Transformational leadership : exploratory study within research and development (R&D) groups
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This research investigated the leadership style in a research and development (R&D) work unit within a petro-chemical company, using the Full Range Leadership Development Theory as assessed by Multifactor-Leadership-Questionnaire (MLQ). From the literature review conducted, it was concluded that an R&D environment is multi-dimensional and the workforce can be diverse in the field of specialisation and personality characteristics. Subsequently, the literature review also focused on functional diversity and gender differences within technological and/or scientific environments. Descriptive statistics were provided and the data were then statistically analysed. The research results showed a statistical difference in the perception of the frequency of leadership style between manager-leaders and subordinates. Differences in the mean scores of manager-leaders and subordinates found that the manager-leaders overestimated the frequency ratings of their transformational leadership style and the leadership outcomes, while they under-estimated the frequency ratings for transactional and laissez-faire leadership style. This indicates that although the manager-leaders consider themselves as more transformational, the subordinates of this R&D unit view their immediate managers as not displaying ideal levels of transformational leadership behaviours. A self-bias phenomenon may be present where the manager-leaders judge themselves as overly favourable. It is recommended that this be addressed within the organisation. A statistical significant difference was observed in how some male and female employees experienced their manager-leaders' leadership style. The females indicated a higher frequency of laissez-faire leadership style, while some males viewed their manager-leaders as more transformational compared to the female employees. Manager-leaders may need different skills to manage females and in general an increasing awareness of gender bias within the unit may mitigate stereotypical assumptions. No statistically significant differences (p<0, 05) could be found for the total group between functional areas, being scientists versus engineers. It should be noted that the departments consist of predominantly scientists, while only one department showed a mixture of scientists and engineers.
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