Transformational Leadership "What's Gender Got to Do With It?"


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This study explores the impact of gender and organizational context on interpretations of leadership using a qualitative interpretive approach from the frame of transformational leadership theory. It does so by addressing the social constructions that female and male leaders manage in the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Additionally it focuses upon one limitation of transformational leadership theory, that being, the narrow focus upon the meanings organizational members or followers socially construct for leaders.

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Transformational Leadership "What's Gender Got to Do With It?"

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  2. 2. TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP: “WHAT’S GENDER GOT TO DO WITH IT”? by Mary Anne Dawson A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Arts in Communication Boise State University July, 2007 ii
  3. 3. © 2007 Mary Anne Dawson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED iii
  4. 4. The thesis presented by Mary Anne Dawson entitled Transformational Leadership: “What’s Gender Got To Do With It?” is hereby approved: Heidi Reeder Date Advisor Natalie Nelson-Marsh Date Committee Member Renu Dube Date Committee Member John R. (Jack) Pelton Date Dean of the Graduate College iv
  5. 5. DEDICATION I would like to dedicate this thesis first, to my parents Lawrence and Margaret Dawson who have always encouraged and supported all my pursuits, intellectual or otherwise. To my mother, who was always there to provide encouragement. To my father, who pushed me from childhood to always challenge the status quo, question the unquestionable, and to never stop asking why. To my grandfather, Alson Dawson, who always told ‘his girls’ to do whatever they set their minds to. An exceptional man that battled both blindness and cancer while continually pursuing his passions for writing, history, and journalism. And lastly, to my grandmother, Lillian Dawson, who has always been a strong role model to my sisters and me. v
  6. 6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank: Dr. Heidi Reeder my committee chair and mentor, for all her academic and personal support throughout the years. Her encouragement, patience, and advice have shaped my identity both as an individual and academic. Dr. Natalie Nelson- Marsh, for assisting me in finding my way when I was helplessly overwhelmed. I will never cease to marvel at her ability to ground students when they float to far into the subjective realm of theory. Dr. Renu Dube, for opening my mind to the importance of history making, rhetoric, and critical theory. It was in her classes that I began to understand the importance of critical theory; I was transformed as a student in her classes and will never forget the experience. I would also like to thank the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The exceptional people in these organizations took valuable time out of their busy lives to assist me in completing this thesis. I will always remember these extraordinary people who dedicate themselves to our collective future. vi
  7. 7. ABSTRACT Transformational Leadership: “What’s Gender Got To Do With It?” Mary Anne Dawson Master of Arts in Communication The theorized connection between gender and transformational leadership, through the eyes of popular management literature, is limited in three important ways. 1) The primary data collection methodology utilized by researchers is quantitative not qualitative. When studying a concept such as interpretation and social construction, qualitative methods often provide deeper and more relevant results. 2) Arguments made by popular management literature are based upon ‘either/or’ logic reminiscent of past gendered argument for masculine leadership ‘styles.’ 3) Organizational context is often not taken into account. This study explores the impact of gender and organizational context on interpretations of leadership using a qualitative interpretive approach from the frame of transformational leadership theory. It does so by addressing the social constructions that female and male leaders manage in the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Additionally it focuses upon one limitation of transformational leadership theory, that being, the narrow focus upon the meanings organizational members or followers socially construct for leaders. This thesis revealed the following five key concepts. 1) Transformational processes may be dictated by organizational type and vision, more so than gender. 2) The transformations in these organizations involved both the children participating in these organizations and organizational members going through social processes of change. Socially constructed spaces within these organizations shape individuals identifications of ‘self’ in connection with community. 3) Transformational processes in these organizations focused on large- scale shifts in conceptualizations of self, community, and society. 4) Interpretive approaches provide avenues for deeper understandings of transformational leadership and leadership processes. Interpretive methods also lead to several unanswered questions. 5) Authentic transformational leadership requires self-sacrifice for the greater good. Consequently, an organization’s ethical standards are important variables when studying the impact of leadership. Considering the push to continually amend processes of leadership; and the popularity of transformational leadership ‘styles’ to effect change in corporations, new questions emerge concerning who and what is being transformed, and for what reason. This study additionally exposes areas for future research using interpretive and critical approaches. vii
  8. 8. TABLE OF CONTENTS DEDICATION…………………………………………………………………………….v ACKNOWLEDGMENTS……………………………………………………………… ABSTRACT……………………………………………………………………………..vii CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………………1 An Introduction to Transformational Leadership……………………………………...1 Popular Management, Gender, and Transformational Leadership…………………2 An Introduction to Leadership Research and Gender………………………………….5 Statement of the Problem……………………………………………………………..10 Purpose of the Study………………………………………………………………….10 Research Question………………………………………………………………...11 Significance of Research……………………………………………………………...12 Summary……………………………………………………………………………...13 CHAPTER II: LITERATURE REVIEW ……………………………………………….14 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………...14 History of Leadership Theories………………………………………………………15 Trait Theories……………………………………………………………………...15 Behavioral Style Theories…………………………………………………………16 Situational Theories……………………………………………………………….17 Contemporary Theories…………………………………………………………...18 Transformational Leadership Theory………………………………………………...18 Gender and Leadership……………………………………………………………….21 Transformational Leadership and Gender………………………………………...24 viii
  9. 9. Limitations and Contradictions of Theories on Gender and Leadership……………..27 Summary……………………………………………………………………………...29 CHAPTER III: METHODOLOGY……………………………………………………...31 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………...31 Description of the Organizations……………………………………………………..31 Girl Scouts of the USA …………………………………………………………...31 Boy Scouts of America……………………………………………………………32 Boys and Girls Clubs of America…………………………………………………32 Data Collection and Procedures………………………………………………………33 Participants……………………………………………………………………….. 33 Data Collection Methodology……………………………………………………..34 Data Analysis Methodology: Thematic Analysis…………………………………36 CHAPTER IV: RESEARCH FINDINGS……………………………………………….38 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………...38 Two Languages – One Leadership…………………………………………………...40 Visions of the Future………………………………………………………………….42 The Driving Force - “It’s About the Kids”……………………………………….43 Shaping Future Generations………………………………………………….……45 Shaping Self, Children, and Community………………………………………….….48 Management of Multiple Relationships……………………………………….…..48 The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number…………………………………………52 Morality, Integrity, and Living the Values of the Organization - “24/7 Role Models” …………………………………………………………………………54 ix
  10. 10. Empowerment, Honesty, and Trust……………………………………………….56 Connecting Task with Vision……………………………………………………...58 Using Stories to Reinforce Vision ……………………………………………………...60 Power and Motivation………………………………………………………………...63 Motivation For Followers…………………………………………………………63 Perceptions of Power – “Who is the Real Puppet Master?” ……………………...66 Summary……………………………………………………………………………...68 CHAPTER V: DISCUSSION……………………………………………………………69 Conclusions and Findings…………………………………………………………….69 Assumptions and Limitations………………………………………………………...70 Implications For Future Research…………………………………………………….70 Possible Dangers of Transformational Leadership and Corporate Institutions…...71 Transformational Leadership as Social Action……………………………………73 APPENDEX A…………………………………………………………………………...75 REFERENCES…………………………………………………………………………..78 x
  11. 11. 1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION “Old-fashioned ways which no longer apply to changed conditions are a snare in which the feet of women have always become readily entangled.” - Jane Addams, Women’s rights activists (1860-1935) An Introduction to Transformational Leadership Emerging onto the landscape of contemporary leadership theory, Transformational Leadership surfaced as a complete reconceptualization of leadership and leadership studies. According to leadership scholars and theorists,’ one of the most crucial aspects of transformational leadership is understanding that it is in no way connected with past assumptions of leadership as ‘styles.’ In fact, the theory was developed in response to flaws in traditional style and trait approaches to leadership. Traditional transformational theorists argue that leaders’ styles and traits cannot be categorized objectively. Instead, transformational leadership suggests that neither the qualities of a leader nor the qualities of a situation are singularly important; instead, these components are socially constructed through the communication process of managing meaning through symbols. Consequently, according to transformational theorists, leaders manage meanings and interpretations of these meanings by followers within diverse contexts. Most importantly, transformational leadership is a process of creating change in an organization because of and through a leader’s ability to recognize and manage traditionally unnoticed meaning(s) that organizational participants have about leadership and the organization. In this sense, transformational leadership moves away from privileging the individual (as past
