The study intends to analyze how the shift to inspiring leadership in EU modern organizations reflects in the preferred leadership among employees from post-soviet Baltic countries: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The main research question investigates employees’ perception of an ideal leader in developing EU countries. This perception is important for the employees’ work performance and sustainable economic growth. The study intends to compare Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian employees’ preferences for leader’s traditional roles (task-oriented behavior and relations-oriented behavior) and modern “more emotional and inspiring” views (charisma and social responsibility). 221 employees participated in the cross-sectional quantitative survey with self-administered internet based questionnaires. 124 Lithuanians, 40 Latvians, 57 Estonians filled in the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Leadership Behaviors (
Keywords: Preferred leadershipEuropean UnionBaltic countries
Since the beginning of the systematic scientific study of leadership in 1930 researchers from all over the world tried to solve the puzzle what makes people effective in leadership positions (van Knippenberg, & Sitkin, 2013). Probable theoretical answers with strong empirical evidence could be grouped into two broad categories: old (traditional) and new (modern) leadership schools (Avolio et al., 2009). The shift from traditional to modern view in leadership could be recorded from the debut of Transformational leadership theory (Hernandez et al., 2011). Transformational leaders were seen as charismatic examples who inspire others (Bass, 1999). They were different from traditional leaders whose role was more instrumental (House, & Podsakoff, 1994). Nowadays European Union modern organizations talk about inspiring leadership. However,
Leadership preferences are important for the employees’ work performance and sustainable economic growth. Employees’ perception of the leader can predict organizational performance (Uhl-Bien et al., 2014). If employees perceive the leader as near to an ideal, they are more willing to show extra efforts, to perform beyond expectations. Follower-centric perspective in leadership gains more and more evidence (Oc, & Bashshur, 2013). Therefore,
Post-soviet Baltic countries (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) are quite young members of European Union and results of leadership research in developing cultural context could be different in comparison with old cultures (Lee et al., 2014). Moreover, Huettinger (2008) states that confirmation of similarities between three Baltic countries needs further research. So,
Task-oriented behavior and relations-oriented behavior represent behavioral theory (Yukl, 2012). Charisma and social responsibility are parts of transformational and servant leadership theories (Brewer, 2010; Bass, 1999). Four dimensions from different leadership theories involve both behavioral and trait components. Integration of them could explain leadership in more details (Derue et al., 2011).
This cross-sectional quantitative survey with self-administered internet based questionnaires was conducted in 4 international organizations that have units in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. 221
employees (83 percent females and 17 percent males) participated in the survey. 124 Lithuanians, 40 Latvians and 57 Estonians were from 35 subunits of private service sector organizations. Participants were working under the leadership of direct middle managers. 72 percent of respondents had higher education and 28 percent lower than higher education. Their work experience was from 1 until more than 40 years (mean – 11.45, sd – 8.02).
Link to the survey with thorough description about the research was sent via inner work email systems in organizations during work hours (human resource managers from organizations gave all the contacts after the conversation about the research). Voluntary participation in the research and confidentiality was guaranteed. Response rate (60 percent) in this study was higher than 36 percent (an average for organizational research (Baruch, & Holtom, 2008)).
Participants filled in the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Leadership Behaviors (Yukl, 2012), Transformational Leadership Inventory (Podsakoff et al., 1996) and a scale from Servant Leadership Questionnaire (Barbuto, & Wheeler, 2006). Graphic scale (Shamir, & Kark, 2004) was an additional element among the traditional questionnaires in the survey. The main information about the instruments is presented in Table
Hierarchical Taxonomy of Leadership Behaviors (Yukl, 2012) was used to measure perceived leader’s task and relations orientation. Two main facets of leader’s behavior were evaluated with 8 items. Employees were asked to describe how well each defined behavior is used by their leader.
Perceived leader’s charisma was assessed with Transformational Leadership Inventory (Podsakoff et al., 1996). Two scales (articulating a vision and providing an appropriate model) with 8 items in total represented perceived leader’s charisma. Employees evaluated how frequently their leader engages in the defined behavior.
A scale from Servant Leadership Questionnaire (Barbuto, & Wheeler, 2006) was used to measure perceived leader’s social responsibility. Employees were asked to describe how frequently their leader engages in the behavior defined with 3 items.
All items in the questionnaire were measured on a five-point Likert scale. Results of instruments’ reliability analysis are presented in Table
Perception of an ideal leader was evaluated with Graphic scale (Shamir, & Kark, 2004). The chart was presented to employees with the instruction to choose out of the 7 rectangles the one that most highly represents the extent of similarity between their ideal leader and real direct leader in the organization. There were two circles (representing ideal and real leader) in each rectangle. In each rectangle the circles were overlapping differently (from totally separate, different till totally overlapping, very similar).
Additional questions about employees’ gender, education level and work experience were included in the questionnaire.
Group comparisons, correlational and linear regression analyses were used for data analysis. First of all, comparison of perceived ideal leadership in groups by gender, education level and country are introduced (Table
Male and female employees perceive ideal leader quite similar. However, Lithuanians were stricter for an ideal leader in comparison with Estonians and Latvians. Employees with lower than university education had higher expectations for an ideal leader too. There were also significant correlations between perception of an ideal leader and work experience (r=0.181; p=0.007).
