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Effective versus destructive leader behavior: The motivating role of personal values

Jody J Illies, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

This research explored the role of values in the problem-solving and decision-making activities of leaders using an established and validated theory on the content and structure of personal values. Undergraduate student participants completed a managerial assessment center that required them to solve managerial problems, complete an in-basket exercise, and respond to several questionnaires. Participants' past leadership activities were assessed along with their willingness to engage in destructive leader behavior and their ability to generate original, high quality solutions to leadership problems. Destructiveness was defined as striving for personal gains over collective organizational interests and/or focusing on short-term gains over long-term organizational goals. Results revealed that achievement values and power values were positively related to leader emergence whereas hedonism goals were negatively related to leader emergence. Participants' value systems were also found to predict their willingness to engage in destructive behavior. In addition, having an authority figure support destructiveness moderated the effect of values such that with the support of the company president, participants with self-enhancement values were more destructive than were those with self-transcendence values. These groups did not differ when the authority support was not present. Results also showed that participants' defined an ambiguous leadership problem in a manner that reflected their personal values, which mediated the relationship between values and solution destructiveness. Although personal values influenced problem definitions and the destructiveness of problem solutions, they did not directly affect the quality, originality, or creativity of the problem solutions. However, participants who engaged in problem construction generated solutions that were more original, higher in quality, and more creative than did participants who did not engage in problem construction. Overall, results of this study provided empirical support for the popular assertion that personal values play an important role in organizational leadership. Implications of the results for today's organizational are discussed along with suggestions for future empirical research that will help to delineate further the complex influence personal values have on organizational behavior. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Industrial|Psychology, Personality

Recommended Citation

Illies, Jody J, "Effective versus destructive leader behavior: The motivating role of personal values" (2001). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3022635.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3022635

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