The manner by which decisions are made and changes are implemented within a musical organization may reflect leadership style. Within a band program, a director's decision-making style can range from making decisions without any input from the students to setting parameters by which students have more decision-making opportunities. A continuum of student leadership strength also exists within many music ensembles. Students can display leadership in a number of ways, whether as social leaders, musical leaders, or both. Some student leaders attain a formal position of student officer or section leader, while other students display leadership behaviors without being elected to a formal position. Intuitively, band directors may recognize some of the benefits of having strong student leaders, yet little is known about the effect of student leadership on musical outcomes. If band directors do recognize the importance of having strong leadership within their band programs, than it may also be important to consider what kind of director leadership style is related to student leadership development. It may be equally important to investigate the effect of band director leadership style on musical performance outcomes.
Little is known about student leadership and band director leadership in relation to performance outcomes. The available research can be grouped into categories of leadership style and organizational success (Dunaway, 1987; Goodstein, 1987), investigations into the inherent nature of leadership behaviors (Palen & Palen, 1995; Roberson, 1985), and leadership development (Burnsed & Jensen, 1994; Palen & Palen, 1995; Rudatis, 1996). Dunaway (1987) noted that directors of successful choral programs tended to rely on student leaders more than directors of average programs. Goodstein (1987), however, found no significant relationship between differing leadership styles and band director success, yet recommended further study of band director leadership behaviors.
Researchers differ in their views about ways in which band directors and students acquire leadership abilities. Roberson (1985) noted that there have been theories that explain leadership behaviors as being inborn, yet others (Palen & Palen, 1995) contended that leadership behaviors may be learned. Burnsed and Jensen (1994) speculated that in order for music students to become effective leaders, music educators must be leaders themselves. Rudaitis (1996) noted the relationship between the leader of a music organization and the leadership qualities of the students: "[The advisor] must model the leadership skills that students are expected to develop" (p. 40). Concerning the development of student leadership, Rudaitis stressed the importance of turning responsibility over to students. Research has found, however, no significant differences between traditional music instruction and instruction designed to facilitate student participation in musical decision making regarding the students' ability to perform expressively (Petters, 1976).
Regarding leadership styles, an artificial dichotomy has emerged from the research. In the autocratic style, the head of a musical organization will often view his or her leadership style as the authoritative head of a hierarchy, complete with subordinates to carry out the assigned tasks necessary to meet the goals and standards set by the leader. This style of leadership was popularized by business models of the industrial revolution and continues to be effective for some organizations (Lashwell, 1995). Glickman, Gordon, and Gordon (2001) suggested that the autocratic style is best used when the subordinate group is functioning at low levels.
Conversely, Lashwell (1995) described …