Leadership Traits, Leadership Behavior, and Job Autonomy of Imams in Peninsular Malaysia: A Moderated Mediation Analysis

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This study investigated the process of how and when imams' leadership traits could influence their leadership behavior. In the moderated mediation analysis, this research hypothesized, two leadership traits of imams (i.e. motivation to lead or MTL and past leadership experiences) might mediate the influence of three leadership traits (general cognitive ability, personality, and religiosity) toward the imams' managerial leadership behavior. The analysis also hypothesized that the mediation process might be moderated by the imams' high and low job autonomous situation. A structured, Malay version-self-administered questionnaire was distributed to 357 imams around Peninsular Malaysia. Results of the hierarchical regression analysis revealed that the traits of imams explained 40.5% variance of leadership behavior. Specifically, the analysis demonstrated leadership behavior was influenced significantly by the imams' extraversion, agreeableness, and openness personality, social-normative MTL, and past leadership experiences. Imams' religiosity and general cognitive ability did not show potential to influence their leadership behavior. Furthermore, this research found social-normative MTL showed partial mediation on the association of personality extraversion and openness with the criterion. Past leadership experiences did not mediate the leadership traits and behavior association. Finally, the analysis revealed high job autonomous situation has potential to moderate the influence of openness personality and affective-identity MTL toward leadership behavior.

Keywords: Leadership behavior, leadership traits, imams of mosque, religious leaders.

1. INTRODUCTION

This research investigated the integrated influence of general cognitive ability, personality, religiosity, past leadership experiences, motivation to lead or MTL, job autonomy toward leadership behavior. In this research, the traits of imams were hypothesized to be different in proximity with leadership behavior (Yukl, 1989; 2006; Zaccaro, Kemp, & Bader, 2004). Specifically, general cognitive ability, personality dimensions, and religiosity were investigated as distal leadership traits while MTL dimensions and past leadership experiences were investigated as proximal or intervening leadership traits. Furthermore, this research hypothesized the influence of distal and mediating leadership traits toward leadership behavior is different in low and high job autonomous situation (Trow, 1957; Ng, Ang, & Chan, 2008). Generally, this research aimed to achieve at least three objectives. First this research aimed to assess whether leadership traits have direct influence toward leadership behavior of imams. Second, this research aimed to assess the possibility of mediating model of imams' leadership. Third, this research aimed to assess the moderating influence of job autonomy on the traits and behavior association. This integrated approach in conducting leadership research is encouraged by scholars (Zaccaro et al., 2004; Derue, Nahrgang, Wellman, & Humphrey, 2011). This is because the approach could help us investigate leadership process from a broader perspective. Further theoretical discussions on the issue and hypotheses of this research could be read at section 3.

Generally, this research was conducted on imams around Peninsular Malaysia because the group of leaders (imams) was recently dragged into the issue of mosque management and performance in Malaysia (e.g. Abdul Majid, 1991; Mohamed, 2004; Shafi'i, 2003; Sheikh Abdul Aziz, 2008; Zakaria, 2008). As a respond to the issue, this research found at least two issues brought forward by Muslim academics and government officials in Malaysia. One aspect of the critiques pointed to the issue of imams should be credited with greater responsibility and autonomy as officers or leaders of mosques in order to enable them functioning optimally (Abdul Majid, 1991; Abdul Latiff, 2007; Shafi'i, 2003; Sheikh Abdul Aziz, 2008). …