Table of Contents
Introduction and Theoretical Framework
Past research has shown that an empowering leadership style can be effective in improving follower performance, but it is unclear how individual personality traits influence that relationship. This research paper specifically looks at how the extraversion of the leader has an influence on the effectiveness of an empowering leadership on follower performance. The research hypothesizes that a leader using an empowering leadership has a positive influence on follower performance, and that the follower performance is higher when the leader has a high level of extraversion, compared to a low level of extraversion. The hypotheses are tested with a sample of 100 employees and their direct managers. Neither of the two hypotheses have found support, suggesting that there is no relationship between empowering leadership and follower performance, and that the relationship is not influenced by the leader’s level of extraversion.
Introduction and Theoretical Framework
One of the most discussed topics in behavioral science over the past few years is the difference between introversion and extraversion and how these two affect the outcomes of a leader’s leadership style. Extraverted people, as opposed to introverted people, tend to be more assertive and sociable. Therefore, extraversion is linked to the level of comfort people have with social interactions and in relationships. Consider two teams, both managed by leaders who lead through empowering leadership- the process of sharing power, and allocating autonomy and responsibilities to followers, teams, or collectives through a specific set of leader behaviors for employees to enhance internal motivation and achieve work success a lead, however, a key difference between these two teams is that one of these leaders is introverted and the other is extroverted. In this scenario, we propose that the extroverted leader would be more effective in improving follower performance.
Furthermore, it has been proven that generally speaking the extraversion of the leader does positively affect follower performance/outcomes (Macsinga et. al). However, viewing extraversion as a moderating variable to the cause-and-effect relationship of an empowering leadership style and follower performance adds another, perhaps, a more interesting dimension that could help boards with choosing their next CEO for example. This moderating role of extraversion has not been examined yet and we, therefore, conduct our research on it.
We argue that the extraversion of the leader, one of the Big Five Traits, can have a moderating effect on the previous relationship and possibly intensify the positive results of the outcome variable, follower performance. The goal of this paper is therefore to assess the effectiveness of extraversion as a moderating variable to the aforementioned relationship.
In terms of practical implication, our research may be a contributing factor to hiring decisions for managers - top, middle and low level. Our research results may lead to a more thorough behavioral examination of prospective employees for corporations, contrary to an approach that focuses solely on dexterity. As opposed to previously conducted research on the relationship between empowering leadership and follower performance, we chose extraversion as a moderating variable. Therefore, this paper’s research question will be: “Does the extraversion of the leader as described by the Big Five Model influence the effectiveness of an empowering leadership style on follower performance?”.
The theoretical framework will take an in-depth look at the key variables and describe the proposed relationships between variables by using several sources of literature.
Empowering leadership can best be described as the act of sharing power, with the intention of increasing employees’ motivation and ameliorating their investment in their work tasks (Zhang & Bartol). Its philosophy is based on leaders entrusting their employees with tasks that hold importance for the well-being of the firm and gives them creative space to handle them to their liking (Gottfredson & Aguinis, 2016). Empowering leadership is one of the major leadership styles that is being used in business research, and its synergy with follower performance will synergize well for this research while gathering results.
Follower performance concerns several aspects regarding employees, such as their task performances, organizational citizenship behavior, and willingness to perform. Therefore, companies put heavy emphasis on follower performance, as the rewards for strengthening it will create a more efficient and healthy work environment, which will eventually lead to more success within the firm. There are multiple ways to measure follower/employee performance. It is often measured along the lines of Quantity, Quality, Timeliness, Cost-effectiveness, Absenteeism, Tardiness, Adherence to policy and many more (Hakala, 2008). More subtle criteria for judging follower performance can be found under the umbrella term “Organisational Citizenship Behaviour” (Lapierre & Hackett, 2007). These criteria include making suggestions for improvements, working extra hours (voluntarily) and just overall intrinsic motivation towards one’s organization.
We argue that good follower performance can be obtained namely through empowering leadership. Through empowering leadership, followers are given more autonomy and therefore creating a sense of empowerment, and under this condition, we theorize that through this feeling of empowerment, employees will feel a higher level of motivation and therefore a superior level of performance.