Finally, results of linear regression analysis (Table
The leading topic in nowadays old-world business and economics is about the shift to inspiring leadership in developing European Union countries. Three main aspects of the topic were disclosed in the article. First of all, under-estimated follower-centric perspective in leadership was employed. Employees’ perception of the leader was understood as the main predictor of organization’s sustainable growth (Uhl-Bien et al., 2014). Therefore, leaders were assessed by direct subordinates. Secondly, scientists suggest that perception of a leader is influenced by subordinates’ individual differences (Tziner et al., 2005). The main individual differences of employees (gender, education level, work experience and country) were taken into consideration within data analysis. Thirdly, elements from old (traditional) and new (modern) leadership schools were included into the research model. Behavioral and trait aspects in leadership were analyzed both separately and jointly. Authors of the article strove for additional value of integrated model and examined interactive predictive value of different leadership dimensions to employees’ preferences.
Data revealed that the shift to inspiring leadership have already occurred in the perception of employees from post-soviet Baltic countries. Nowadays subordinates in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia as in other EU countries need charismatic leaders (Hoffman et al., 2011). However, relations-oriented behavior is still an important aspect of an ideal leadership as mentioned in other studies (Oc, Bashshur, 2013). Higher employees’ expectations for an ideal leadership are related to Lithuania, lower education level and shorter work experience. Theoretical and practical knowledge provides wider viewpoint and lower requirements for an ideal leadership (Starbuck & Mezias, 1996). These main messages give the insight about the challenges for the development of management in still developing EU members.
Leader’s charisma and relations-oriented behavior predict employees’ perception of an ideal leadership. Leaders who are seen as charismatic and engaged in relations-oriented behavior are evaluated as more similar to an ideal.
Perception of an ideal leadership is predicted by country. Latvians and Estonians have lower expectations towards ideal leader in comparison with Lithuanians.
Employees’ education level and work experience are important for the analysis of the perceived ideal leadership. Higher education level and longer work experience of employees are related to more favorable evaluations of an ideal leadership.
The Article was prepared during the project “Postdoctoral Fellowship Implementation in Lithuania”, funded by European Union Structural Funds.
- Avolio, B. J., Walumbwa, F. & Weber, T. J. (2009). Leadership: Current theories, research, and future directions. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 421-449.
- Barbuto, J. E. & Wheeler, D. W. (2006). Scale development and construct clarification of servant leadership. Group and Organization Management, 31 (3), 300–326.
- Baruch, Y., & Holtom, B. C. (2008). Survey responses rate levels and trends in organizational research. Human Relations, 61 (8), 1139-1160.
- Brewer, C. (2010). Servant leadership: a review of literature. Online Journal of Workforce Education and Development, 4 (2), 1–8.
- Bass, B. M. (1999). Two decades of research and development in transformational leadership. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 8 (1), 9–32.
- Derue, D. S., Nahrgang, J. D., Wellman, N. & Humphrey, S. E. (2011). Trait and behavioral theories of leadership: An integration and meta-analytic test of their relative validity. Personnel Psychology, 64, 7-52.
- Hernandez, M., Eberly, M. B., Avolio, B. J. & Johnson, M. D. (2011). The loci and mechanisms of leadership: Exploring a more comprehensive view of leadership theory. The Leadership Quarterly, 22, 1165-1185.
- Hoffman, B. J., Woehr, D. J., Maldagen-Youngjohn, R. & Lyons, B. D. (2011). Great man or great myth? A quantitative review of the relationship between individual differences and leader effectiveness. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 84, 374–381.
- House, R. J. & Podsakoff, P. M. (1994). Leadership effectiveness: Past perspectives and future directions for research, in Greenberg, J. (Ed.), Organizational Behaviour – the State of the Science, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, USA, 45-82.
- Huettinger, M. (2008). Cultural dimensions in business life: Hofstede‘s indices for Latvia and Lithuania. Baltic Journal of Management, 3 (3), 359–376.
- Lee, K., Scandura, T. A. & Sharif, M. M. (2014). Cultures have consequences: A configural approach to leadership across two cultures. The Leadership Quarterly, 25, 692–710.
- Oc, B., & Bashshur, M. R. (2013). Followership, leadership and social influence. Leadership Quarterly, 24 (6), 919-934.
- Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B. & Bommer, W. H. (1996). Transformational leader behaviors and substitutes for leadership as determinants of employee satisfaction, commitment, trust and organizational citizenship behaviors. Journal of Management, 22 (2), 259–298.
- Shamir, B. & Kark, R. (2004). A single-item graphic scale for the measurement of organizational identification. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 77, 115–123.
- Starbuck, W. H. & Mezias, J. M. (1996). Opening Pandora’s box: studying the accuracy of managers’ perceptions. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 17, 99–117.
- Tziner, A., Murphy, K. R. & Cleveland, J. N. (2005). Contextual and rater factors affecting rating behaviour. Group and Organizational Management, 30 (1), 89-98.
- Uhl-Bien, M., Riggio, R. E., Lowe, K. B., & Carsten, M. K. (2014). Followership theory: A review and research agenda. Leadership Quarterly, 25, 83-104.
- van Knippenberg, D. & Sitkin, S. B. (2013). A critical assessment of charismatic-transformational leadership research: Back to the Drawing Board? The Academy of Management Annals, 7 (1), 1-60.
- Yukl, G. (2012). Effective leadership behavior: What we know and what questions need more attention. Academy of Management Perspectives, November, 66–85.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
About this article
30 November 2016
Print ISBN (optional)
Business, management, behavioural management, macroeconomics, behavioural science, behavioural sales, behavioural marketing
Cite this article as:
Endriulaitiene, A., & Stelmokiene, A. (2016). The Shift to Inspiring Leadership in Developing European Union Countries. In R. X. Thambusamy, M. Y. Minas, & Z. Bekirogullari (Eds.), Business & Economics - BE-ci 2016, vol 17. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 441-447). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2016.11.02.40