findings
Table 1 presents individual variants' values regarding the expectations towards the
superior while performing a task and the leadership styles. Table 2 demonstrates the
results of the chi-square test. Table 3 shows the strength of correlations between the
variables. The chi-square coefficient was statistically significant. Therefore, we
reject H0 proposing a lack of correlation between the variables and accept the
alternative hypothesis. Thus, there is a statistically significant correlation between
the superior's expectations while performing a task and the leadership style. The
strength of this correlation was determined based on Cramer’s V and Pearson’s C
coefficients. They were both statistically significant. The value of coefficient V was
0.312, and for coefficient C - 0.404. Therefore, there is a moderate correlation
between the superior's expectations while performing a task and the leadership style.
The correlation is presented in Figure 1.
Table 1. Table presenting numbers for the variants of features: expectations
regarding the superior while performing a task and management style
Leadership style
1.
Autocratic
2.
Passive
3.
Democratic
4.
Situational
Total
Expectations
towards the
superior while
performing a task
1. Freedom of choice
5
4
20
41
70
2. Guidelines without
control
38
14
23
24
99
3. Precise command
4
4
1
7
16
47
22
44
72
185
Source: Authors’ calculations.
Table 2. Results of the chi-square test
Net
df
Asymptotic significance
(2-sided)
Pearson’s chi-square
36.011a
6
.000
Reliability coefficient
39.497
6
.000
Linear correlation test
19.401
1
.000
N valid observations
185
a. The expected size of 25.0% of the cells (3) is less than 5. The minimum expected size is
1.90.
Source: Authors’ calculations.
R. Drewniak, Z. Drewniak, I. Posadzińska
405
Table 3. Symmetrical measures
Value
Approximate
significance
Cramer’s V
.312
.000
Contingency coefficient
.404
.000
N valid observations
185
Source: Authors’ calculations.
Figure 1. Correlation between the expectations towards the superior while
performing tasks and the leadership style (N = 185)
Source: Authors’ calculations.
The analysis also included the relationship between the "leadership style and the
expectations towards the superior while performing tasks" variables and the
variables characterizing the employee's position expressing the opinion, the type of
enterprise, sex, education, and seniority. For nearly all the pairs of variables, the chi-
square test was statistically significant, so the analyzed pairs were correlated. In
most cases, Cramer's V and Pearson's C coefficients were also significant at α =
0.01. The correlations between the analyzed variables were mostly moderate. In the
case of the relationship between "position" and "leadership style," the correlation
was strong (Pearson's C > 0.5). A strongly moderate relationship between education
and leadership style perceived by the employees is noteworthy.
Table 4. Pearson’s chi-square values for individual pairs of variables
Leadership
style
Expectations
towards the
superior
Position
Pearson’s chi-square
66.62
36.11
Significance
p < 0.001
p < 0.001
Company
Pearson’s chi-square
32.55
19.40
Significance
p < 0.001
0.001
Sex
Pearson’s chi-square
24.32
5.40
Significance
p < 0.001
0.067
Leadership Styles and Employee Expectations
406
Education
Pearson’s chi-square
57.65
32.29
Significance
p < 0.001
p < 0.001
Seniority
Pearson’s chi-square
24.17
4.19
Significance
0.004
0.65
Expectations
towards the
superior
Pearson’s chi-square
36.01
-
Significance
p < 0.001
-
Source: Authors’ calculations.
Table 5. Cramer’s V and Pearson's C coefficients for individual pairs of variables
Leadership style
Expectations
Cramer’s V
Pearson’s C
Cramer’s V
Pearson’s C
Position
Index value
0.35
0.52
0.31
0.40
Significance
p < 0.001
p < 0.001
p < 0.001
p < 0.001
Company
Index value
0.30
0.39
0.23
0.31
Significance
p < 0.001
p < 0.001
0.001
0.001
Sex
Index value
0.36
0.34
0.17
0.17
Significance
p < 0.001
p < 0.001
0.067
0.067
Education
Index value
0.39
0.49
0.30
0.39
Significance
p < 0.001
p < 0.001
p < 0.001
p < 0.001
Seniority
Index value
0.21
0.34
0.11
0.15
Significance
0.004
0.004
0.65
0.65
Expectations
Index value
0.31
0.40
-
-
Significance
p < 0.001
p < 0.001
-
-
Source: Authors’ calculations.
5. Discussion
The data analysis in Figure 1 reveals that the employees expected freedom in the
performance of tasks, particularly when their superiors implemented a situational-
dependent leadership style. On the other hand, when leaders in the analyzed
companies implemented autocratic style, the employees expected instructions
regarding performing tasks, but without ongoing control over their work. Exact
instructions on how to perform tasks and continuous control of work were the least
expected, regardless of the management's leadership style.
