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The Value Based Leadership Theory
Managers do things right
Leaders do the right things…
Value Based Leadership Theory
“Leaders are dealers in hope” Bonaparte Napoleon
“We will build a winning tradition” Vince Lombardi to the Green
Consider the above quotations. These statements of leaders reflect
commitment to a value position. In this paper I am going to describe a
brand new theory of leadership, developed by Professor House - the Value
I am deeply interested in the question of leadership, and I do think,
that this question and the existing theories have a long life to live.
A BRIEF HISTORICAL REVIEW
During the period between the mid-seventies and the present time a
number of theories have been introduced into the leadership literature.
I believe these theories are all of a common genre. They attempt to explain how leaders are able to lead organizations to attain outstanding accomplishments such as the founding and growing of successful entrepreneurial firms, corporate turnarounds in the face of overwhelming competition, military victories in the face of superior forces, leadership of successful social movements and movements for independence from colonial rule or political tyranny. They also attempt to explain how certain leaders are able to achieve extraordinary levels of follower motivation, admiration, respect, trust, commitment, dedication, loyalty, and performance.
The dependent variables of earlier theories are follower expectations, satisfaction, and normal levels of performance. The dependent variables of the more recent theories include a number of affective consequences such as followers’ emotional attachment to leaders; followers’ emotional and motivational arousal, and thus enhancement of follower valences and values with respect to the missions articulated by leaders; followers’ trust and confidence in leaders; and values that are of major importance to the followers. These more recent theories also address the effect of leaders on several follower conditions not addressed in earlier theories, such as followers' self-worth and self-efficacy perceptions, and identification with the leader’s vision.
Earlier theories describe leader behavior that are theoretically
instrumental to follower performance and satisfy follower needs for
support, generally referred to as task-and person-oriented leader behaviors
Earlier theories take follower attitudes, values, desires, and preferences as given. The more recent theory claim that leaders can have substantial, if not profound effects on these affective and cognitive states of followers. Accordingly, leaders are claimed to transform both individuals and total organizations by infusing them with moral purpose, thus appealing to ideological values and emotions of organizational members, rather than by offering material incentives and the threat of punishment, or by appealing to pragmatic or instrumental values.
Also, McClelland (1975) introduced a theory intended to explain leader effectiveness as a function of a specific combination of motives referred to as the Leader Motive Profile (LMP). As will be shown below, this theory complements the newer theories referred to above.
Since the early 1980s, more than fifty empirical studies have been
conducted to test the validity of the more recent theories of leadership.
VALUE BASED LEADERSHIP THEORY
The theory is intended to integrate the newer theories and the empirical evidence alluded to above. Value based leadership is defined as a relationship between an individual (leader) and one or more followers based on shared strongly internalized ideological values espoused by the leader and strong follwower identification with these values. Ideological values are values concerning what is morally right and wrong. Such values are expressed in terms of personal moral responsibility, altruism, making significant social contributions to others, concern for honesty, fairness, and meeting obligations to others such as followers, customers, or organizational stakeholders. Value based leadership is asserted to result in: a) exceptionally strong identification of followers with the leader, the collective vision espoused by the leader, and the collective; b) internalized commitment to the vision of the leader and to the collective; c) arousal of follower motives that are relevant to the accomplishment of the collective vision; and d) follower willingness to make substantial self sacrifices and extend effort above and beyond the call of duty.
