Transformation Leadership Behaviors, Upward Trust, and Satisfaction in Self-Managed Work Teams

Article excerpt


This study examined relationships among transformational leadership behaviors, upward trust, and job satisfaction. Data were collected from 78 members of self-directed work teams at a large manufacturing firm in the southeastern U.S. Team members' trust in the leader mediated the relationships between four of six leadership behaviors and team members' satisfaction with their work. All six leadership behaviors moderated the relationship between team members' trust in their leader and satisfaction with their work. However, the data supported neither the mediated nor the moderated model for members' satisfaction with their supervisor.


A crucial factor in the success or failure of a work team is the quality of its leadership. Several studies have shown that the effectiveness of a team depends, in part, on behaviors of its leader. For example, Bryman (1992) and Howell and Frost ( 1989) found that charismatic leadership was positively related to satisfaction, effort, performance, and role clarity. Butler and Cantrell (1997) found main and interactive effects of perceived consideration and initiating structure in their prediction of both productivity and satisfaction. Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Moorman, and Fetter ( 1990) demonstrated that transformational leader behaviors influenced employees' trust, satisfaction, and citizenship behaviors.

Podsakoff and his colleagues identified six transformational leadership behaviors (TLBs) associated with a leader's ability to motivate and inspire members (Burns, 1978). They described these behaviors as: articulating a vision for the future, providing an appropriate role model for members, fostering the acceptance of group goals, setting high performance expectations, showing individualized support for members, and providing intellectual stimulation to challenge members and prevent boredom. They argued that these six TLBs motivate members to transcend self-interests and engage in behaviors beyond what they are expected to do (Avolio and Bass, 1988; Yukl, 1989). Podsakoff et al. ( 1990) tested a set of models that specified both trust and satisfaction as mediators between TLBs and organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs). They found that the TLBs were significantly related to both employees' trust and satisfaction, but were not directly related to the OCBs. Also, trust was related to the OCBs but satisfaction was not.

In a more recent study, Podsakoff, MacKenzie, and Bommer (1996) explored the main and interactive effects of the six TLBs and thirteen substitutes for leadership (Kerr and Jermier, 1978) on a number of criterion variables including employees' trust and job satisfaction. The aggregate set of TLBs explained 28% of the variance in employees' trust in their leader and only 7% of the variance in employees' general satisfaction. These findings, in addition to the fact that trust explained 31% of the variance in general satisfaction suggest that trust might mediate the relationship between TLBs and satisfaction.

In the current study, we extended the work of Podsakoff and his colleagues. Our participants were members of selfmanaged work teams. We chose to study teams because of their current popularity in work organizations. We interviewed 56 managers in our evening MBA courses and in organizations for which we have consulted. These managers indicated that team members' trust in their leader was probably strongly related to team outcomes. However, they stopped short of specifying the nature of these relationships. Therefore, there is still no answer to the question of how trust and leadership behaviors combine as they relate to team outcomes.

Consequently, we proposed and tested two different, though mutually consistent, models of leadership behaviors, trust, and affective outcomes. The first of these models specified trust in the leader as a mediator of the effects of six TLBs on intrinsic and extrinsic job satisfaction of self-directed work team members. …