  12. 12. 2 trait and style theories have done) and instead privileges the social constructions of the organization while still recognizing accountability of the individual. With this focus on the social construction of leadership, the management of meaning and a strong push for organizational change, transformational leadership currently sits at the forefront of leadership theory. Because of its immense popularity, this theory has lead to numerous popular management ‘scholars’ attempting to sell transformational ‘styles’ as the best way for women to manage organizations. But, while several popular management authors have theorized about the possibility that gender differences impact the way transformational leadership is interpreted by organizational participants, there is still a need to further the conversation regarding what leadership is and how leadership is understood from the framework of transformational leadership theory. This becomes an increasingly important factor considering the misguided use of scholarly theory in popular management literature. Popular Management, Gender, and Transformational Leadership Because the ‘gender’ factor has been introduced into social thought concerning transformational leadership, the goal of this research study is to further the investigation of whether female and male leaders, who occupy the same leadership positions and levels within an organization’s hierarchy, differ in their interpreted enactment of leadership; or whether leadership is, as traditional scholarly transformational research identifies, dependant upon multiple factors including organizational context. This context includes components such as position in the organization, organizational environment and structure. This study attempts to assist in refocusing the lens back on the social construction of
  13. 13. 3 meaning and the management of meanings in organizations and in doing so moves away from defining transformational leadership as a ‘style’ that favors women or men in management. Researchers have identified that although current studies have explored the possible influences of gender, it is unclear whether or not gender influences leadership. Research has been conducted that supports both the claims that gender has an impact on leadership, (Rosener, 1995) and that it does not (Bass & Alvolio, 1994). Transformational leadership with its emphasis on networking, collaboration and participation often appears to demonstrate feminine gendered ‘traits’ as identified by popular management literature; an idea that has led to claims that females are more likely to use transformational ‘styles.’ But these surface arguments exclude an important component; leaders’ actions and employees’ interpretation of these actions are two very different things. For example, a woman who shows individual consideration and care for an employee having a difficult time at home can be interpreted as a willingness to listen and concerned for the employee’s wellbeing; while a man is seen as not being able to stay focused on tasks. Conversely, a woman who does not show compassion for employees can be viewed as cold, frigid, and uncaring while a man demonstrating the same actions may be seen as task oriented. The two implement the same leadership process but are slotted into two contrasting roles. Transformational leadership, along with other forms of leadership, can be understood by distinguishing it from traditional definitions of ‘management.’ Theorists’ definitions have varied over the years and across perspectives but most would agree that ‘leadership’ implies persuasion that surpasses traditional roles of management (Yukl & Van Fleet, 1992). Robinson (in Cleveland et al., 2000) suggests that management is the direction of
  14. 14. 4 others; the use of competition, hierarchy, consistency and sameness, slow decision-making, seeking permission and fear of risk-taking; while leadership involves guiding and developing others; using collaboration, networking, diversity, flexibility and taking risks. Transformational leadership allows for the management of multiple socially constructed meanings while maintaining several interpreted masculine (risk-taking) and feminine conceptualized ‘traits’ (networking, flexibility). These leaders have exceptional influence and inspire the people around them to accomplish feats that surpass traditional expectations of action (Bass, 1985). A perfect example of this management of meaning is Gandhi’s 1930 241-mile walk to the sea to produce salt. At the time, the British government’s Salt Act prohibited the making of salt in India. This symbolic act not only inspired a country to resist the unjust control of a colonizing nation, it also provided Gandhi’s followers avenues of action that were previously not at their disposal by allowing action at the subjective level of meaning not completely attached to the objective structures of knowledge solidly set into place. Stereotypically, idealized masculine ‘styles’ are connected with dominance, rank, task orientation, and limited information flow. Idealized feminine ‘styles’ on the other hand are associated with deference, connection, people skills, and unlimited flows of information (Morrison, 1985, 1994; Bem, 1974). These interpretations of leadership as stagnant ‘styles’ and not an active process lead to gender role expectations that shape how society view members of the sexes and their application of leadership processes such as transformational leadership. Often it is not the actual enacted practices of a leader that are analyzed; but instead, followers will look for and compare idealized conceptualizations to their leader’s actions. This interpretation of patterns of practice is key in the study of the
  15. 15. 5 leadership process and must not be ignored when looking at transformational leadership. An Introduction to Leadership Research and Gender Many arguments have been made surrounding the issues of gender and leadership. As this section will reveal, the interpretation of masculine and feminine approaches to leadership has dominated the concept of leadership far beyond transformational leadership studies. This section introduces current thought concerning the assumed similarities and differences in men and women’s gendered behavior differences based on stereotypical ideas of masculinity and femininity. According to Cleveland, Stockdale, and Murphy (2000), theorists often define leadership behaviors or ‘styles’ into two functions: initiating structures (IS) and consideration structures (CS). One of the early studies that identified stereotypes regarding gender and leadership occurred in 1967 when Bartol and Butterfield (in Cleveland et al., 2000) conducted a study finding that consideration ‘styles’ that focus on people and relationships receive more positive ratings for women than men. And conversely, leadership approaches that focus on structure or are task oriented are considered more suitable for men (Bass, 1981). But interestingly, when researchers attempted to duplicate these studies in the 1990’s, they were unable to reproduce the gendered differences (Cleveland et al., 2000). In fact, further studies found that, “contrary to gender stereotypes, male leaders demonstrated more social-oriented language than did female leaders, who in turn reported being more involved in the leadership task than did men” (Cleveland et al., 2000, p. 307). Another frequently studied dimension of gendered leadership is the concept of democratic versus autocratic processes of decision-making. In a study conducted by Vroom
  16. 16. 6 and Yetton (1973), gender differences were found with women tending to lead more democratically and men more autocratically. But as several theorists have conjectured, these gender differences may in fact be a result of the way in which women who lead with authority are evaluated and not their actual actions (Morrison, 1985, 1994; Cleveland et al., 2000; Rosener, 2006). While a participant or democratic leadership approach is conceptualized as applicable to both women and men, an autocratic approach is often considered appropriate only for men (Cleveland et al., 2000; Morrison, 1985). Perhaps the reason women in this study behaved more democratically was not due to ‘natural’ sex differences, but rather due to women trying to avoid behaviors considered inappropriate for their sex, something that could limit women’s decision-making ‘styles.’ One author claims these ideas of democratic female approaches stem from negative evaluation by followers both formally and informally (Morrison, 1985, 1994). Women who do implement masculine, autocratic decision-making may be sharply rebuked (Rosener, 2006; Morrison, 1994; Cleveland et al. 2000). One example of this is demonstrated in the case study of Ann Hopkins, a senior associate for Price-Waterhouse. She was consistently overlooked and denied a partnership with the company based upon her reviews, regardless of the fact that she brought in more revenue than any of her male peers. In the study, her ‘style’ was described as “tough, masculine, and unfriendly.” “Among recommendations given to improve her ‘style,’ she was told she needed to act more femininely and wear more makeup” (Cleveland et al. 2000, p. 307). This demonstrates the power of conceptualization on leadership, while this woman’s approach was effective in producing results for the organization, her ‘style’ did not meet traditional assumptions of gender-roles. During the last few decades’ democratic leadership has received increasing acclaim
  17. 17. 7 as one of the better approaches to leadership. Organizational changes such as the need to accommodate difference and diversity calls for more democratic and/or transformational leadership. This leads some theorists to argue that if women are better democratic leaders than men - it would seem that women have superior leadership skills in present day organizational cultures. But in making these arguments, theorists once again overlook the fact that often when women and men implement the same tactics, they are interpreted quite differently according to their gender. While women may be conceptualized as more democratic and therefore better leaders than men within some organizational contexts these arguments could be detrimental to women in positions of leadership. First, democratic leadership may not always be the best approach to leadership. Second, if women are interpreted as being predominantly democratic, arguments can be made that they are not suited for some types of leadership such as within the military. And third, these arguments about women and democratic leadership take these idealized conceptualizations and strengthen them causing even less room for flexibility of female managers. Modern organizational theorists (Likert, 1967; Peters & Waterman, 1982; Cleveland et al., 2000; Loden, 1985) tout the greatness of democratic leadership on organizational productivity. Researchers take this idea of democratic leadership and build theories that claim that due to gender-role socialization women are more talented at participant leadership and democratic processes (Cleveland et al., 2000; Loden, 1985). By defining women as better at one form of leadership than others, these theorists limit women’s access to multiple approaches to the leadership process. If women are considered predominantly good with democratic leadership, then they are tightly restricted by idealized ‘acceptable’ leadership practices. In fact, this restriction of women’s leadership
