Transformational Leadership, Team Goal Fulfillment, and Follower Work Satisfaction: The Moderating Effects of Deep-Level Similarity in Leadership Dyads

By Wolfram, Hans-Joachim; Mohr, Gisela | Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, February 2009 | Go to article overview

Transformational Leadership, Team Goal Fulfillment, and Follower Work Satisfaction: The Moderating Effects of Deep-Level Similarity in Leadership Dyads


Wolfram, Hans-Joachim, Mohr, Gisela, Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies


The impact of deep-level similarity between managers ([N.sub.1] = 117) and followers ([N.sub.2] = 403) on the interrelations between transformational leadership and outcomes was analyzed. The authors accounted for similarity in subjective meaning of work, occupational self-efficacy, and emotional irritation. Unexpectedly, the authors found a negative interrelation between transformational leadership and team goal fulfillment when followers scored higher than their managers on subjective meaning of work and when followers were more emotionally irritated than their managers. Thus, to increase transformational leadership's positive effects, managers should show appreciation of work values, and their followers' level of exhaustion should be kept to a minimum.

Keywords: deep-level similarity; transformational leadership; goal fulfillment; work satisfaction

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In leadership research, similarity between leaders and followers has predominantly been analyzed as a predictor of leader-member exchange (e.g., Deluga, 1998; Dose, 1999). Similarity has also been examined in terms of value congruence as a mediator of transformational leadership (e.g., Jung & Avolio, 2000). Over the past few decades, transformational leadership has increasingly been seen as an effective leadership style. However, Yukl (1999) has criticized researchers for not paying sufficient attention to mediating and moderating variables of transformational leadership. Identifying facilitating and limiting conditions for transformational leadership's effectiveness is of practical importance (e.g., for leadership training). This is particularly relevant as there might be conditions under which transformational leadership is even detrimental (Yukl, 1999, p. 291).

This field study aimed at identifying facilitating conditions that are related to deep-level similarity between managers and followers. We investigated whether the interrelation between transformational leadership and outcomes is moderated by deep-level similarity between managers and followers. Evidence exists that both attitudinal variables, such as follower work satisfaction (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, & Bommer, 1996), and group performance (Lowe, Kroeck, & Sivasubramaniam, 1996) are positively related to transformational leadership (Vandenberghe, Stordeur, & D'hoore, 2002). In their meta-analysis, Judge and Piccolo (2004) reported substantial correlations between transformational leadership and follower work satisfaction (r = .58) as well as between transformational leadership and group performance (r = .23). In our study, we chose these common variables: We assessed work satisfaction rated by the followers themselves and managers' ratings of their respective working group's performance. Our choice of outcomes also meets Yukl's (2002, p. 8) proposition that multiple criteria from different sources should be considered in leadership research.

We focused on different fields of deep-level similarity to attain a comprehensive picture of similarity's effects. We chose three work-relevant personal attributes: subjective meaning of work, occupational self-efficacy, and emotional irritation. Empirical studies showed that these variables were of relevance for transformational leadership. Similarity in work values between leaders and followers has been found to mediate between leadership and leadership effectiveness (Jung & Avolio, 2000), whereas there is evidence that high occupational self-efficacy on the followers' side positively influences the interrelation between leadership and leadership effectiveness (Walumbwa, Lawler, Avolio, Wang, & Shi, 2005). Finally, another study found that leadership positively affects followers' emotional state (Seltzer, Numerof, & Bass, 1989).

Transformational Leadership and Outcomes

Transformational leadership (Bass, 1985) involves leadership behaviors that can elicit extraordinary performance on the part of followers (Felfe & Schyns, 2004). …

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