High- Commitment Leadership: A Study of Iranian Executives

Article excerpt

This study tests Conger-Kanungo hypothesis that employee empowerment can help build a strong positive attitude among subordinates. The findings on Iranian executives and managers point to the conclusion that encouraging employee participation, setting motivational goals, removing bureaucratic barriers and rewarding performance lead towards building a loyal workforce.


Senior managers as a group are a popular subject of writing and research. They symbolize personal and professional success by reaching higher echelons of their organizations, entrusted with strategic choices required to enable their organizations to successfully respond to environmental challenges.

Many researchers have attempted to uncover the secrets of effective performance in senior positions. There is no shortage of recipes. Most researchers have used primarily normative approaches to the study of managerial effectiveness. Through case studies (Kotter, 1982; Levinson and Rosenthal, 1984; Conger, 1989) or general observations (Katz, 1975; Blanchard and Johnson, 1982; Muczuk and Reimann, 1987; Conger and Kanungo, 1988) they have generated wide- ranging prescriptions for executive performance.

Most of the work on managerial leadership is generally based on U.S. managers. In this paper, we provide empirical evidence on Iranian senior managers from the vantage point of their immediate subordinates who themselves are in middle and upper-middle management positions.


The purpose of our study is to identify the correlates of managerial ability to make an emotional impact on employees in higher organizational echelons. We focus on the ability of a senior manager to make a positive affective imprint on their subordinates and create a loyal following among their employees. The study will identify the characteristics of those senior managers who are successful in building a sense of loyalty among the managers who report directly to them.

Emotional impact

Today's organizations face unprecedented turbulence and significant challenges. Senior executives need to mobilize their organizations to respond effectively or otherwise risk failure. Energizing and leading today's human resources requires more than transactional leadership where subordinates put in an effort in return for monetary and extrinsic rewards (Bass, 1985). It increasingly requires substantial emotional bonding between the employees and the organization. What is needed is a dedicated and loyal workforce which is transformed, confident, and prepared to go beyond the normal and traditional bounds of performance to ensure organizational success (Bass, 1985). A workforce that is loyal to its management and its vision and direction.

This research is premised on the assumption that employees' loyalty to the organization evolves as a result of their everyday experiences at work. The most immediate and direct experience is the relationship between the employee and his/her superior. The loyalty to the immediate boss will generalize over time to commitment to the organization as a whole. Those subordinates who consider their boss as the ideal manager will, over time, develop positive affective attitudes towards the organization as a whole.

In this study, we identify those executives who have made a significant emotional impact on their subordinates. We then examine the behaviors and characteristics that distinguish this group. The paper's contributions are twofold. First, it will use a large scale sample to empirically verify the validity of several key propositions in the literature. Secondly, it will provide a recipe for senior executives based on the views of middle and upper-middle managers.

Emotional impact and empowerment

To understand the unique features of those executives who leave a strong emotional impact, we used the empowerment concept developed by Conger and Kanungo (1988). …