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Superleadership

In order for organizational leaders to be effective they must be able to revert to a wide range of leadership behaviors targeted to a specific situation. Leaders are not only expected to function as formal leading figure but also to trigger certain behaviors in followers. Leaders primarily need to develop self-leadership abilities as effective self-leadership builds the foundation for effective leadership (Furtner, Baldegger & Rauthmann, 2013). In two studies, the researchers assessed the interrelation between self-leadership and facets of Full Range Leadership. In the first study, the relation between leaders’ self-reports of leadership behavior and selfleadership was investigated. The researchers detected self-leadership to be positively related to transformational and transactional leadership, yet negatively to laissez- faire leadership. The second study included leaders’ self-leadership in relation to followers’ reports of supervisors’ leadership behavior. Outcomes show that natural reward strategies rated by leaders were positively associated with followers’ perceptions of active leadership (transformational and transactional, and less passive).

Building on extended self-leadership competences some supervisors are able to transfer these capabilities to followers. Those leaders can be described as Superleaders (Manz & Sims, 1991). The researchers claim true leadership originates within a person, the outside serves as a supporting structure only. The most effective leaders are seen as those who are not afraid to reveal and encourage their followers’ strengths. The superleader does not assume a heroic status; instead, these leaders strive to bring out the best in followers, whom they in turn expect to become self-leaders. With this starting point, the focus of leadership is entirely shifted towards the followers. Leaders thus become super due to the empowerment of others to utilize their capabilities (Pearce & Sims, 2002, p. 175).

Manz and Sims (1991, pp. 22-33) introduced Seven steps to Superleadership. The framework provides instructions on becoming a superleader. In the first step, one must become a self-leader. In the authors’ words, self-leadership is described as “the influence we exert on ourselves to achieve the self-motivation and selfdirection we need to perform” (Manz & Sims, 1991, p. 23). Subsequently, the researchers recommend becoming a role model and constantly displaying selfleadership behavior in daily business to enhance subordinates’ behavior. Brown and Fields (2011) discovered that followers are capable of detecting self-leadership in leadership behavior. Often this can be achieved by setting goals, particularly when goals are set by subordinates themselves, and leaders actively seek this behavior. The researchers point out that goal-setting is a learned behavior and can be executed basically by any individual. The more difficult consequence is to encourage employees to think in positive thought patterns and to allay doubts and fears of followers by expressing confidence in them. To ensure these patterns are followed, leaders need to reinforce good behavior through rewards such as incentive payments. Nevertheless, leaders must also ensure the development of an environment conducive to developing self-leadership. A positive and performance-oriented organizational culture may add to such an environment (Manz & Sims, 1991). The authors claim that everyone practices self-leadership to some extent, even if unconsciously. Yet, not everyone is an effective self-leader. Considering organizational settings, self-leadership is essential for all hierarchical levels and all individuals in an international corporation. Superleadership has become necessary due to innovative workplace arrangements, lean management techniques, and flatter structures in general. Followers today are expected to manage themselves rather than to be managed by someone else. To embed superleadership in the entire organization, not only managers but also followers should possess sufficient self-leadership skills (Furtner, 2010). In the sense of guided participation (Manz & Sims, 1991, p. 31), leaders are required to give direction with a view of followers becoming effective self-leaders.

Self-leadership behaviors of supervisors and perceptions of those by followers were investigated by Brown and Fields (2011). Using the Self-Leadership Questionnaire by Anderson and Prussia (1997) and linking supervisor self-leadership to perceived leadership behavior, the strongest correlation was detected with role-modeling. Behavior-focused strategies may help leaders to emphasize the effect of setting an example. The researchers argue that leaders who focus on behavior-oriented selfleadership strategies, practicing a high degree of self-discipline, would have better chances of encouraging subordinates to follow their example. Neither natural reward strategies nor constructive thought patterns showed correlations with inspiring a shared vision or challenging the process. Self-leadership of supervisors had limited effects on leadership behavior. Based on the findings, the influence of selfleadership on leadership behavior perceived by followers might be exaggerated (Brown & Fields, 2011, pp. 288-289).

Furtner et al. (2013) undertook the first attempt, to wit, to link leader selfleadership to the entire Full Range Leadership model. The researchers postulate self-leadership to be associated with transformational leadership and transactional leadership, although the latter association is expected to be less strong. For this reason, the authors conducted two studies in which they assessed influences of selfleadership self-ratings and other-ratings on Full Range Leadership facets. Findings of the first study revealed that self-leadership was positively related to transformational and transactional leadership. Self-leadership showed further negative relations with laissez-faire leadership facets. The authors projected this outcome as this behavior is often linked to introverted, hesitant, and thoroughly passive leaders (Avolio, 2011). The second study was concerned with the interrelatedness of selfleadership and follower-ratings of leadership behavior. The researchers discovered that self-ratings of leaders’ natural reward strategies did predict followers’ perceptions of active leadership. In other words, leaders were attributed stronger transformational and transactional and less passive behavior. Leaders’ self-cueing behavior was perceived as more passive by subordinates though (Furtner et al., 2013).

Superleadership is thought to promise many favorable work-related outcomes in subordinates. Since 2000, the term is used synonymously with empowering leadership (Vecchio et al., 2010). Yet, only few endeavors have been undertaken thus far to study the concept empirically.

 
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