  18. 18. 8 to acceptable ‘styles’ may in the long run be destructive. Not only does this limit women’s ability to lead, these arguments shape the perceptions of society concerning gender and leadership. Especially considering that these ideas of participative and autocratic decision- making stemmed from contingency theories that encouraged the use of both (Cleveland et al., 2000). The need for both approaches depending upon context can carry over into the concept of transformational leadership that seems to encourage the enactment of both feminine and masculine approaches. Although popular literature defines transformational leadership as a ‘style,’ the knowledge must be maintained that transformational leadership theorists developed the theory as a new and improved method of studying leadership. Instead of looking at leadership objectively as varying by context, situations, and ‘traits’ of leaders, true transformational leadership views leadership as a process of managing people through symbolism. In essence, leadership varies depending upon the socially constructed meanings and interpretations of the members of a specific group. While modern popular literature and self-help books argue that democratic and transformational leadership ‘styles’ are interchangeable and feminine, the former approach was actuality developed to enact effectively both ‘idealized’ masculine and feminine approaches much like contingency theories. Additionally, the intended enactment of transformational leadership breaks away completely from ‘traits’ and ‘styles’ approaches viewing them as flawed and instead focuses on socially constructed realities and sensemaking in organizations. Hence these arguments based on little or no evidence that proliferate popular management literature are detrimental to both female management and the traditional study of transformational leadership. Often arguments that women are better transformational leaders than men, are
  19. 19. 9 based upon research conducted by revered and accredited authors such as Carol Gilligan (1993) who reviewed people’s decision-making methods surrounding morality and found that women and men differ greatly. She argued that men and women fluctuate in their approaches to decision-making and because men historically have dominated morality theory, female perspectives are often ignored, brushed aside and considered childlike. Through a series of interviews, she found that the male approach to moral decision-making is highly individualistic, while the female approach values responsibility to others rather than individualism. While men highly value respect for the rights of others, women tend to ‘care for others.’ She defines these differences as the ‘justice orientation’ and the ‘responsibility orientation’ (Gilligan, 1993). The idea of moral decision-making was central to Burns and Bass’s initial transformational leadership theory and is often overlooked or skewed in current writings. They encouraged an approach that was not necessarily feminine or masculine but once again focused on the process of managing socially constructed meanings. The concept of female care is mirrored in present studies surrounding gendered decision-making processes (Harriman, 1985; Morrison, 1994). Unfortunately popular writers continue to use these theorist’s ideas to advance their argument that transformational leadership calls for ‘traditional’ female approaches of care and consideration and consequently argue transformational leadership, as a ‘style’ is the domain of female leaders. Statement of the Problem Prior research and theory applied to the concept of gender and transformational leadership in popular management literature has been misguided and incomplete, due to the
  20. 20. 10 following three factors. First, the primary data collection methodology used has been quantitative not qualitative, and when studying a concept such as interpretations of enacted practices, while quantitative methods are appropriate for identifying norms that can be generalized, qualitative methods often provide deeper and more relevant results; specifically considering the understanding that socially constructed meanings are often situational and not generalizable. Second, arguments made by popular literature are based upon ‘either/or’ logic reminiscent of past gendered argument for masculine leadership ‘styles.’ Third, organizational context is often not taken into account. Purpose of the Study Considering that changes in leadership could be attributed more often to environment than sex, that when leadership theorists compare gender differences in leadership they balance themselves out, and that the conceptualization of difference could be what leads to ideas of gendered leadership. The purpose of this study is to explore the impact of gender and organizational context on interpretations of the enactment of leadership using a qualitative interpretivist approach from the frame of traditional transformational leadership theory. Exploration of these concepts are needed considering that the overwhelming lack of evidence to the contrary has not prevented authors such as Rosener (1996) from making arguments based on gendered approaches that may in essence harm female leaders ability to lead. As Cleveland Murphy and Stockton (2000) state, “restricting women's leadership ‘styles’ to one acceptable type (participative) ultimately may be destructive. The very notion of participative versus autocratic decision-making grew out of contingency theories
  21. 21. 11 that prescribe the effective use of both forms of decision-making under different circumstances” (p. 309). First, this study addresses the social constructions of female and male leaders in three socially constructed environments or organizations to assess the meanings male and female leaders manage. By doing so, this paper assists in moving current research and popular literature away from the dichotomy of gender being an ‘either/or’ ‘style’ of leadership and refocuses the research lens upon communication and the interpretation of socially constructed meanings of gendered leadership in three different organizations. Secondly the study focuses upon a limitation of transformational leadership theory, that being, the limited focus upon the meanings organizational members or followers socially construct for leaders. Research Question In what ways do social processes construct interpretations of leadership and gender? Significance of Research A Goggle Internet search brings 595,000 hits on women and transformational leadership proclaiming, “Women Effective Leaders for Today’s World” and “Gender Differences in Leadership, Women as Leaders.” Although these articles seem full of hope for the cause of female management, these are the stories that are shaping the conceptualizations of gender in the workforce today and while they sound positive they could be in fact be reinforcing and recreating images of appropriate leadership behavior for
  22. 22. 12 women and men. Popular management literature and self-help books are currently setting the stage for future conceptualizations of female managers and leadership. As to date, the authors of these texts are making claims that transformational leadership ‘styles’ are the new frontier in leadership for changing organizations. They do so using the research of organizational scholars that as mentioned above could be misguided and misused. Although at this brief moment in time these arguments sound positive, in the future they may hurt more than help the cause for gender equality in organizations. While they sound seductive and progressive, what they are in fact doing is falling back on ‘either/or’ logic from the past linked with argument about the greatness of male leaders and masculine leadership ‘styles.’ And in doing so completely breaking away from the original intentions of scholarly research on transformational leadership. As these interpretations shift, so will ideas of masculinity and femininity and current literature will either reinforce past trends or provide room for new less restrictive definitions of gender roles. These factors necessitate the need for scholars to take a step back and consider what is taking place. New approaches to this topic are needed; further research needs to be conducted before additional claims on either side are made. Summary The following document is organized into four chapters: literature review, methodology, results and discussion. In chapter two, the history of leadership, transformational leadership, and gendered leadership are examined, reviewing the impact of the history of leadership and gender theory on current trends. Chapter three provides a
  23. 23. 13 description of the data collection methodology, data analysis methodology, and a detailed description of the participants. Chapter four provides the findings of the study and the final chapter includes a discussion of the results and need for further research. CHAPTER II: LITERATURE REVIEW “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.” - Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil rights leader (1929-1968) Introduction Following a brief introduction to transformational leadership, gender and
  24. 24. 14 interpretations of gender. This chapter identifies the history of leadership theory in order to develop a fuller understanding for the need to revert back to traditional transformational leadership theory and in doing so assist in correcting issues that arise within current research practices. In order to do so, this chapter examines leadership and gender research, transformational leadership research and current arguments concerning the two. First, the chapter provides an overview of the history of leadership research to understand current thinking regarding transformational leadership. Second, it reviews the history of transformational leadership and what theorists have done with the construct. Third, research both past and present on gender and leadership are explored, including current studies of transformational leadership and gender. Fourth, the limitations and contradictions of the theories are analyzed and addressed. History of Leadership Theories The history of leadership is often broken down into several broad categories: traits, behaviors, situations and relationships. Trait Theories Trait approaches include the ‘great man’ theories of the 1900’s and 1930’s in which great leaders are believed to have special traits or abilities that make them ‘born’ to be leaders (Cleveland, et al., 2000; Cheney, et al., 2004; Bolman & Deal, 2003). Traces of these theories can be found in writings about gendered ‘styles’ arguing that women or men
  25. 25. 15 are born with specific gendered ‘traits’ that make them better at one ‘style’ or another. These leaders emerge into the world with high levels of ambition and clear ideas of what needs to be done. They often are highly charismatic and people are drawn to them. Early systematic theorists compared the ‘traits’ of leaders with those of non-leaders and found little difference, which led to a need for further research and approaches to leadership (Mann, 1959; Stogdill, 1948; (in Cleveland et al., 2000)). Traces of these theories still emerge in contemporary discussion of leadership. Popular management literature often encourages ‘styles’ that are reminiscent of trait theories, one example being the discussion of transformational leadership as a ‘style’ in the sense that women are either born with or socialized with the traits that make them better at transformational ‘styles.’ Behavioral Style Theories Following the ‘trait’ generation, theorists began to look at the behavior of leaders or “what they do,” rather than the ‘traits’ they are born with. In the 1950’s researchers at Ohio State developed two sets of behaviors identified with leaders (Bolman & Deal, 2003; Cheney, et al., 2004; Cleveland, et al., 2000). These sets were divided into consideration (C) and initiating structures (IS). The C list included such things as “concern for people, their needs, and their relationships with others; IS encompasses concern for organizing and accomplishing tasks... a particular leader can demonstrate both C and IS behaviors, one or the other, or neither (although, by definition, a person who does not engage in either C or IS behaviors is not a leader)” (Cleveland et al., 2000).
