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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(1978) found that LMP was predictive of the career success of entry level managers in non-technical positions in the US Navy over an eight-year interval. Both McClelland and Boyatzis (1982), and Winter (1991), in separate analyses of the same data but with different operationalizations of LMP, found similar results at AT&T over a sixteen-year interval. McClelland and Burnham (1976) found high-LMP managers had more supportive and rewarding organizational climates, and higher performing sales groups than low-LMP managers did in a large sales organization. House, et al. (1991) found that the motive components of the LMP predicted US presidential charisma and presidential performance effectiveness.

Since high LMP leaders have greater power than affiliative motivation it is expected that they will be assertive and at least moderately directive. Further, since they have high responsibility motivation it is expected that thay will have highly internalized idological values - values concerning what is morally right and wrong - and that they will thus stress ideological value orientation, integrity, and fairness, as explained above, both verbally and through personal example.

The Path-Goal Theory of Leadership

The essence of path-goal theory is that leader behaviors will be effective when such behaviors complement formal organizational practices and the informal social system by providing direction, clarification, support and motivational incentives to subordinates, which are not otherwise provided (House, 1971; House & Mitchell, 1974; House, 1996). According to the 1996 version of path-goal theory, leaders who give approval and recognition of subordinates, contingent on performance and in a fair manner, will clarify expectancies of subordinates concerning work goals and rewards, and will effectively motivate subordinates. This theory also predicts that leader consideration toward subordinates provides the psychological support subordinates require, especially in times of stress and frustration.

Path-goal theory suggests that either participative or directive leader behavior can provide psychological structure and direction and therefore clarify subordinates' role demands. Theoretically, directive leader behavior will be dysfunctional and participative leader behavior will be functional when subordinates are highly involved in their work, perceive themselves as having a high level of task related knowledge, and/or prefer a high level of autonomy. Meta-analyses of 135 relationships tested in prior studies provide support for these assertions (Wofford & Liska, 1993).

Dissonance Theory and Competing Values

According to cognitive dissonance theory, individuals experience anxiety-inducing cognitive dissonance when their self-evaluative cognitions, feelings and behavior are in conflict with each other (Festinger, 1980). Under such conditions, individuals are strongly motivated to reduce the dissonance by changing one or more of the dissonant components--either their behavior, their cognitions, or their feelings. It follows from dissonance theory that when leaders appeal to ideological values of followers and also administer extrinsic material rewards strictly contingent on follower performance, they will induce cognitive dissonance in followers. Offering strong extrinsic incentives for doing what is claimed to be morally correct will theoretically induce dissonance, and is likely to undermine the effects of leaders' appeals to ideological values. From dissonance theory, we would expect that with the exception of social rewards such as approval and recognition, contingent reward behavior on the part of leaders will undermine the effects of value based leader behavior.

Equity Theory

Equity theory asserts that when individuals perceive the ratio of their contributions to their rewards (intrinsic or extrinsic) to be equal to the ratio of contributions to rewards of others, they will believe that they are treated fairly (Adams, 1963). We expect that under conditions of perceived unfairness followers will feel resentment, be demotivated, will not support and may even resist attempts by leaders to influence them.

Situational Strength

Mischel (1973) has argued that the psychological strength of situations influences the degree to which individual dispositions such as motives or personality traits are expressed behaviorally. Strong situations are situations in which there are strong behavioral norms, strong incentives for specific types of behaviors, and clear expectations concerning what behaviors are rewarded. According to this argument, in strong situations, motivational or personality tendencies are constrained and there will be little behavioral expression of individual dispositions. Thus, in organizations that are highly formalized and governed by well-established role expectations, norms, rules, policies and procedures, there is less opportunity for organizational members to behaviorally express their dispositional tendencies.

Theoretically, in strong psychological situations, leader motives have less influence on leader behavior, and leader behavior has less influence on subordinates and on organizational outcomes than in weak psychological situations. Studies by Monson, Healy and Chernick (1982), Lee, Ashford, and Bobko (1990), and Barrick and Mount (1993) have demonstrated support for Mischel's situational strength argument.


This theory consists of six axioms and twenty-seven propositions that relate leader behavior, leader motives, and situational variables to leader effectiveness.

The Parsimonious MetaProposition of Value Based Leadership

Value based leadership theory is based on the metaproposition that non-conscious motives and motivation based on strongly internalized values is stronger, more pervasive, and more enduring than motivation based on instrumental calculations of anticipated rewards or motivation based on threat and avoidance of punishment. The axioms and propositions that follow are derived from and can all be explained in terms of this parsimonious meta-proposition.

The Value Based Leader Behavior Syndrome

Behaviors that characterize value based leadership include a) articulation of a challenging vision of a better future to which followers are claimed to have a moral right; b) unusual leader determination, persistence, and self-sacrifice in the interest of the vision and the values inherent in the vision; c) communication of high performance expectations of followers and confidence in their ability to contribute to the collective; d) display of self-confidence, confidence in followers, and confidence in the attainment of the vision; e) display of integrity; f) expressions of concern for the interests of followers and the collective; g) positive evaluation of followers and the collective; h) instrumental and symbolic behaviors that emphasize and reinforce the values inherent in the collective vision; i) role modelling behaviors that set a personal example of the values inherent in the collective vision; j) frame-alignment behaviors--behaviors intended to align followers' attitudes, schemata, and frames with the values of the collective vision; and, k) behaviors that arouse follower motives relevant to the pursuit of the vision. We refer to these behaviors collectively as the value based leader behavior syndrome.

This specification of value based leader behaviors integrates the behaviors specified in prior extensions of the 1976 theory of charismatic leadership as well as behaviors specified in other theories of charismatic, transformational and visionary leadership. House and Shamir (1993) provide the rationale for inclusion of the above behaviors in the theoretical leader behavior syndrome.


Axioms are statements, the validity of which are taken for granted, either because the enjoy substantial empirical evidence or becuse they cannot be tested. Axioms provide a foundation for more specific statements, such as propositions. The axioms stated here provide the foundation for the selection of leader behaviors from among all of the leader behaviors specified in the various theories described above.

Axioms Concerning Human Motivation

1. Humans tend to be not only pragmatic and goal-oriented, but are also self-expressive. It is assumed that behavior is not only instrumental-calculative, but also expressive of feelings, aesthetic values and self-concepts. We "do" things because of who we "are," because by doing them we establish and affirm an identity for ourselves, at times even when our behavior does not serve our materialistic or pragmatic self-interests.

2. People are motivated to maintain and enhance their generalized self-efficacy and self-worth. Generalized self-efficacy is based on a sense of competence, power, or ability to cope with and control one's environment. Self-worth is based on a sense of virtue and moral worth and is grounded in norms and values concerning conduct.

3. People are also motivated to retain and increase their sense of self-consistency. Self-consistency refers to correspondence among components of the self-concept at a given time, to continuity of the self-concept over time, and to correspondence between the self-concept and behavior. People derive a sense of "meaning" from continuity between the past, the present and the projected future, and from the correspondence between their behavior and self-concept.

4. Self-concepts are composed of values, perceptions of self-worth, efficacy, and

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