It should be emphasized that administrative employees, sales representatives, and
managers with higher education expected situational leadership rather than a
democratic management style, whereas production workers and those with
vocational education pointed to autocratic style. This relationship confirms that
production workers should be assigned a strictly defined range of tasks and the ways
of completing them, whereas employees at higher positions expect a certain degree
of autonomy in performing their work. An interesting correlation between the
leadership style and seniority should be noted: the effect of situational leadership
style is directly proportionate to the seniority. The situation is similar to the
R. Drewniak, Z. Drewniak, I. Posadzińska
407
democratic leadership style; however, in the case of employees with work
experience of over 10 years, the autocratic style's importance decreases while that of
situational leadership increases. Certainly, leaders are inclined to demonstrate
greater trust and grant a higher degree of autonomy to employees' extensive
experience and longer seniority.
The data analysis reveals that regardless of the leadership style, employees formed
expectations towards their superior, such as the provision of guidelines as to how to
perform tasks, but on the other hand, they would not like their work to be constantly
supervised. It applies in particular to production workers. The expectation of exact
instructions regarding the performance of tasks allows to cede the responsibility to
the superior and contributes to a better organization of work time. A large number of
employees expected full autonomy in choosing their work methods. It was probably
associated with the complexity of their work and individual employees'
organizational structure and competencies.
Acting under time pressure and making quick decisions, necessary at this position,
justifies these expectations towards the superior. The employees in the survey
identified a variety of leadership styles implemented in their companies. They often
declared that superiors adjusted their management styles to individual situations,
considering the hierarchy of tasks, their complexity, or the employees' competence
performing the work. The passive leadership style was the least common one. The
way employees perceived the leadership style might differ from the superior's point
of view, which should be verified from the perspective of the effectiveness of
individual management styles.
The observed results may indicate that leaders in the analyzed companies prioritized
situational aspects of leadership, demonstrating the need to tailor their actions to the
circumstances. Therefore, the decisions taken by the leader must be constantly
adapted to the changing requirements. These findings demonstrate that leaders in the
researched enterprises took into consideration both the circumstances and the
dynamically changing expectations of their employees, which, in turn, shows that
the skills and motivation of employees changed with time. Therefore, the
combination of the directive (task-oriented) and supportive (relational) elements in
the leadership needs to be adapted on an ongoing basis to the situation's specificity.
The effectiveness of actions taken by the leader will depend directly on the accurate
composition of these elements. The directive aspect of a leadership style comprises
various forms of influencing employees to achieve the goal (e.g., assignment of
tasks, determination of assessment methods, the definition of roles, presenting
schedules for task performance, etc.). The supportive actions introduce a relaxed
atmosphere, contribute to the sense of satisfaction with work, and stimulate
interpersonal relationships within the team. They were based on communication that
facilitated emotional support and informal treatment of employees (e.g., expressing
Leadership Styles and Employee Expectations
408
appreciation, encouraging employees to share ideas and present initiatives, listening
to suggestions both from within and outside the company).
6. Conclusions
Leadership is the art of inspiring people to undertake actions that help to achieve
shared aspirations. It involves developing employee engagement, creating
opportunities to present new ideas, and appreciating employees, which stimulates
their innovativeness. Leadership also entails including employees in the decision-
making process, providing the ability to define their own work, ensuring employees'
well-being, collecting, and managing new ideas, promoting innovativeness in
employees, and creating the environment for sharing knowledge and ideas.
Human capital is the principal strategic asset of an enterprise in the knowledge-
based market environment, thus the need for modern and effective leadership.
Various sources demonstrate that financial payment is a priority for employees
deciding to search for a job and starting work. However, the stimulating effect of
monetary remuneration is limited by a large number of subjective factors. In an
unstable economy, when employees worry about their future, the motivation to work
decreases, and financial motivation is insufficient. In such circumstances, building
employee engagement in increasing the company's value by enhancing staff
competencies and knowledge (which translates to the entire enterprise's increased
knowledge potential) gains importance.
Therefore, engagement in one's work consists of a positive approach to duties,
complete interest, and attention, characterized by devotion in the performance of
additional tasks, exceeding the formal scope duties included in the job description.
At present, with companies setting increasingly ambitious goals, a very high rate of
technological advancement, and high expectations of specialized workers, leaders
play a fundamental role in developing the social potential of the enterprise. A
competent leader will be able to create an optimal work environment for employee
performance and the company's development, regardless of the difficulties.
Therefore, managers should provide employees with obligatory training and
additional training opportunities to support the processes of self-education and the
self-actualization of workers. Due to specialist skills mastered at the workplace and
the time devoted to learning and gathering experience, employees identify with the
company and feel good, as they realize that their know-how is crucial for the
company.
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