  26. 26. 16 Theorists and instructors alike encouraged the use of both types of behaviors when managing or leading groups. This study encouraged the use of ‘traits’ stereotypically interpreted to be both masculine and feminine. This theory never promoted one set over another; in fact leaders were encouraged to use both for optimal results. Although the simplicity of this approach is enticing, “it did not appear to capture the richness and complexity of what leaders did” (Cleveland et al., 2000). In today’s fast-paced environment, leaders need to be able to adopt multiple behaviors and skills applicable to their business and the people they work with. This need to adapt led to the development of situational theories. Behavioral theories as a whole overlooked situational and inter- relational factors as well as the relationship between ‘traits,’ ‘styles,’ and situation (Cleveland et al., 2000; Cheney, et al., 2004; Bolman & Deal, 2003). Situational Theories In an attempt to correct these flaws, theorists began to investigate the interaction between organizational context and leadership ‘style.’ This generation of theorists noted that during the communication process with employees and the public, leaders often consider their work environment and situation before deciding how to act in a given circumstance. It appeared that the ‘style’ a leader used depended upon their situation or context (Cleveland et al., 2000). Research from the situational approach addressed how leaders interpret employee action and performance before they decide how to interact. For example, leaders who think an employee does not have the right tools to complete an assignment will attempt to provide the tools; but if the leader interprets the employee to be
  27. 27. 17 lazy and inept, he or she will punish the employee - same situation, two different interpretations and consequences (Cleveland et al., 2000). Considering these situational aspects, the manifestation of transformational leadership may depend upon the type or size of the organization and the interpretation of the gender of individuals within that organization more than on particular ‘traits’ of behaviors demonstrated by female and male management. These studies look at leaders’ ‘styles,’ behaviors, and effectiveness by inspecting how the environment shapes leader behavior (Cleveland et al., 2000; Cheney, et al., 2004; Peters & Waterman, 1982). It is important to note that when looking at organizational culture and leadership, not only does environment produce leaders, but leaders shape and change their organizational environment as well (Cleveland et al., 2000; Cheney, et al., 2004; Schein, 1992; Martin, 2002). The next generation of researchers moved past traits, behaviors, and situations and began to look at the relationships between leaders and followers. Contemporary Theories In these more recent theories, leadership is defined by interpersonal relationships and it is the quality of the relational development that dictates effectiveness (Cleveland et al., 2000). Theorists have begun to look at teamwork, group work, and how the organization functions overall. One of the most prominent theories of this era is Social Exchange; this theory suggests that people commit to relationships as long as the benefits exceed the costs (Cleveland et al., 2000; Emerson, 1976). In leadership studies, this means the leader and follower must agree to work together, and find a satisfying relationship if they hope to continue their relationship with the organization. Another famous theory that emerged out of this body of work was the Leader-Member Exchange developed by
  28. 28. 18 Dansereau, Graen, and Haga in 1975 (in Cleveland et al., 2000). This theory claimed that leaders use varying ‘styles’ depending upon the quality of the superior-subordinate relationship. For example, a subordinate who is also a friend may be given more autonomy and authority than someone the leader dislikes. Both of these theories demonstrate aspects of transactional leadership, for example, the interpretation of actions symbolize the quality of the superior-subordinate relationship. Transformational Leadership Theory According to Sir MacGregor Burns (1978) transformation in organizations occurs when leaders “engage followers in such a way that both parties are raised to higher levels of motivation and morality with a common purpose” (Maher, 1997). This approach to the subject often addresses leaders on a grand scale such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Adolph Hitler (Bass, 1985). Traditionally transformational leadership was not discussed as one method or ‘style’ among many to enact change in organizations but rather an exceptional occurrence emerging rarely. In fact, Burns stated that a transformational leader “recognizes and exploits an existing need or demand of a potential follower… (and) looks for potential motives in followers, seeks to satisfy higher needs, and engages the full person of the follower” (p. 4). Other researchers studying transformational leadership define it as, “the process of influencing major changes in the attitudes and assumptions of organizational members… and building commitment for major changes in the organization’s objectives and strategies” (Yukl & Van Fleet, 1992 p. 174). As transformational theory progressed it began to mutate into a method to enact dramatic change from within the system. These approaches challenge the process, question the
  29. 29. 19 status quo, and take risks in order to inspire a shared vision and facilitate common goals. Transformational leaders enable others to act, highly encourage cooperation, build trust, and share their power (Bass, 1990). They often set examples by modeling the way (Bass, 1990). These leaders encourage and reward group and individual achievement and appeal to the sense of moral purpose or higher needs of the group and organization (Bass, 1990; Cheney, et al., 2004). Studies of transformational leadership stress going past traditional ‘transactional’ leadership approaches such as Leader-Member Exchange and instead work to produce cultural change through employee behavior. This change is defined at the core of the informal organizational culture and changes the beliefs and attitudes of employees about the organization as a whole (Cleveland et al., 2000; Cheney, et al., 2004; Schein, 1992; Martin, 2002). Transactional methods can be broken down into three forms; contingent reward, management by exception and laissez-faire (Cheney, et al., 2004). Contingent rewards are the exchange of goods for desired results such as money for services. Management by exception is divided into two parts - active or passive. Actively managers take “corrective action” and passively, they wait for a mistake to occur and then respond. The final transactional approach, laissez-faire, is the overall avoidance of leadership by management (Cleveland et al., 2000; Wood, 2005). The theory progressed and theorists began to identify transformational leadership in all organizations. According to Bass (1990), the best leaders engage in four transformational behaviors and avoid management by exception and contingent reward behaviors. The four aspects of transformational leadership are called the four “I”s. The first aspect idealized influence identifies a leader who is morally upright, outwardly focuses
  30. 30. 20 on behavior that inspires admiration and trust, and instills identification between his or her followers (Bass, 1990; Cheney, et al., 2004). The second, inspirational motivation defines a leader who is charismatic and has a strong sense of vision for the organization (Bass, 1990; Cheney, et al., 2004). The third, intellectual stimulation refers to leaders who encourages and inspires creativity, innovation and risk taking in and among followers (Bass, 1990; Cheney, et al., 2004). And the final component of transformational leadership, individualized consideration, implies that these leaders act as a mentor and inspire followers to reach the top of the hierarchy of needs ((Bass, 1990; Cheney, et al., 2004; Cleveland et al., 2000). Consistently studies on transformational leadership show that when applied, leaders that use the four “I”s are rated as better leaders than transactional leaders and have better measures of success as well (Cleveland et al., 2000). In recent years Bass (1985) has begun to argue that leaders need to use both types of leadership to combat the increase of ambiguity and uncertainty in organizations. Gender and Leadership The following section addresses past and current research on gender and leadership that has affected the leadership theory landscape. In 1975 the Bem Sex Role Inventory was developed to address gender expectations. The inventory consisted of a list of sixty positive ‘traits’ that are divided into masculine, feminine and neutral. These ‘traits’ were developed based upon socially acceptable gender-roles (Harriman, 1985). When applied, the inventory identifies a person’s sex-role orientation by determining their “endorsement of masculine and feminine personality
  31. 31. 21 characteristics” (Bem, 1974). Theories such as these are often used to explain why men and women experience organizations differently and why their followers may interpret their leadership approaches differently. Theories such as Bem’s are applied in arguments of socialized behavior. Women, taught from the cradle on to be passive, dependent, and nurturing, fail to make the kind of educational or career choices necessary to achieve success or fail to exhibit the kind of behavior necessary to be successful in male dominated occupations. This explanation lays the problem anywhere but on the organization. Women can be blamed for failing to take the initiative to overcome the effects of historical discrimination; society can be blamed for socializing women and men into these roles. The solution is to train women to be more like men, confirming once again the ‘male is normal’ hypothesis (Harriman, 1985). Over the years both men and women’s lives have changed and gender roles have adjusted as well. What was considered inappropriate behavior for women and men ten years ago has evolved and, as this continues, Harriman suggests, we may begin to see the erosion of feminine and masculine stereotypes. Traditionally, men were expected to be independent, assertive, competent and strong while women were expected to be kind, friendly, emotional, and unselfish (Bem, 1975). Masculine and feminine then are defined as two independent aspects of personality but “two other gender role categories also exist within the literature: undifferentiated, or low in both masculinity and femininity, and androgynous, or high in both masculinity and femininity” (Bem, 1976). Leaders often demonstrate both conceptualized masculine and feminine positive characteristics but are interpreted differently by peers and followers according to their gender. For example, assertive actions by a female may be interpreted by organizational members as authoritarian and aggressive, while an assertive male may be viewed as democratic but willing to take the lead depending upon how far they veer from idealized gender roles. Current research on the relationship between gender, leader emergence, and
