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Assessing self-leadership

Self-leadership is a rather new concept in leadership research and only a limited number of instruments have yet been applied in empirical evaluations. Previous research measures all predicate upon a prototype developed by Manz and Sims (1987; 1991). The subsequent catalogue developed by Cox (1993) covered 34 items and set the initial point for the Self-Leadership Questionnaire (SLQ). The instrument was refined by Anderson and Prussia (1997), finally entailing 50 items. Resulting from this measure Houghton and Neck (2002) developed the Revised SelfLeadership Questionnaire (RSLQ) which has been applied in educational and business research recently (e.g., Andressen et al., 2012; Furtner & Rauthmann, 2011;

Furtner et al., 2013; Hauschildt & Konradt, 2012a, 2012b; Houghton et al., 2004). Although the RSLQ represents the most trusted instrument in self-leadership research thus far, some dimensions still seem to lack satisfactory reliability (Furtner & Rauthmann, 2011; Konradt et al., 2009). Furtner and Baldegger (2013) hence suggest the development of an improved self-leadership measurement. Preliminary work has been undertaken by Furtner and Rauthmann (in prep.) who developed the Self-Leadership Skills Inventory, a measure that produced satisfactory reliability scores in a first academic application (a > .79; n = 270). With the present study, the SLSI is applied to a larger organizational audience for the first time.

Previous paragraphs argued that the transition from leaders to followers as field of interest has become viable in the past decades. This shift entailed the evolution of leadership from a hierarchical, leader-centric approach, to concepts including the followers as influencers of the organizational context. The path to follower-centric approaches is still underway and requires not only more conceptual attention, but also a substantial increase in empirical research in that area. With the acknowledgement of research in fields such as self-leadership, present work highlights the potential lying in this and similar concepts. Modern approaches to leadership take the perspective of substituting hierarchical forms of leadership, particularly in distance leadership, an organizational context that promises to become the predominant work mode in the future. The emergence of distance leadership due to globalization and technology applications forms a playground for the discovery of new leadership concepts that can overcome distance. For a better understanding of the value of context and its interaction with leadership, the following paragraphs provide an overview of what is known as context and consequently explicate what is so far understood as distance leadership. Empirical investigations of influences of self-leadership on work-related outcomes have been structured and concisely summarized in Table 1.

Table 1. Effects of Self-Leadership on Work-Related Outcomes



Variables and Operationalization


Uhl-Bien & Graen (1998)


n1 = 211 (functional team members)

n = 184 (crossfunctional team members of the public sector)

IV: Self-management DV: Teamwork effectiveness, overall job satisfaction, perceptions of bureaucratic obstacles

Teams’ self-management shows positive associations with effectiveness in functional units Teams’ self-management displays negative relations with cross-functional teams Self-management is positively related to overall job satisfaction for both work units Self-management was observed to have negative relations with perceptions of bureaucratic obstacles in cross-functional teams Self-management reveals positive relations with perceptions of bureaucratic obstacles when tested in functional teams

Prussia, Anderson & Manz (1998)


n = 151 students

Gender: 66% male

A: 27 years Work experience: 9.3 years

IV: Self-leadership DV: Individual performance

MedV: Self-efficacy

Self-leadership significantly and positively affects self-efficacy

Self-efficacy perceptions are significantly positively related to individual performance Self-efficacy mediates the influence of selfleadership on individual performance

Stewart & Barrick


n = 626 (45



G: 56% female A: 42 years Tenure: 15 years

Team tenure: 3.47 years

IV: Interdependence, team self-leadership DV: Team performance CV: Task type, team size, tenure

MV: Intrateam process

Structural characteristics related to allocation of tasks, responsibilities and authority do influence team performance

Intrateam processes mediate the relationship between interdependence and performance Greater team self-leadership results in higher team performance specifically for teams engaging in conceptual tasks

Dolbier, Soderstrom & Stein- hardt



n1 = 270 (students)

G: 102 male A: 19.22 years

n = 160 (employees)

G: 84 male A: 36.3 years

Study 1

IV: Self-leadership DV: Coping styles, dispositional optimism, hardiness, ineffectiveness, interpersonal trust, perceived stress, perceived wellness, symptoms of illness

