Challenges Conducting Research Within the Leadership Domain Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

One of the simplest and most common methods to assess leadership attributes are questionnaires. Questionnaires, such as the Leadership Behavior Description Questionnaire (LBDQ) use quantitative survey techniques to assess the degree to which organizational actors display leadership behaviors (Bryman, 2011). It should be noted that the LBDQ asks not the leaders themselves whether they display specific leadership attributes, but members of the organization. The LBDQ “provides a technique whereby group members may describe the leader behavior of designated leaders in formal organizations. The LBDQ contains items, each of which describes a specific way in which a leader may behave” (Tepper, 2011). However, questionnaires submitted to followers or leaders have a number of constraints which limit their accuracy. Firstly, the data collection method design can bias results regarding behaviors which may be ambiguous, such as forcing respondents to answer whether they agree or disagree, or rate something on a Likert-type scale.

Attribute studies, in contrast, attempt to link specific personality attributes to leadership abilities, versus behaviors. They too often survey leaders and followers about qualities they associate with leadership. For example, in a study conducted by the staffing company Robert Half, leaders and followers were asked to rank the following attributes: “Accessibility, Collaborative Mindset, Competitiveness, Decisiveness, Fairness, Integrity, Strategic Mindset, and Transparency” (Lipman, 2016, par.5). Although the ranking varied depending on the individual’s position in the corporate hierarchy, all persons answering the questionnaire ranked integrity first. Although this was taken by the constructor of the survey to suggest that integrity, is the most important leadership attribute, attribute studies have similar problems to behavioral…

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…cultures, a lack of trust in the leadership, and contested leadership positions (Smollan & Griffiths, 2020). While qualitative studies can be valuable in terms of bringing light to unexpected aspects of leadership on one hand, the narrowness of focus often make organizations reluctant to set policy or make generalizations based upon their results.

Thus, leadership, despite the general agreement of its importance, remains a very difficult attribute to study. First of all, there is widespread disagreement about how to define various behaviors and qualities associated with leadership. Secondly, the use of quantitative studies can force respondents into very narrow, culturally imprecise definitions of such attributes, while qualitative studies may not be broad enough to generalize beyond the leader and the organization. The best research methods with which to study leadership may be just as…

Sources Used in Documents:


Bryman, A. (2011). The SAGE handbook of leadership. London: Sage.

Lipman, V. (2016). The most important leadership attribute. Forbes. Retrieved from: attribute-new-study-has-clear-answer/#143889a84df2

Smollan, R., & Griffiths, C. (2020). Taking over or taking in? A qualitative case study of successful acquisitions. Journal of Management & Organization, ;1-21. doi:10.1017/jmo.2020.12

Tepper, B. (2020). LBDQ. The Ohio State University. Retrieved from: questionnaire-lbdq

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