  32. 32. 22 transformational leadership is sparse (Moss & Kent, 1996). While masculine ‘traits’ or actions are often pared with leadership ‘styles’ in research findings, Moss and Kent (1996) argue this may have more to do with gender-role stereotypes and less to do with actual actions on the part of female and male leaders. It is more common for masculine (not male) ‘traits’ to emerge in leadership rather than in feminine roles, and both men and women at the upper levels of organizations tend to score higher on masculinity (Moss & Kent, 1996). According to Moss and Kent, the masculinity barrier prohibiting female leadership is weakening. This could be in some extent due to changing stereotypes and gender-roles. As interpretations shift, so will ideas of masculinity and femininity. Hints of this are evident in transformational leadership although there is not enough research to fully support such a claim (Moss & Kent, 1996; Cleveland, et al., 2000). Cleveland, Murphy, and Stockton (2000) explore the possibility of women and men differing in leadership and say that the answer could be yes or no. Rosener (1995; Cleveland, et al., 2000) argues that women have an advantage over men, as they are able to use more interactive leadership ‘styles’ traditionally associated with females. She argues that women are more comfortable with ambiguity because their ability to multi-task and handle unpredictability better than men. Other authors state that women are able to use higher levels of interpersonal sensitivity and empowerment than men, which allows them to use transformational ‘styles’ more readily (e.g., Loden, 1985). Conversely, other theorists argue that when you look at “the differences in the styles, preferences, and traits of male and female leaders, not only do you find only few differences, which are of little magnitude, the differences tend to balance each other out so
  33. 33. 23 that, overall, there are no practical differences in the ways women and men lead” (Cleveland, et al., 2000). In fact, major studies have shown that the difference in male and female leadership finds a balance in power. While men have more company loyalty and motivation to advance, women tend to have better administrative abilities, writing skills, and work standards in comparison with men (Cleveland, et al., 2000). Powell (1993) also argues that gender differences in practicing leadership can be attributed to environment more than sex. For example, “when women are in situations requiring autocratic leadership (e.g., the military), they are more likely to be autocratic than democratic. Similarly, men tend to use participative leadership in situations that require it (Powell, 1993, 1997 (cited in Cleveland, et al., 2000)). Transformational Leadership and Gender Expanding upon Bass and Avalio’s (1994) work on transformational leadership, theorists such as Rosener (1995) argue that with new conditions and increasing change in organizations, past ‘styles’ such as competitiveness and authoritarianism will no longer work. The driving force of the need for independence and diversity has lead to a need for new approaches to leadership. Change arrives with the rapid growth of technology and the rise of globalism. As societies becomes increasingly connected, the world grows smaller and smaller, and the need for diversity in leadership is ever more apparent (Cleveland et al., 2000; Martin, 2002; Cox, 2001). But theorists such as Rosener (1995) argue this ability to accommodate diversity is the domain of female leaders. These arguments often disregard theory that encourages the inclusion of both masculine and feminine processes in
  34. 34. 24 leadership. These arguments act as the binary to past arguments about the positives of male leadership over female and define transformational leadership as a ‘style,’ therefore contradicting the scholarly work on transformational leadership. Although these changes have brought about a need for new approaches to leadership, authors such as Rosener (1995) argue that transformational leadership ‘styles’ are the answer, while often there may be a need for multiple approaches, and limiting ourselves to just transformational leadership as a ‘style,’ may not only be restrictive but it contradicts traditional transformational leadership. Blumen (1996) expands upon this point by exploring in the opposite direction, developing a series of methods for leaders to achieve flexibility. While they are not necessarily new, “The revelation is that connective leaders must draw on all or a substantial mix of many of these ‘styles’ to achieve success” (p. 307). It is essential for leaders in this connective era to use a variety of talents, skills, and approaches to create lasting relationships with followers as well as their publics (Cleveland, et al., 2000). Leaders must be able to enact all processes of leadership and skills available to them in order to be successful and must be able to apply leadership approaches that are not tied to their sex or gender-roles, and the socially constructed meanings associated with such. According to Bass (1985) the key to superior leadership is building trust and respect in employees to change the organization from the interior. These leaders typically empower their followers and allow them more autonomy and respect in cooperative environments. As the argument has developed, some theorists say that women are often conceptualized as better at this type of leadership (Cleveland et al., 2000; Cheney, et al., 2004; Martin, 2002; and (Denmark, 1993 in Cleveland et al., 2000)). Yet according to
  35. 35. 25 Cleveland et al. (2000), “research examining gender difference in transformational ‘styles’ of leadership is scarce, and gender is rarely mentioned in the transformational leadership literature” as an aspect of effectiveness (Cleveland et al., 2000). The studies that have compared male and female leaders on transactional and transformational leadership find that female leaders, compared to male leaders, are likely to be interpreted by their followers as transformational leaders (Bass, Avolio, & Atwater, 1996; Bycio, Hackett, & Allen, 1995; Druskat, 1994 (cited in Cleveland et al., 2000)). This adds an interesting dimension: although men and women may enact the same approaches to leadership, the interpretations of these enactments may be strongly influenced by followers’ and peers’ conceptualizations associated with gender. Other studies have found that there is little gender difference in leadership and, “further research is needed to determine whether transformational leadership in fact is the province of women leaders” (Cleveland, et al. p. 304). Connective leadership was examined as well and it has been found that those who build strong relationships with employees are more likely to be seen as transformational leaders (Lipman-Bluemen, 1996). Research applying Bluemen’s ‘styles’ to women and men - both leaders and non-leaders - found women in both groups demonstrated transformational and connective leadership. But according to Cleveland, Murphy, and Stockdale (2000) because the study did not sample similar males and females “i.e. in the same positions within the same type of environment,” no gendered pattern in leadership can be assumed (p. 306). In another study, male and female leaders were compared on transformational and transactional approaches. Each participant rated their own level and then their followers rated them. The study found that men typically associated direct approaches with both
  36. 36. 26 transformational and transactional leadership while females and followers of both male and female leaders associated relational approaches with transformational leadership only. This is reminiscent of past research that states women who are tied to one specific ‘style’ are limited in their ability to manage diverse environments (Lieavitt & Lipman-Bulmen (cited in Cleveland, et al., 2000)). While some studies reveal a need for more transformational cooperative approaches to leadership, with less emphasis on competition, there is still not enough research to conclude whether women do in fact function better as transformational leaders and, therefore, are more conducive to current organizational needs and changes. In fact, according to Cleveland et al. (2000), arguments such as this may be not only be limiting to female leaders but also lead to interpretations that could effect ideas of leadership in the future. If female management is defined in popular literature as transformational and democratic ‘styles’- these definitions could strengthen and further gender role stereotypes, and when the next popular wave of leadership develops, women may once again be defined as “fitting (only) within select leadership positions” (Moss & Kent, 1996). Limitations and Contradictions of Theories on Gender and Leadership According to research on leadership perceptions, some argue that images of leadership often emerge from social constructions and not individual behaviors as was once thought. Consequently, for a person to emerge as a leader in a group, those around him or her must view him or her as possessing what are considered needed leadership behaviors. As was discussed earlier in this paper, people who demonstrate masculine methods traditionally associated with leadership will be more likely to emerge as leaders. This idea
