The relationship between leadership styles and sense of coherence, self-efficacy and locus of control in a utility organisation
Hobkirk, Alyson Bridgett
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Developing and retaining leadership is one of the greatest challenges facing organisations today. Leaders operate in an increasingly demanding and ever-changing work environment on both a personal and organisational level. To be successful on both levels leaders require the correct competencies, behaviours and skills to achieve their business objectives. Aside from leadership behaviours, specific leadership styles, demographic variables and constructs such as sense of coherence, self - efficacy and locus of control have a direct effect on the associated leadership style. These styles may either be effective or ineffective and have a direct impact on the demonstrated leadership within the organisation. The concept of leadership styles in this study relates to supervisors, managers and leaders, within the organisation and includes aspects of leadership, such as transactional, transformational and laissez-faire leadership styles. The objective of this study, was to determine the possible relationship between leadership styles and the three psychological strengths, namely sense of coherence, locus of control and generalised self - efficacy. A cross-sectional survey design was used. The sample consisted of 216 supervisors, managers and leaders in a utility organisation. A representative sample of ethnic groups, language and gender groups were selected to make the study as representative as possible. Four questionnaires were administered, namely the Multi-Factor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ), the Orientation to Life Questionnaire (OLQ), the Generalised Perceived Self-efficacy Scale (GSES) and the Work Locus of Control Scale (LOC). In the study, sense of coherence is conceptualised as a disposition that allows a person to select appropriate strategies to cope with stressors. Individuals with a strong sense of coherence, will experience information from their environment, which falls within their subjective spheres of interest, as comprehensible, manageable and meaningful. Generalised self - efficacy is conceptualised as a general, stable trait, which is related to individuals' beliefs regarding the ability to mobilise their motivation, cognitive resources and actions to comply with demands by a situation. The locus of control concept refers to individuals' beliefs regarding their behaviour and the outcomes thereof. Similarly, individuals with an internal locus of control, believe that outcomes in their lives are the result of their own internal attributes, whereas individuals with an external locus of control believe that outcomes in their lives are beyond their control. Cronbach alpha coefficients and factor analysis were used to determine the reliability and validity of the tests. Descriptive statistics (means, standard deviations, skewness and kurtosis) were used in the compiling of the profile of characteristics of gender and leadership styles as manifested in the group, while second-order factor analysis was used to look at the nature of the situational characteristics of leadership styles. Empirical findings in the study indicated that supervisors and managers perceived their own leadership styles as being more transformational than transactional. Possible reasons for this perception included the questionnaire being a self-assessment of individual styles as opposed to an objective multi-rater evaluation by peers and colleagues. The implications of this perception are quite significant in that the actual behaviour being observed and demonstrated within the organisation is more transactional. In addition, there was significant evidence of a substantial level of non-leadership being displayed in the study. Findings indicated that tenure significantly affected the type of leadership style perceived. This was made evident in that leaders who were employed for five years and less being more transformational in their leadership style than those employed for ten years and more, being more transactional and even being non-leaders (laissez-faire). In addition, supervisors and managers in the study expressed high levels of sense of coherence, which suggested that they experienced life events as manageable and viewed them as challenges. Regarding levels of self-efficacy, a significant relationship was found between self-efficacy and leadership; as the more transformational the perceived leadership style, the higher the level of self-efficacy. Furthermore, educated managers experienced lower levels of self-efficacy than those managers who had a technical qualification, which empowered them with easily transferable skills in the workplace. A significant relationship was also found between locus of control and non-leadership, which suggested that managers experienced significant levels of external locus of control. This implies that managers perceive the results of their actions due to forces beyond their control. The result of which results in stress, absenteeism and job dissatisfaction. Recommendations for further research were made, as well as recommendations in regard of the company concerned.