H1: There is a positive relationship between empowering leadership and follower performance.
The Big Five Model is a psychometric model that proposes that personality is made up of 5 dimensions, these include openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion and neuroticism (Robbins, Judge, Millet, and Boyle, 2017). The focus of this paper lies on extraversion. Extraversion is a trait associated with sociability, assertiveness, and talkativeness (Rothmann and Coetzer, 2003). A person with a high-level extraversion will prefer to be around other people, and will therefore actively seek out social activities with a large number of people. According to Rothmann and Coetzer (2003), as a result of their sociability they also tend to be more successful in careers involving social interaction such as sales personnel and management. Some example questions from a typical Big Five questionnaires involving level of extraversion include about how much they enjoy being around others, taking part in parties, and how they feel about talking to strangers.
We predict that there is a positive interaction effect between empowering leadership and extraversion that results in higher levels of follower performance. An extraverted leader will be relatively more effective in increasing follower performance when using empowering leadership than an introverted leader. Our reasoning behind this hypothesis is that an extraverted leader will be more likely to build a deeper and more trusting relationship, which will lead to more inspired and motivated group followers who will, therefore, perform better than a group led by an introvert.
H2: There is an interaction effect between empowering leadership and extraversion of the leader on followers’ job performance, such that the relationship between empowering leadership and job performance becomes stronger when leaders show high (compared to low) levels of extraversion.
Design, Sample, and Procedure
A cross-sectional design was used for this study, with data collected through surveys. In total 624 dyads were collected. Each dyad consists of a leader paired with its corresponding follower (manager-employee). The sampling has been done by groups of students from the University of Amsterdam through their personal contacts, thus convenience sampling was used. Every team was required to collect 5 dyads, and with 135 teams in total, that should have been 675 dyads. In the end, only 624 complete dyads were collected, leading to a response rate of 92.4%. The surveys were conducted over a period of one month.
The data set was split up into chunks. This paper uses data chunk 1 to perform analysis on, which included 104 leader-follower dyads. The chunk demographics are as follows: Of the leaders, 65.4% of the respondents were male, with age ranging between 20 and 69 years (M = 42.52, SD = 12.753), and tenure ranging between 0 and 540 months (M = 104.22, SD = 98.845). Of the followers, 45.2% of the respondents were male, with age ranging between 18 and 62 years (M = 33.47, SD = 13.138), and tenure ranging between 1 and 384 months (M = 59.63, SD = 78.579). On average the leader and follower had been working together for 41.29 months (SD = 77.867).
Of the three main variables, empowering leadership was follower-rated, extraversion of the leader was leader-rated and follower performance was leader-rated. All questions were recorded on a 7-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 to 7 (1 = completely disagree, 7 = completely agree).
Empowering leadership. Empowering leadership was measured on a 6-item scale of van Knippenberg and van Bunderen (2018). Example items include: “My leader is confident in what my team can do” and “My leader gives my team many responsibilities.”. The scale showed sufficient reliability, with Cronbach's alpha being 0.856.
Follower performance. Follower performance was measured on a 10-item scale of Dysvik and Kuvaas (2011). Example items include: “He/she tries to work as hard as possible” and “He/she rarely completes a task before he/she knows that the quality meets high
Standards”. The scale showed sufficient reliability, with Cronbach's alpha being 0.887.
Extraversion of the leader (Big Five) . Extraversion of the leader is part of the Big Five model, which was measured on a 20-item scale of Donnellan, Oswald, Baird, and Lucas (2006). Example items include: “I am the life of the party” and “I find it easy to understand abstract ideas”. The scale initially showed insufficient reliability with a Cronbach’s alpha of less than 0.60. However, the scale measures the entire Big Five model, therefore the scale has to be adapted to represent the extraversion of the leader, only using items 1, 6, 11 and 16 (Donnellan et al., 2006). After recoding the “Keep in the background” item, the final Cronbach's alpha is .695
Control variables. In order to control for alternative effects, control variables have been included for gender, age, tenure and time working together. Gender (male or female) and age (measured in number of years) are controlled for since past studies have shown that the forming of subgroups can have an effect on performance and the gender of team members can influence the degree of feedback-seeking (Xue et al., 2011). Tenure, measured in number of months, is controlled for since past studies show that experience has an influence on performance as outlined by Chen et al (2007). Time working together, measured in months, is also controlled for. A number of missing variables were declared, including the “prefer not to disclose” response for the gender variable and the unrealistically high 1400 months response for the tenure variable.