  37. 37. 27 could explain why men are more likely to emerge as leaders within group settings and are more commonly hired into leadership positions. Research on the subject found that women do not do as well as men in mixed-gender group settings and are less likely to emerge as leaders (Karakowsky & Siegel, 1999). Often, women are conceptualized as being more easily influenced than men and thought to spend more time talking interpersonally within groups while men emerge as the leaders. Although the level and content of interactions may be similar, women will be thought of as more interpersonal and less influential by those involved in the interaction. Thus revealing the importance of conceptualized gender roles impact on the leadership process. Although an argument stating that transformational leadership is a ‘style’ conducive to feminine ‘traits’ and hence the domain of female leaders may sound positive now, they could in fact do just the opposite and reproduce negative and limiting assumptions of gender and leadership. The added factor of interpretation of the leadership process builds upon past restrictions. Women are commonly considered less competent than men within group settings and assumed to assert less authority than men as well. This added issue of group conceptualizations of gender includes more barriers for females. Not only are women less likely to “behave like leaders” they are interpreted as less competent than men with regard to traditional leadership ‘styles.’ With these factors in mind, while studying emergent and transactional leadership it becomes apparent that group interpretation is an important aspect of the leadership process (Cleveland, et al., 2000). Measurement of emergent leaders are based on group participants' or independent observers' interpretations of who leads the group. Distinctions between who leads in task-oriented and social-oriented domains are often examined as well. Because masculinity is associated with agentic/instrumental characteristics such as competitiveness, task structuring, and assertiveness, whereas femininity is associated with communal/expressive characteristics such as helpfulness,
  38. 38. 28 expressiveness, and consideration, it is important to distinguish among the types of situations where men and women may differentially emerge as leaders” (Cleveland, et al., 2000). Although conducted over forty years ago, one study performed by Megargee’s (1969) demonstrated the impact of conceptualized gender roles on leader emergence. The study found that when women and men were placed together in groups, the man emerges most often as the leader. In fact, even when high-dominance women were pared with low- dominance men, the men were still more likely to emerge as leaders. Adding another interesting factor - high dominance women were more likely to choose the man as leader – they actually handed over their power willingly. One interpretation of these findings is that female leaders are often considered unfit leaders in mixed group settings. Later studies in the eighties found similar results. Overall the question remains; with stereotype, organizational structure and leadership changes do the same theories still hold true today? While theorists use these studies to make arguments of leadership effectiveness, they ignore that factor of change considering that there has been quite a bit of change in the last few decades surrounding gender roles, stereotypes and leadership. A review of the literature reveals that while assumptions are made about gendered leadership, few studies have been conducted that compare women and men in similar positions and the few studies that have been conducted found more similarities than differences. In fact, “based on evidence from several research studies, then, we can conclude that there are few personality or behavioral differences between executive women and executive men” (Rosener, 1995). The studies that were conducted seemed to find that the interpretation of leader action by followers was more instrumental in dictating leadership than actual actions by leaders.
  39. 39. 29 Other theorists argue that the masculinity barriers limiting female leadership are weakening due to the advance of the need for transformational leadership (Moss & Kent, 1996; Cleveland, et al., 2000) but as these authors point out, there is not enough research to support such claims. Summary Although current research on the relationship between gender and leadership in similar environments is sparse, authors continue to theorize and make comparisons often based on historical studies that are frequently misrepresented or misinterpreted i.e. (C) and (IS) styles. Additionally, although leadership approaches are often defined by interpreted ‘masculine’ ‘traits’ this may have more to do with gender-role stereotypes and less to do with actual actions on the part of female and male leaders (Moss & Kent, 1996). As a review of the literature has revealed, although the subjects of transformational leadership and gender are hot topics in leadership research and popular literature, important aspects of the study still remain to be analyzed before more claims that may impact the interpretation of socially constructed gender roles are made. Considering this, the following interpretive study asks, in what ways do social processes construct interpretations of leadership and gender?
  40. 40. 30 CHAPTER III: METHODOLOGY “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”- Mahatma Gandhi, Indian political and spiritual leader (1869 - 1948) Introduction This section begins with a description of the three organizations where research was conducted. The following sections discuss the participants, data collection methodology, data analysis methodology, and assumptions and limitations of the method and study. Description of the Organizations This research focuses on non-profit organizations that promote positive community involvement with children geared toward boys, girls or both. The following section
  41. 41. 31 provides a brief overview of each organization’s mission, purpose and goals as well as statistical data concerning the organizations. Girl Scouts of the USA The Girl Scouts of the USA is an organization dedicated to young girls and women. Their mission is to create an accepting and nurturing environment in which young girls are given the opportunity to build character and provided with the tools for success in the world. The organization works with volunteers and staff members to inspire young women to strive for a sense of strong values and social conscience. According to the official website, the organization was founded in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, Georgia. Currently the organization has 3.6 million members in the United States as well as 90 other countries. They currently have 400 employees working for them in more than 300 councils. They also have 986,000 adult volunteers working for them “helping today’s girls become tomorrow’s leaders.” At the moment the organization is undergoing a complete restructuring of mission, values, and structure. Boy Scouts of America This organization was founded in 1910 to provide an educational program for boys and young men. The program focuses on building character and training young men for their roles as future citizens. The mission of the organization is to offer young people values and character, preparing them for futures in citizenship, service and leadership. The organization has more than 300 local councils in America alone.
  42. 42. 32 Boys and Girls Clubs of America According to the official website of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, this organization is dedicated to the boys and girls in every community that are left to themselves in the streets, or at home without adult supervision. The organization strives to provide these children with care and feelings of self-worth through positive interaction with staff members and the community. The Boys and Girls Clubs provide a place to learn and grow while learning self “competence, usefulness, belonging and influence.” 4.6 million boys and girls are involved in more than 3,900 locations in the United States. Data Collection and Procedures The following section covers the data collected in this study. Several aspects are addressed including: participants, access, and justification for conducting interviews. Participants Participants for this study consist of leaders and subordinates from three high profile, non-profit organizations: the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts and the Boys and Girls Club of America. Two female leaders and three to four female subordinates from the Girl Scouts; two male leaders and three to four male subordinates from the Boy Scouts; and one male one female leader and a mix of three to four male and female followers from the Boys and Girls club of America. In this study there are three sets of participants. The first set is female leaders and their followers (including volunteers) who work for the Girl Scouts. The second group is
  43. 43. 33 composed of male leaders and their followers who work for the Boy Scouts. The third and final group is composed of male and female leaders and their followers who work for the Boys and Girls Club of America. From each organization a total of four members participated. Within the study, female followers described their female leaders at the Girl Scouts; male followers evaluated their male leaders at the Boy Scouts; and female followers evaluated their male leaders while male followers evaluated their female leaders at the Boys and Girls Club. Data Collection Methodology The following section identifies the two methods of data collection and includes a justification for their use. Qualitative Interviews Transformational leadership has most commonly been studied using the MLQ form 5x - a quantitative questionnaire developed by Bass and Avolio, the most prominent theorists in transformational studies of the last two decades. Although a well-tested method, the limitation of this measure is that it provides only surface results and lacks the depth of information gleaned when using qualitative methods. Considering the theoretical assumptions associated with traditional transformational leadership, this quantitative approach is somewhat limiting. Because this study intended to analyze interpretations of the social constructions of individuals, data was obtained through qualitative, in-depth interviews with two leaders and three to four followers from each of the organizations.
