The New Leader: A Synthesis of Leadership Research in Australia and New Zealand

Article excerpt

Executive Summary

This article presents the findings of a recently completed synthesis of leadership research conducted through the mid-1990s in Australia and New Zealand. Differences and similarities in implications between Australasia and North America are identified. The implications of those findings for the profile of effective middle management business leadership generally are also discussed. Four integrating themes are identified. They are (1) the issue of leader self-development, (2) the importance to leadership of learning, (3) the importance of leaders being both transformational and transactional, and (4) the identification of a number of paradigm shifts in thinking about leadership. A proposed over-arching theme is that of `leader self-assessment'. In addition, a profile of the new successful leader of the future is proposed, as are a number of implications for practitioners that came as a result of this research. Finally, future research directions are identified.

Until recent years, little leadership research has been undertaken in Australia and New Zealand. However, the projects discussed in this article represent something of a watershed in leadership research in Australasia. There has been for some time a feeling among scholars that this new stage of interest in leadership should be recognized by some integration of the leadership work that is being done. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to aggregate what is known about leadership research in Australia and New Zealand, so as to provide a launch pad of sorts for future research in this important area. Accordingly, this article presents the findings of a recently completed synthesis of leadership research conducted in the early 1990s in Australia and New Zealand. It also discusses the integration of the findings of these research projects.

The data have come from a synthesis of 13 major research projects into the practice and nature of leadership in various Australian and New Zealand organizational settings.

Twenty-two researchers used qualitative and quantitative methods to interview and survey over 5000 Australians and New Zealanders from the public service, police, finance, manufacturing, health and emerging technology industries, university professionals, senior industry executives, and politicians. A summary of the key characteristics of the research projects is included in Table 1.

Table 1 - Key Characteristics of Leadership Research Reports, Australia and New Zealand

Author                    No. of subjects     Industry

Lewis (1996)              Several hundred     Tertiary education

Clegg and Gray (1996)     Not stated          Emerging technologies

Sarros et al. (1996)      24 CEOs             Various

Adamson (1994; 1996)      124 O.T.            Health - Occ. Therapy
                          professionals

Hede and Wear (1995;      41 (ex) Cabinet     Government
1996)                     Ministers

Carless et al. (1996)     2122                Banking

Ashkanasy and             190                 Industrial and service
Weierter (1996)

Parry and Sarros (1994;   133                 Hospital; tertiary;
1996)                                         fire service

Singer (1996)             400+                Police, university,
                          NZ, Taiwan          middle management

Irurita (1994; 1996)      33 nurse managers   Health-nursing
                                              managers

Dickenson (1996)          25 senior           State public
                          executives          service (SES)

Gardner et al. (1996)     2418                Public / private

Parry (1998)              46                  Public (local govt.)

Author                    Method              General area

Lewis (1996)              case study          Transformational
                                              l'ship / power

Clegg and Gray (1996)     case study          Organizational
                                              learning

Sarros et al. …