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Introduction and Background of the Study
The relationship between leadership and organizational culture has been studied with growing interest in the influence of this relationship on the success or failure of an organization. This study sought to explore the relationship between nurse managers’ leadership styles and organizational culture. The setting of the research was in the nursing units falling within an acute care hospital. The facility had achieved commendable performance evident in the increased patient satisfaction levels. The data was collected from serving nurses and nurse managers.
The main question that the study sought to answer was whether there was any association between leadership styles and organizational culture in the acute care system. Particularly, the study sought to investigate whether laissez-faire, transformational and transactional leadership had any relationship with organizational culture. The researchers refined the study question further particularly to determine the extent to which particular leadership or management style was more relevant and correlated to the organizational culture of the organization under study.
Relationship between Leadership Styles and Organizational Culture
Leadership styles have been associated with organizational culture. Studies have shown that various leadership styles relate differently to organizational culture. Al-Mailam, 2005; Block, 2003 cited in (Casida & Genevieve, 2008) noted that effective organizations tend to be led by first-line leaders that manifest transformational leadership behaviors. Leaders who exercise transformational leadership style are likely to create and implement strategic goals that can be accomplished (Casida & Genevieve, 2008).
Transformational leadership was found to be positively correlated to the mission and adaptability of the organization. Managers who manifest transformational leadership behaviors tend to have associations with positive, desirable and flexible unit organizational culture. The organizations that have dominant adaptability traits enhance the ability of the members to cope successfully with the changing demands of the business and its environment. Those with dominant mission trait have staff with clear understandings of the strategic direction of the organization. Such employees easily realized the organizational culture because they have a sense of focus and common goals. Transformational leadership enhances stimulation of the interests of employees and stakeholders to approach their work from new but productive perspectives. Transformational management directly affects the culture of an organization and transforms it for the good of the organization (Ashkanasy, Wilderom & Peterson, 2011). Thus transformational leadership style enables managers to address the challenges that an organization is facing.
Transactional leadership style is based on contingent reward (Schein, 2010). The leader clarifies and clearly defines the role and the responsibilities of the followers. Material and or psychological rewards are issued depending on the achievement of the contractual mandate. When transactional management style is applied actively, through management-by-exception approach, the leader is committed to ensuring the employees meet the set goals and standards (Casida & Genevieve, 2008). When management-by-exception is applied, transactional leadership style involves only reaction to non-compliance and failures by the followers.
The transactional leadership style was found to have a relationship with the organizational culture, though a weak correlation. The relationship is quite weak because this management style is more reactive rather than proactive to issues relating to organizational culture (Ashkanasy et al, 2011). Further, there was a weak relationship between transactional leadership style and organizational culture traits such as involvement and consistency. However, the use of contingent reward showed positive and moderately strong correlation with involvement and consistency traits within the organization. Management-by-exception had negative relationship with involvement and consistency as traits in organizational culture.
The non-transactional laissez-faire leadership style involves the absence of strong relationship between the leader and the led. The leader continually abdicates responsibility and is often reluctant in making organizational decisions (Schein, 2010). Because of the nature and the approach of this leadership style, the results of the study revealed significant negative correlations with the organizational culture. This is generally because of the absence of leadership in this style. Under non-transactional laissez-faire leadership style, organizations perform poorly (Schein, 2010). This is due to the ineffective relationship between the management and the employees.
Future Studies of the Relationship between Leadership Styles and Organizational Culture
Further studies on this issue would focus on the trends of an organization that would suit one management style and not the other. This is because, although the study established strong correlation between organizational culture and transformational leadership, this leadership style is not universally applicable in all situations. There may be instances where the laissez-faire leadership or the transactional styles are more effective and relevant. For example, in liberal organization where every employee has a sense of responsibility, accountability and commitment to the organizational values, the laissez-faire style may still be used.
In order to conduct a study on the relevance of a leadership style in one setting and not the other, the researcher can for example, determine the dominant organizational behavior and its relationship to either transformational, transactional or laissez-faire styles of leadership. The study would identify the leadership styles that have contributed to the sustenance of the organizational behavior versus those leadership styles that have limited the realization of the goals of the organization. For example, an organization whose performance is dismal can be evaluated in terms of its goals, values and culture, the motivation of the employees to achieve the goals against the traits and the management styles that are applied. It will be particularly interesting to investigate how each of the management styles discussed in this work suit different situations and positions of organizations.
Different styles of leadership have different levels of correlation with the organizational culture. Transformational leadership style, for example, has strong positive correlation with the organizational culture. This is because of its correlation with aspects such as adaptability and mission. The active transactional style has moderate relationship with organization culture relating to consistency and involvement. However, laissez-faire style has negative correlation with almost all the aspects of organizational structure.