  44. 44. 34 This recruitment process could lead to issues with selective sampling; however, the intent of this process was not to develop general quantitative conclusions about the organizations at large, but rather to develop a depth of information with which to deepen understanding of leadership practices within the organizations. Participants responded to open-ended questions relating to the four modes of transformational leadership identified in the transformational leadership literature, following loosely the structure of the MLQ form 5x. Questions used in the form were reviewed for general topics for potential research questions (see Appendix A). Such questions include, “Can you provide a few examples of how you encourage imagination and creativity in your employees?” and “How do you address the individual needs of your employees if at all?” Each question selected reflects an aspect of the process of transformational leadership four modes. Care was taken to avoid leading questions particularly when using probes. Each question focused on the leadership culture of the organization and the participant’s relationship to it, in an attempt to gather descriptive, open images of all aspects of both the leader and follower’s interpretations of the leadership process. Interviews lasted between .75 and 1.5 hours. Each interview was audio recorded and transcribed. Each of the questions encouraged participants to interpret and discuss their conceptualizations of leadership and the leadership process within the organization (see Appendix A). The interviews with leaders were conducted before the followers, and a list of questions was prepared stemming from the leader’s responses. For example, if a leader was asked to provide an example of showing care, this example was provided to the followers
  45. 45. 35 during interviews to see whether their response or interpretation of the interaction varied depending upon the gender of the leader. Members of each interview were assigned a number during analysis to maintain anonymity. Participant Observation In order to answer the proposed research questions data was collected that reflected interpretations of social constructions, their relationship to situational context, and the actions associated with the process of leadership. In order to do this, I functioned as a participant observer. Field notes were collected through observation during interviews. These observations were conducted over a three-month period during the analysis of the organizations. Observations were made both on site and at external meeting places such as a Boy Scout meeting at a local church. Data Analysis Methodology: Thematic Analysis Following the tradition of analyzing interpretive studies, the transcribed interview and focus group data were analyzed using the methodology of thematic analysis. Using this method the transcripts were read for emerging themes, meanings and narratives. These were used to create clusters of themes. When studying qualitative interview data it is often somewhat difficult to unravel patterns of experience and themes. Thematic analysis provides an excellent tool for identifying just such patterns and themes (Aronson, 1994). After data had been collected and transcribed, patterns of experience emerging in the form of direct quotes or the paraphrasing of common ideas were identified. Next, the transcripts were reviewed for data that related to these classified patterns. Once this step was completed, these related
  46. 46. 36 patterns were combined into sub-themes. As Aronson identified, “themes are identified by bringing together components or fragments of ideas or experiences, which often are meaningless when viewed alone” (p. 2). Generating Themes and Categories When the data was first collected copies of the interviews were printed out. Then the research question was written on a notepad using Owen’s criteria for thematic analysis, “recurrence, at least two parts of the discourse reflect the same thread of meaning, repetition; key words, phrases, or sentences are repeated in at least two parts of the discourse; and forcefulness, in oral discourse, significant changes in volume, inflection, positioning or the use of dramatic pauses or introductory/follow-up phrases that indicate the importance of a segment of discourse” (Owen, 1984, p. 279). Next the text was read through and any potential answer to the research question or information relating to it was underlined. When themes were identified, they were highlighted following a color code. Then all data relating to this theme was highlighted using the same color. Each theme was written under the research question with a description of what it represented. The text was reread in order to identify themes that were overlooked in the first few readings. If themes seemed to overlap or have gaps they were re-categorized.
  47. 47. 37 CHAPTER 1V: RESEARCH FINDINGS “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world - that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves.” - Mahatma Gandhi, Indian political and spiritual leader (1869 - 1948) Introduction The following chapter describes the most common themes identified during the study and places them into the context of transformational leadership theory. The initial research question of this investigation was, in what ways do social processes construct interpretations of leadership and gender? Throughout the study, it became
  48. 48. 38 apparent that the gender of individuals did not in fact have much of an impact upon the participant’s identification of the transformational leadership process. Members in all three organizations, both female and male, discussed themes of transformation. In fact, it was identified time and again that a person incapable of interacting within the transformational process, would soon leave these organizations. The following chapter describes how the themes generated by the study relate to the research question and places them into the context of transformational leadership theory. When addressing vision of the organizations, three themes emerged: “The Driving Force of the Organizations ‘it’s about the Kids,” “Shaping Future Generationsquot; and “Management of Multiple Relationships.” Here followers and leaders identified aspects of inspirational motivation and idealized influence. There was a strong sense of identification within each group to the cause of changing these children’s lives for the better. In fact, both leaders and followers alike identified the need for all members of the organizations to develop a sense ownership and vision. It was through the communication process that the transformation of organizational members came about. The themes, “Morality, Integrity, and Living the Values of the Organization - 24/7 Role Models,” “Empowerment, Honesty, and Trust,” “Connecting Task with Vision,” and “Ways of Seeing Vision” revealed a strong sense of individual consideration, intellectual stimulation, and idealized influence. Within each theme, interviewees identified how the nature of the organization leads to the need for all three approaches. Because participants are most commonly involved for reasons associated with visions of transformation, the organization is only as strong as the weakest member. In this sense, there was a clear understanding that the leadership process of managing meaning involved all organizational members. While leaders needed to
  49. 49. 39 consistently tie the process to higher vision for the followers, the followers in turn needed to do the same for the children involved. In this sense, the type of organization studied tends to draw the individuals that are more likely to interact within transformational processes. In fact, arguably, the overall mission of these organizations is to transform and enact social change through the social construction of the development of “self” and “community.” These themes became more apparent when looking at “Motivations For Followers” and “Perceptions of Power” It was within these sections that the need for this process became increasingly evident. Within the data, it seems that because of the type of organization (non-profit and focused on change), transformational leadership is more likely to emerge. In fact, considering the overall goal of transformation; the power structure; the nature of organizational product; and the participants, there arises a need for such processes. First, the overall mission of these organizations is to transform youth and through this process - society. Second, the structure of underpaid or unpaid staff leads to the use of inspirational approaches to leadership. What traditionally drove people to these organizations were ideas of fulfilling a higher good. As was addressed in the introduction of this thesis, the unique qualities of transformational leadership that makes it stand apart from past traits, styles, and behavioral theories is its ability to provide a deeper understanding of leadership as a process and not solely revolving around the actions of “great men.” This understanding allows for a deeper read of leadership. As is about to be identified in the following sections, leaders manage meanings and interpretations of these meanings through a process of creating change. While this approach still recognizes the accountability of the leader, it also privileges the
  50. 50. 40 social constructions of the organization itself. This concept is addressed in detail in the following sections showing the duality between the social constructions of the organization and leaders ability to manage meaning associated with them. The following sections first discuss the vision of the organization as discussed by leaders and followers, then, a section that details how the leaders in these organizations embody this vision and enact it for followers. Two Languages – One Leadership Although gender has an effect upon the smaller pieces of the process as in “how things are done” when it comes to the final goal of change, gender had no impact on whether a leader was interpreted as transformational. In this sense, the transformation happens at an organizational level thus privileging the process and not the individual leaders or followers. Consequently, the social constructions the organizational members create through the leadership process, dictate transformation. There wasn’t a great enough difference to identify alternate interpretations of gendered leadership. However, there was a slight difference in the language used by organizational members in discussing themes. For example, men within the Boy Scouts often discussed the process using stereotypically ‘masculine’ task oriented language. But, although these men were speaking in masculine terms, the processes of leadership they discussed were strongly transformational in nature. Men did tend to use terms such as, “build, structure, and discipline” while women would talk of “opportunity, care, and responsibility” both leaders and followers discussed the same processes of empowerment, growth, and change. One female follower did
  51. 51. 41 identify a male leader’s approach as “task oriented” but throughout the interview, it quickly became apparent that they were both actively engaging in aspects of the transformational leadership process. Often, when asked directly, followers were more likely to identify “feminine” styles of caring with both male and female leaders although the ways in which they showed these styles differed. One interesting concept that arose during the study was that of the social constructions and conceptualizations of gender that organizational members shape for future generations. It is within the safe spaces identified by participants that children learn their gendered self. In this sense, gender roles within the organizations do come into play. The ways in which organizational members construct gender strongly impacts and influence the gendering process of the children. Thus, within these organizations, conceptualizations of gender can either be reinforced or deconstructed for social change or stability. Traces of this idea repeatedly emerged within the data. Girl Scout interviewees discussed a complete restructuring at the organizational level. This was further identified as focusing more on future leaders and decision makers and less upon the girl’s interpersonal relationships. The Boy Scouts also discussed the social transition from traditional nuclear family structures and the need for change to accommodate new definitions of manhood in contemporary society. The Boys and Girls Club members identified this concept as well when discussing how the organization often shapes understandings of what it is to “be a man.” Just as popular culture texts are shaping constructions of gender, so are the organizations involved in this study.
