Organizational Leadership: Motives and Behaviors of Leaders in Current Organizations

By Martí, Margarita; Gil, Francisco et al. | The Spanish Journal of Psychology, January 1, 2009 | Go to article overview

Organizational Leadership: Motives and Behaviors of Leaders in Current Organizations


Martí, Margarita, Gil, Francisco, Barrasa, Angel, The Spanish Journal of Psychology


Organizational leadership is fundamental for the working and development of current organizations. It helps members of an organization to face transcendental challenges. One of the fundamental aspects of leaders is their personal characteristics and behaviour as perceived by their co-workers. Although research has established a relationship between these components, findings have failed to come up with any congruent evidence and further to this the organizations and contexts used are from several decades ago.

This article, which forms part of the international GLOBE project, analyses the relationship between motives and behaviour as perceived by co-workers in organizations, using quantitative and qualitative methods and including technological innovations. Using samples from 40 corporate directors and 84 of their co-workers, from different companies, it confirms how the main motives of leaders (power, affiliation and achievement) are related to different behavioral patterns (power to authoritarian, non-dependent and non-social-skill behaviours; affiliation to relationship and dependent behaviors, and achievement to proactive behaviors). It discusses the results with relation to traditional research and suggests practical measures and proposals for future investigations in this area.

Keywords: leadership, management, motives, styles and behaviors

El liderazgo organizacional resulta fundamental para el funcionamiento y desarrollo de las organizaciones actuales, implicando a sus miembros para afrontar retos transcendentales. Uno de los aspectos fundamentales del liderazgo son las características de personalidad de los líderes y las conductas percibidas por parte de los colaboradores. Aunque algunas investigaciones establecen relaciones entre ambas, no hay una evidencia congruente, y reflejan organizaciones y contextos de hace varias décadas. Este trabajo, que forma parte del proyecto internacional GLOBE, analiza la relación entre motivos y conductas percibidas por los colaboradores en organizaciones actuales utilizando métodos cuantitativos y cualitativos e incorporando innovaciones tecnológicas. Utilizando una muestra de 40 altos directivos y de 84 de sus colaboradores cercanos de diferentes empresas, se confirmó cómo los principales motivos de los líderes (poder, afiliación y logro) se asocian con diferentes patrones de conductas (poder con conductas autoritarias, no dependientes y no hábiles socialmente; afiliación con conductas de relación y dependencia, y logro con conductas proactivas). Se discuten los resultados en relación a las investigaciones tradicionales y se plantean medidas prácticas y propuestas de investigaciones futuras.

Palabras clave: liderazgo, dirección, motivos, estilos y conductas

Leadership unquestionably plays a strategic role in the working and development of organizations. This role is all the more crucial today, when organizations have to face new challenges in changing and turbulent times, demanding flexible and adaptive leadership that is capable of predicting necessary changes in advance and developing the necessary commitment between co-workers to face these changes successfully. This action by leaders is decisive not only for the effectiveness of the organization but also for its very survival (Bass, 1990; Burke & Cooper, 2004; Yukl, 2004).

Leadership can be analysed from different perspectives, as corresponds to a multidimensional and complex concept (Bass, 1990; Sashkin & Burke, 1990; Yukl, 2006), and therefore the focus can be on motives, styles and behaviors, situations and other aspects, relating to the management of meanings, identification, change in values and attitudes, and so forth, as highlighted by the so-called new models of leadership (Bryman, 1996; Molero, Cuadrado, Navas, & Morales, 2007). The long history of research into motives (see, for example, Atkinson, 1958; Heyns, Veroff, & Atkinson, 1958) was revitalized as of the 1970s due to substantial theoretical and methodological developments in the study of personality (Aditya, House, & Kerr, 2000).

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