Study 2

IV: Self-leadership DV: Work stress, work satisfaction, organizational communication, quality management, relationship to leader, team culture

Self-leadership is inversely related to ineffectiveness

Self-leadership is linked to perceived wellness and inversely linked to perceived stress and symptoms of illness

Self-leadership correlates with a more effective and satisfying work environment

Self-leadership is inversely related to distrust towards the world

Self-leadership is perceived to be related to a more effective organizational communication, team culture, and relationship to the leader



Variables and Operationalization


Carmeli, Meitar & Weisberg


Israel n = 175(6 organizations) G: 118 female A: 36.3 years Job tenure: 6.32 years

IV: Self-leadership DV: Innovative behavior

CV: Job tenure, income, gender, education

Self-leadership is significantly and positively correlated with self- and supervisors’ ratings of innovative behavior

Income and job tenure are significantly related to innovative behaviors at work



n = 304 (manufacturing)

G: 94.1% male

IV: Self-leadership behavioral focused strategies

DV: Job satisfaction, team performance

Self-observation, self-goal setting, self-reward, and self-punishment are significantly positively related to intrinsic job satisfaction

Self-observation, self-goal setting, self-reward, self-punishment, and practice are significantly and positively linked to extrinsic job satisfaction

The relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic job satisfaction on performance is positive and significant

Extrinsic job satisfaction mediates the relation between self-leadership behavioral-focused strategies and team performance

Konradt, Andressen & Ellwart (2009)

n = 310 (40 teams)

Team size: 9 members Team tenure: 32 months

IV: Self-leadership DV: Motivation, satisfaction, performance, team identification MV: Intrateam conflicts, task conflict, task type, autonomy MedV: Self-efficacy, instrumentality, valence, trust

A positive relation between self-leadership and performance is detected All elements of VIST (valence, instrumentality, self-efficacy, trust) show significant positive correlations with performance Self-efficacy mediates the influence of selfleadership on performance Intrateam conflict is negatively related to performance

Task conflicts predicts team performance negatively

Autonomy and task type do not display any moderation effects

Brown & Fields (2011)


n1 = 75 leaders G: 70 male A: 47.9 years Leadership exp.: 8 years

n2 = 225 G: 171 male Org. tenure: 7.6 years

IV: Self-leadership DV: Leadership behavior

MV: Leader locus of control

CV: Leadership experience, team size, follower social desirability

The strongest correlation of self-leadership is detected with role-modeling Behavior-focused strategies may help leaders to emphasize the effect of role modeling Leaders who focus on behavior focused selfleadership strategies encourage subordinates to follow their example

Neither natural reward strategies nor constructive thought patterns show correlations with stimulating a shared vision or challenging the process

Self-leadership of supervisors has limited effects on leader behavior



Variables and Operationalization


Hauschildt & Konradt


Germany n = 81 (44 in permanent teams, 37 in project teams) G: 31 male A: 33.4 years Team tenure: 32 months

IV: Self-leadership DV: Work role performance

MV: Collectivism orientation

CV: Age, sex

Individual self-leadership is positively linked to task and team member proficiency Self-leadership is positively related to adaptivity and proactivity (towards individual and team)

A positive relationship between self-leadership and individual performance is observed Results project self-leadership to show a positive relation to team-oriented behaviors

Hauschildt & Konradt


Germany n = 85 G: 67.1% female

A: 34.8 years Work exp.: 12.08 years

n = 63

G: 55.6% male A: 34.7 years

Study 1

IV: Self-leadership DV: Individual task behaviors, indiv. behavior

CV: Previous work experience, ease of imagining the scenarios

Study 2

IV: Self-leadership DV: Individual task behaviors, indiv. behavior

MV: Task interdependence, uncertainty CV: Work experience, ease of imagining sce-

Positive effects of individual self-leadership strategies on individual task performance ware found

The studies provide first evidence of a relationship between self-leadership and team member behaviors

Self-leadership plays a causal role in enhancing team member performance behavior

Note. IV = independent variable, DV = dependent variable, CV = control variable, MV = moderating variable, MedV = mediating variable; demographic variables reflect averages, G = gender, A = age

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