Leadership Studies Paper on Effects of Leadership Style on Subordinates


The leadership style and quality extensively affects the capacity of an organization to succeed because of various reasons. The objective of leadership is essentially to motivate and inspire subordinates towards focusing on the organizational goal and objectives. With the suitable leadership characteristics, it is possible to unite subordinates, to motivate them and to ensure that all activities are run successfully without any hitches. The leadership style in particular has various outcomes on subordinates, and differs from one organization to another. The style of leadership can affect subordinate attitudes, job satisfaction and productivity in general, and is one of the elements that all leaders should focus on to ensure there is successful co-existence between leaders and subordinates. The Leader-member exchange (LMX) model provides a perfect indication of what the relationship between leaders and subordinates can result in. At the same time, different leadership styles have been explored alongside their impacts on subordinates.

In this paper, the relationship between leaders and their subordinates is explored in the context of leadership styles applied. The hypothesis is that different forms of leadership affect subordinates differently, resulting in varying performance outcomes based on variations in leadership style. To determine the impacts of leadership style on subordinates, focus will be placed on 4 different leadership styles namely, transformational leadership, transactional leadership, avoidant leadership and passive/ avoidant leadership. Each of these styles is characterized by various practices and features, which affect subordinates in different ways. In this context, the effects on subordinates will be explored under the effects on attitude, effects on perceived leadership effectiveness, extra effort, organizational identification and job satisfaction. The leadership style determines the capacity of the leader to direct, manage and motivate people. As such, the outcomes associated with leadership style will be based on the effects on their capacity to perform the essential roles of leadership, and how this impacts the subordinates. For instance, the capacity of a leader to motivate will influence the attitudes of the employees and their closeness to the organization. Similarly, the capacity to manage will influence the perceived leadership effectiveness.

Leadership Styles

Leadership styles differ from organization to organization, as well as from one leader to another. Understanding the context of leadership can help in choosing the right approach to leadership, and hence influencing the responses of the subordinates to the leadership. The first leadership style, which is commonly used in organizational settings is the transformational leadership style. Frooman, Mendelson & Murphy (2012) reported that transformational leadership involves the role of the leader in working together with the subordinate to identify gaps in need of change, to help in creating a vision that would inspire change towards the desired outcomes and to actually support the subordinates in implementing practices that would result in change. Four components are recognized for transformational leadership namely, stimulation, consideration, influence and motivation. These elements influence the impacts that a leader can have on his/ her people. Transactional leadership is one of parts of the full range of leadership models. This form of leadership focuses on supervision, task performance and the leadership itself. This means that a transactional leader can easily miss out on the goings-on in the lives of the subordinates while focusing on themselves. Furthermore, transactional leadership has been recognized as one of the leadership styles that work with people mechanically rather than empathetically.

Avoidant and passive/ avoidant leadership styles are both focused on the performance of the business. Avoidant leaders for instance, focus on the business needs and the productivity of the people (Frooman et al., 2012). They are also likely to be self-directed, independent and highly functional. The disadvantage of such leadership is that leaders tend to focus on their own ideas, give instructions as commands and limit the propensity of subordinates to give their own communications. Similarly, passive/ avoidant leaders, also called laissez faire leaders, abstain from making serious decisions in the work place, and also abstain from active leadership roles in the presence of subordinates (Skogstad, Hetland, Glaso & Einarsen, 2014).. Each of these leadership styles is effective in different contexts and what one finds suitable for one situation may not be suitable for another.

Effects of Leadership Style on Job Satisfaction

A study conducted by Molero, Moriano and Shaver (2013) explored the effects of various leadership styles on subordinates. One of the areas under consideration was the subordinate job satisfaction. According to the study, the avoidant leadership style was more likely to be associated with lower job satisfaction among employees. Employees would be less willing to work in a place with an avoidant leader than where they feel supported in their tasks. Another study attributed low job satisfaction to issues such as ineffective management and administration, improper communication or lack of communication among team leaders and with their subordinates. The leaders determine the communication practices within the team and the quality of information transfer to team members. If the information transfer is effective, team members are likely to appreciate their roles in the team and to work with their leaders towards common goals. The leadership behavior plays a crucial part in directing organizational communication, and subsequently knowledge sharing among subordinates. In this way, strong leadership results in greater job satisfaction and higher quality interactions among staffs. Asghar and Oino (2018) posited that transformational leadership has a significant positive effect on job satisfaction while transactional leadership has a negative effect on job satisfaction.

According to Al Jenaibi (2014) job satisfaction is a function of several factors including employee motivation, job placement, leadership and the organizational behavior. An employee in a supportive work environment develops passion for the roles, is easily motivated and is more likely to experience job satisfaction, unlike one in an unsupportive environment. Another study showed that leaders initiate organizational processes based on organizational cultures and structures. This implies that to some extent, the decisions made by leaders are subject to organizational culture considerations, some of which they are unable to change spontaneously. For the subordinates, the responses to the leader initiated processes will depend on the alignment between the leader given instructions and the organizational culture, and that between the subordinate values/ beliefs and the organizational culture (Al Jenaibi, 2014). Where there is a disconnection in either of the relationships, the employee perception of the leader may change significantly (Asrar-ul-Haq & Kuchinke, 2016). For instance, transformational leaders are more likely to foster job satisfaction by either aligning their beliefs to those of the subordinates and the organization or by changing the organizational cultures to reflect values that both the leaders and the subordinates embody.