In order to test hypothesis 1, the relationship between empowering leadership and follower performance, linear regression will be used with follower performance being the dependent variable and empowering leadership being the independent variable.
To test hypothesis 2, the interaction effect between empowering leadership and extraversion of the leader on follower performance, the PROCESS macro of Hayes will be used with empowering leadership as the independent variable, extraversion of the leader as the moderating variable, and follower performance as the dependent variable.
Table 1 below shows the mean, standard deviation, and correlation of the individual variables. As can be seen in the table, none of the correlations containing the three core variables are significant. This is surprising since past research, as mentioned in the theoretical framework, seemed to imply the contrary. A noteworthy correlation is the positive relationship between follower age and follower performance (r = .154, p < .05). Other correlations containing the control variables are as expected, such as the positive relationship between leader age and leader tenure (r = .612, p < .01).
TABLE 1. Means, Standard Deviations, and Correlations
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N=100, *p <.05, **p<.01
In order to test the hypotheses, a simple linear regression has been performed. The variables meet the majority of assumptions required for linear regression. As can be seen in the simple scatter in Appendix 1, there is a minor linear relationship as indicated by the slightly upward sloping line of best fit. The Durbin-Watson test has a value of 1.792 (as shown in the model summary in Appendix 2), which is between the range of 1.5 and 2.5, indicating that the values of the residuals are independent. Multicollinearity is not present as the Tolerance is greater than 0.2 (as shown in the Coefficients table in Appendix 2). Cook’s values of all data points are below 1, indicating that there are no influential cases biasing the model. The final graphs in Appendix 1 show two sets of P-P plots and histograms for the IV-OV and Mod-OV. As can be seen on the P-P plots, a majority of the dots lie close to the line. Both histograms show that the bars are following the bell-shape of the line. This indicates that the residuals are normally distributed. The scatterplots both show a random array of dots, which visually confirms that there is homoscedasticity.
To test hypothesis 1, that there is a positive relationship between empowering leadership and follower performance, I used linear regression with two models as can be seen in table 2 below. Model 1 included the control variables leader age, follower age, leader gender, follower gender, leader tenure, follower tenure and time working together. Model 2 included the independent variable empowering leadership. The R squared for model 2 is .051, which would indicate that the model explains 5.1% of the total variation in the data. The more accurate representation of explaining power, adjusted R-squared, shows a value of -.032 for model 2, which means that the model does not explain any of the variation in the data (0%). The R-squared changes by .001, which is shown to be insignificant as indicated by the F-change of .056 with p-value .813 and means that adding the independent variable does not significantly increase the explaining power of the model.
As can be seen in table 2, the β of empowering leadership is .028 with a t-value of .237 and p-value of .813. This means that when empowering leadership increases by one unit (measured on a 6-item scale), follower performance increases by .028 (measured on a 10-item scale). The p-value larger than 0.05 shows that the predictor variable is not significant.
As the model is not significant, hypothesis 1 is rejected. That is, there is no relationship between empowering leadership and follower performance.
TABLE 2. Outcome regression.
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*p <.05, **p<.01. Model 1: R =.050, Adj. R = -.022.
Model 2: R =.051, Adj. R = -.032, F-change = .056 (sig. = .813), Durbin-Watson = 1.792.
To test hypothesis 2, that there is an interaction effect between empowering leadership and extraversion of the leader on followers’ job performance, such that the relationship between empowering leadership and job performance becomes stronger when leaders show high (compared to low) levels of extraversion, I used the PROCESS Macro Model 1 by Hayes (2018). The results can be seen in Table 3 and visually in Figure 1. The results do not support the hypothesis, as the interaction effect is not significant (b = .0924, se = .1212, t = .7623, p = .4479, 95% CI = [-.1484, .3332]), which leads to the rejection of hypothesis 2.