The title Value Based Leadership Theory has been chosen to reflect the
essence of the genre of leadership described by the theory. The 1976
theory of charismatic leadership is a precursor to the value based
leadership theory. The title “charismatic leadership” has been chosen
because of its cavalier popular connotation. The term charisma is often
taken in the colloquial sense, rather than the somewhat technical sense
conceived by Max Weber. The word charisma commonly invokes impressions of a
person who is charming, attractive, and sometimes macho, flamboyant, and
sexually appealing. In contrast, Value Based Leadership is intended to
convey the notion of a leader who arouses follower latent values or causes
followers to internalize new values. Such value communication can be
enacted in a quiet, non-emotionally expressive manner or in a more
emotionally expressive manner. Examples of leaders who have communicated
values to followers in an emotionally expressive manner are Winston
A second reason for abandoning the term charisma is that in current
usage it implies that the collectivities led by charismatic leaders are
highly leader-centered and that the leader is the source of all, or almost
all, organizational strategy and inspiration of followers. One popular
conception of charismatic leadership is that it is necessarily highly
directive and disempowering of followers (Lindholm, 1990). In this paper,
The Process and Effects of Value Based Leadership
In this section, an overview of what Value Based leadership is and how
it works is presented. There is both theory and empirical evidence to
suggest that value based leadership has a substantial effect on
organizational performance. Waldman and his associates reported two studies
of value based leader behavior as an antecedent to organizational
profitability (Waldman, Ramirez & House, 1996; Waldman, Atwater & House,
The theoretical process by which value-based leadership functions is described in the following paragraphs. Evidence for this process is presented in more detail in later sections in which the specific theories contributing to value based leadership theory is discussed.
Value based leaders infuse collectives, organizations, and work with ideological values by articulating an ideological vision, a vision of a better future to which followers are claimed to have a moral right. By claiming that followers have this right, the values articulated in the vision are rendered ideological - expressions of what is morally right and good. Ideological values are usually, if not always, end values which are intrinsically satisfying in their own right. In contrast to pragmatic values such as material gain, pay, and status, end values cannot be exchanged for other values. Examples of end values are independence, dignity, equality, the right to education and self-determination, beauty, and a world of peace and order. Ideological values theoretically resonate with the deeply held values and emotions of followers.
Acccording to value based leadership theory the visions articulated by this genre of leaders are consistent with the collective identity of the followers, and are emotionally and motivationally arousing. Emotional and motivational arousal induces follower identification with the collective vision and with the collective, results in enhncement of follower self- efficacy and self-worth, and have powerful motivtional effects on followers and on overall orgnizational performance.
Leaders of industrial and government organizations often articulate
visions for their organizations. Such visions need not be grandiose.
Follower respect, trust, and self-sacrifice are stimulated by
identification with the values inherent in the leader's vision and the
leader's demonstration of courage, determination and self-sacrifice in the
interest of the organization and the vision. According to this
perspective, value based leaders use follower value identifiction, and the
respect and trust they earn to motivate high performance and a sense of
mission in quest of the collective vision, and to introduce major
organizational change. For some individuals, latent values are brought to
consciousness as a result of the vision articulated by value based leaders.
Visions articulated by value based leaders need not be formulated
exclusively by a single leader. The collective vision may have been
initially conceived by leaders and members of the collective who preceded
the current leader. In this case, the leader is one who perpetuates the
vision by continuing to communicate it and institutionalizing it through
the establishment and maintenance of institutional means such as
strategies, policies, norms, rituals, ceremonies, and symbols.
The effects of the articulation of and emphasis on ideological values are rather profound. Organizational members become aware of ideological values that they share with the leader and as a collective. Members identify with the collective vision and with the organization--thus a high level of collective cohesion is developed. Collaborative interactions among organizational members is enhanced. Individuals experience a sense of collective efficacy and a heightened sense of self-esteem as a result of their cohesion and the leader's expressions of confidence in their ability to attain the vision. Further, motives relevant to the accomplishment of the vision are aroused and organizational members come to judge their self- worth in terms of their contribution to the collective and the attainment of the vision.
The result is strongly internalized member commitment, and intrinsic
motivation to contribute to the organization and to the collective vision.
A reinforcing process may also occur whereby organizational members
increase their respect for and confidence in the leader and each other
based on the resulting organizational success. As a result, their initial
confidence and motivation is further reinforced. Such effects are
consistent with the notion of romanticized leadership (Meindl, Ehrlich &
This is an “ideal type” theoretical scenario. Clearly all the aspects of this scenario will not always come to fruition in response to value based leadership. No such claim is made. Rather, it is argued that organizational members will be motivated on the basis of shared internalized values and identification with the leader and the collective, which are far more motivational than alternative bases of motivation.
It is possible that value based leaders may introduce flawed
strategies and that the result may be organizational decline or failure
rather than improvement and success. It is also possible that the leader
may stand for socially undesirable values such as ethnocentrism, racism,
persecution, dishonesty, or unfair or illegal competitive practices