Another factor that is commonly cited as a link between the leadership style and the subordinate job satisfaction is the level of consideration. Consideration in this case can be explained as the extent to which a leader gives a listening ear to the subordinates. In most cases, subordinates feel dissatisfied when their opinions are not considered or when they are not involved in decisions making processes (Asrar-ul-Haq & Kuchinke, 2016). They may be working only based on extrinsic motivation (mostly financial) without having any job satisfaction. In such a case, subordinates always want more from their leaders, who may not be willing to give more. Transactional leadership is more commonly associated with lack of consideration as the focus is on tasks rather than situations. Transactional, avoidant and passive/ avoidant leaders are mostly associated with their unwillingness to support employees and/ or lack of employee engagement, which results in low job satisfaction (Al Jenaibi, 2014). On the other hand, transformational leaders seek approaches for self and team improvement, which mostly involves engaging their subordinates in the decision making process. In this way, subordinates of transformational leaders have higher probabilities of being satisfied with their jobs.

Leadership Style and Job Performance

Job performance is intricately linked with job satisfaction and with motivation. Furthermore, Nidadhavolu (2018) points out that effective job performance is correlated with various other factors including the level of engagement, efficiency of HR management processes and general leadership characteristics. Productivity, which is also synonymous to performance, is another factor that is closely tied to leadership style in that subordinates perform better with work schedules that suit them and also when placed in job roles that fit their competencies. Placement in job positions for which one is not suited can result in poor performance. This explains why leadership is critical in determining performance capabilities of their employees. Molero et al. (2013) mentioned that job performance is directly linked to the type of connection between the leader and the subordinates. For every function, the performance of subordinates is measured based on a set of key performance indicators, which are set by their leaders. For a subordinate to be able to work towards that indicator, they have to be aware of the metrics in place, and be supported by their line managers. This only happens under a leadership that recognizes the role of employees in the bigger organizational goal and finds strategies for aligning the personal values of individual employees with the organizational goals.

In large work environments, it has been noted that participative leadership is required for sustainable leadership processes. Humans in such work environments were previously considered as part of the machines to work. However, this practice has changed with the introduction of leadership styles and the recognition that leadership styles contribute to effective work performance. In a study conducted by Horwitz et al. (2008) employee performance was perceived based on specific attributes such as execution of specific duties, ability to meet deadlines, team input to the work process, and achievement of departmental goals. A combination of these factors leads to specialization, efficiency, effective organizational relations and effective feedback among other outcomes (Basit, Sebastian & Hassan, 2017). With these outcomes, a subordinate can be said to have accomplished effective performance. This however, only happens where there are specific metrics to be used for evaluating employees. The leadership style also matters a lot in this. An effective leader is recognized as one who provides guidance and also shares knowledge with employees to enable them perform better in their roles.

This means that the overall subordinate performance is also a function of the leader competency. In the transactional leadership context, the leader attains compliance through a system that combines both reward and punishment. While employees can be motivated by such a system, the motivation is short lived and may not result in effective performance (Basit et al., 2017). On the other hand, transformational leadership changes from one situation to the next. This means that by recognizing the organizational goals, a transformational leader would monitor subordinate progress, identify the gaps between where they are and where they ought to be and helping them move towards their individual goals in the organization. Avoidant and passive avoidant leaders provide little or no support to the clients during role performance (Horwitz et al., 2008). A participative work environment gives subordinates the confidence and power that they need to perform well in their roles, unlike an autocratic work environment which hampers independent decision making. In this way, subordinates under a participatory or democratic leader will have the discretionary power to independently engage in their roles based on the guidance from their leaders.

Leadership Style Effects on Health and Social Networking

Work place (occupational) health is one of the important aspects of the work place. No reasonable leader would want their subordinate to incur occupational diseases. Poor health can result in a lot of economic and social impacts in the workplace. For instance, sick employees have reduced productivity, which affect their job performance. Additionally, employees would want a work environment in which their health is valued and they are given the opportunity to improve through personal work place protection and medication cover (Kara, Uysal, Sirgy & Lee, 2013). For leaders to advocate for effective health support, they have to understand the work environment in which they are leaders. Iqbal, Anwar and Haider (2015) discussed the impacts of autocratic leadership, which is synonymous with transactional leadership style. The autocratic leader pushes people to give results in a very short time, a practice that mostly results in extreme pressure on the subordinates. Such pressure can result in work place injuries as well as stress, both of which contribute to low productivity as a result of illness. On the other hand, a change of tactic would employ transformational leadership, in which subordinates can share their actual feelings with the leader, who gets to understand their challenges and does not push them beyond their capabilities.

The ability of the leader to communicate to his/ her team effectively also depends on the relationship between the said leader and the team. The leader-member exchange model has been used extensively to describe the relationship between leaders and their subordinates (Kara et al., 2013). From the model and from other studies conducted on leadership styles, it has been confirmed that the relationship between a leader and his/ her subordinate influences the quality of interactions between them, the perceptions of the subordinate about the leader and the level of engagement of the subordinate and the leader. Molero et al. (2013) reported that transformational leadership was negatively correlated to feelings of anxiety or avoidance among subordinates; passive/ avoidant leadership was more positively associated with feelings of insecurity and poor attachment of the subordinates to the leaders; avoidant leadership resulted in low levels of perceived leader effectiveness and greater need for employee’s extra effort; while transactional leadership resulted in high anxiety and low attachment of subordinates.


Different studies conducted on leadership styles have shown that various outcomes can be expected of subordinates depending on relationships between them and the leaders. This study has shown that transformational leadership style results in high job satisfaction, high job performance and good health among other outcomes. On the other hand, transactional leadership results in lower job satisfaction, low performance and limited or inexistent relationships between leaders and their subordinates.


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