The Value Based Leadership Theory

Consider the above quotations. These statements of leaders reflect commitment to a value position. In this paper I am

The Value Based Leadership Theory



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tory experiments and management simulations, US presidents and chief executive officers of Fortune 500 firms (Bass & Avolio, 1993; House & Shamir, 1993; Waldman, Ramirez & House, 1996).

The evidence shows that the effects of value based leader behavior are rather widely generalizable in the United States and that they may well generalize across cultures. For instance, studies based on the charisma scale of the MLQ have demonstrated similar findings in India (Periera, 1987), Singapore (Koh, Terborg & Steers, 1991), The Netherlands (Koene, Pennings & Schreuder, 1991), China, Germany, and Japan (Bass, 1997).

In summary, the studies based on various operationalizations of value based leadership clearly show that this genre of leadership results in a high level of follower motivation and commitment and well-above-average organizational performance, especially under conditions of crises or uncertainty (Pillai & Meindl, 1991; House, Spangler, & Woycke, 1995; Waldman, Ramirez & House, 1996; Waldman, Atwater & House, 1996).


The value based theory of leadership integrates the precursor theories discussed above with a number of assertions advanced in several psychological theories of motivation and behavior. Following is a brief review of the psychological theories that are integrated into the Value Based Leadership Theory.

McClelland's Theories of Non-conscious Motivation

According to this theory, the motivational aspects of human beings can be understood in terms of four non-conscious motives in various combinations (McClelland, 1985). These motives are the achievement, power, affiliation, and social responsibility motives. McClelland has developed a theory of entrepreneural effectiveness based on the role of achievement motivation, and a more general theory of leader effectiveness consisting of theoretical assertions concerning the optimum combination of the above four motives for effective leadership. This theory is entitled the Leader Motive Profile Theory (LMP). In the following sections we discuss the four motives discussed by McClelland and the LMP theory.

Achievement Motivation

Achievement motivation is defined as a non-conscious concern for achieving excellence in accomplishments through one's individual efforts (McClelland, Atkinson, Clark, & Lowell, 1958). Achievement motivated individuals set challenging goals for themselves, assume personal responsibility for goal accomplishment, are highly persistent in the pursuit of goals, take calculated risks to achieve goals and actively collect and use information for feedback purposes. Achievement motivation is theoretically predicted to contribute to effective entrepreneurship (McClelland, 1985) and effective leadership of small task oriented groups (House et al., 1991). Litwin and Stringer (1968) demonstrated experimentally that small groups led by managers who enacted achievement oriented and arousing behaviors were more effective than groups with managers who did not.

In management positions at higher levels in organizations, and particularly in organizational settings where technical requirements are few and impact on others is of fundamental importance, managerial effectiveness depends on the extent to which managers delegate effectively and motivate and co-ordinate others. Theoretically, high achievement motivated managers are strongly inclined to be personally involved in performing the work of their organization and are reluctant to delegate authority and responsibility. Therefore, high achievement motivation is expected to predict poor performance of high-level executives in large organizations. House et al. (1991) found that achievement motivation of U.S. presidents was significantly inversely related to archival measures of U.S. presidential effectiveness.

Affiliative Motivation

Affiliative motivation is defined as a non-conscious concern for establishing, maintaining, and restoring close personal relationships with others. Individuals with high affiliative motivation tend to be non-assertive, submissive, and dependent on others (McClelland, 1985). Theoretically, highly affiliative motivated managers are reluctant to monitor the behavior of subordinates, to convey negative feedback to subordinates even when required, or to discipline subordinates for ethical transgressions or violations of organizational policies. Highly affiliative motivated managers are also theoretically expected to manage on the basis of personal relationships with subordinates and therefore show favoritism toward some. House et al. (1991) found that the affiliative motive was significantly negatively correlated with U.S. presidential charismatic leadership and archival measures of U.S. presidential effectiveness.

Power Motivation

Power motivation is defined as a non-conscious concern for acquiring status and having an impact on others. Individuals with high power motivation tend to enjoy asserting social influence, being persuasive, drawing attention to themselves, and having an impact on their immediate environment including the people with whom they interact. Theoretically, if enacted in a socially constructive manner, high power motivation should result in effective managerial performance in high level positions (McClelland, 1975; 1985). However, unless constrained by a responsibility disposition, power motivated managers will exercise power in an impetuously aggressive manner for self aggrandizing purposes to the detriment of their subordinates and organizations.

High power motivation induces highly competitive behavior. Therefore, when unconstrained by moral inhibition, power motivation is theoretically predictive of leader effectiveness when the role demands of leaders require strong individual competitiveness, aggressiveness, manipulative exploitive behavior, or the exercise of substantial political influence. The power motive was found by House et al. (1991) to significantly predict presidential charismatic behavior and archival measures of presidential effectiveness.

Responsibility Disposition

According to McClelland, individuals who have a high concern for the moral exercise of power will use power in an altruistic and collectively-oriented manner. Indicators of high concern for responsibility are expressions of concern about meeting moral standards and obligations to others, concern for others, concern about consequences of ones own action, and critical self judgment.

Winter and Barenbaum (1985) developed and validated a measure of concern for moral responsibility, which they label the responsibility disposition1. The measure is based on quantitative content analysis of narrative text material. Winter (1991) demonstrated that the responsibility disposition, in combination with high power and low affiliative motivation, was predictive of managerial success over a sixteen-year interval.

The responsibility motive should be predictive of leader integrity and leaders' concern for the consequences of their own actions on others. Leaders with high responsibility disposition are expected to stress the importance of keeping one's word, honesty, fairness, and socially responsible behavior. Thus, we expect the responsibility disposition to be associated with value based leader behavior, supportive leader behavior, fairness, follower trust and respect for the leader and commitment to the leaders vision, and consequently organizational effectiveness.

Leader Motive Profile Theory

McClelland (1975) argued that the following combination of non-conscious motives are generic to, and predictive of, leader effectiveness: high power motivation, moderate achievement motivation, high concern for the moral exercise of power, and power motivation greater than affiliative motivation. This combination of motives is referred to by McClelland (1975) as the Leader Motive Profile (LMP).

According to LMP theory, the power motive is necessary for leaders to be effective because it induces them to engage in social influence behavior, and such behavior is required for effective leadership. Further, when the power motive is higher than the affiliative motive, individuals do not engage in the dysfunctional behaviors usually associated with high affiliation motivation - favoritism, submissiveness, and reluctance to monitor and discipline subordinates. Finally, when high power motivation is coupled with a high concern for moral responsibility, individuals are predicted to engage in the exercise of power in an effective and socially desirable manner. Earlier research, also reviewed by McClelland (1985), suggests that the achievement motive is a better predictor of leader effectiveness and success in entrepreneurial organizations than LMP.

Theoretically the leader motive profile is predictive of managerial effectiveness under conditions where leaders need to exercise social influence in the process of making decisions and motivating others to accept and implement decisions. In formal organizations these conditions are found at higher levels and in non-technical functions. By contrast, in smaller technologically based organizations, group leaders can rely on direct contact with subordinates (rather than delegation through multiple organizational levels), and technological knowledge to make decisions. Thus LMP theory is limited to the boundary conditions of moderate to large non-technologically oriented organizations (McClelland, 1975; Winter, 1978; 1991), and to managers who are separated from the work of the organization by at least one organizational level.

Several studies have demonstrated support for the LMP theory. Winter

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