  52. 52. 42 Visions of the Future Analysis of the interview data revealed that participants’ had similar perspectives on the purpose and the values of their organization. When studying leadership, and the interpreted enactment of such, this component is crucial in understanding how the members of an organization or organizations within a specific field interpret their roles and the roles of their leaders. In the case of transformational leadership, according to Bass and Steidlmeier (1998), “Followers identify with the charismatic leaders’ aspirations and want to emulate the leaders. If the leadership is transformational… its inspirational motivation provides followers with challenges and meaning for engaging in shared goals and undertakings… If such transformational leadership is authentic, it is characterized by high moral and ethical standards” (p. 2). The Driving Force - “It’s About the Kids”… Overwhelmingly, both leaders and followers in all three organizations identified their driving passion to be the children involved. The following section identifies the two most common themes concerning the shared goals of the organization and their impact on future generations. Ideas of empowerment, inspiration, independence, quality of life, and opportunity permeate the data. Although the goals identified for each organization differ slightly, they all contain the same message of empowering children to become responsible citizens, both now, and as adults. Our mission is to inspire and enable kids to become caring, productive, and responsible citizens. That’s kind of the end result. We do that by providing opportunities for our kids to discover themselves and to learn and to grow (Female Leader, BGC).
  53. 53. 43 I believe the goal of the organization is to further girls in their independence, their strength, and to grow up and be strong women (Female Follower, GS). Within this focus on childhood development, participants identified one of the crucial components of completing this vision as being able to inspire children to succeed in their lives through the development of individual skills, while also focusing on community, values, and morals. Although participants often mentioned the importance of providing the children with independent spirits and personal goals of achievement, this concept was immediately tied to how these impact the children’s community and society as a whole. There emerged a duality or balance between the two, infusing children with the ability to understand how their personal choices and actions affect their community from both the social and individual level. At the most simplistic level, helping the kids that come into this building to find inspiration…we want to inspire and enable kids to succeed (Male Follower, BGC). To build character in youth by providing situations where they have to make choices that lead them to independence and independent thinking, that takes them from dependence to independence (Male Leader, BS). Our overall goal is to develop leaders in girls, not necessarily [to be] the President of the U.S., but if she so desires to be that, that would be her interpretation of leadership in her life (Female Leader, GS). Participants saw this vision as being accomplished through providing safe spaces in which the children are able to learn and grow. Safe spaces that supply the structure, freedom, and support children need to “spread their wings” as one interviewee identified. By providing the children with a place to learn and grow, organizational members empower them to experience life in new ways. These safe public spaces build a sense of community for the children in which they are able to experiment, make mistakes, and
  54. 54. 44 interact with their peers. Although the reason for providing such spaces differed slightly from organization to organization – all three identified the need for their development. They have something to do, to learn, to empower themselves and to have a great facility that encompasses areas of interest for the kids and a place where they can come and feel safe and feel like this is their castle. A lot of the kids don’t have great homes, so this is the greatness that they can experience (Female Follower, BGC). By providing the children with safe spaces; a sense of empowerment; and an understanding of the duality between community and self; the members of these organizations provide the building blocks for the children to achieve a better “quality of life.” Young men are the purpose of the whole program and a quality life, for them to see and learn how to get a good quality life (Male Follower, BS). A life that is built upon the moral and ethical standards put forth by the organization - moral standards that identify what it means to be a productive citizen, community member, and future adult. In this sense, these organizations function as spaces for the moral development of future generations. Shaping Future Generations The next theme regarding shared purpose is the idea of shaping future generations. An idea that included multiple conditions including: advanced education, marketable skills, feelings of power and empowerment; life-long links to organizational ideals; structure, and an understanding of global community. It would seem that the enactment of organizational vision results in the final goal of shaping our cultural future. If the members of these organizations are effective, they will
  55. 55. 45 successfully impact future changes or impose consistency, on ideas of moral and ethical practices. They do so by shaping the way these children see, and interact with, the world around them. In accordance with this, the members of these organizations construct within safe spaces a reality in which these children develop their understandings of self and other. These spaces are both removed from and integrated within traditional spaces for social programming such as schools, homes, and neighborhoods. Interviewees discussed the need to move beyond these traditional spaces in order to develop a broader understanding of self. If a child is taken out of their traditional spaces and given a chance to see and understand their life in more encompassing ways, they are then privileged with the understanding that they too can impact social change. A lot of our club members don’t step out of their neighborhoods or schools so if we can take a group of teens to the college campus, then they can see “oh wow this is a reality that can happen for me” (Female Leader, BGC). We can expose them to a bigger world and put it more in their grasp (Female Leader, BGC). They can hopefully glean things [skills] that will help them become caring, responsible citizens further down the road (Male Follower, BGC). Often we connect skill building with attaining tools for success. One way of understanding these tools is to look at them as trophies representing a child’s completion of “tasks” or rites of passage. Just as within the education process, a child must learn a skill in order to advance to the next level. These levels ultimately lead to membership in contemporary culture. Through the process of learning, the role of these organizational members therefore becomes that of educators and gatekeepers. Consequently, these members’ primary ethical duty is to assist children in learning to improve the social structure of their community.
  56. 56. 46 This idea provides children with the understanding that it is through social action, and the education process, that we make our society stronger now and in the future. Make sure that kids have access to the five promises that statistics show is necessary for a youth’s success. Caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, marketable skills, and opportunities to serve (Male Leader, BGC). First, adults or community members who have “earned the right” to shape their surroundings must encircle the children. There is an important concept identified here - these adults must be there “for the right reasons.” Only adults that legitimately care for the future of these children, and have organizationally identified ethical standards fit this criterion. Second, the child must have access to safe spaces separated from traditional social structures in which they are allowed the freedom to learn. Third, they must be provided with proper nurturance. As Maslow identified in his hierarchy of needs, people must have their basic needs met before they are capable of achieving higher needs of esteem and self-actualization. Fourth, the child must go through the learning process in order to obtain the skills needed to impact change. Fifth, the child must be provided with a sense of other. The child must learn what it means to make a positive impact on their community, while also developing an understanding that community involvement is just as much a part of him or herself as eating or drinking. Once children go through these five steps, they will have been properly embedded in the organizational core principles and practice and are ready to become future citizens. It’s to assist the youth in growing up as good productive citizens. There’s a whole structure built around achieving those goals (Male Leader, BS). Once a child has gone through the process and structure of becoming a productive citizen, as defined by the organization, he or she will have the opportunities to shape and change the future. By going through this process, these children are provided with new