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  The Value Based Leadership Theory

The Value Based Leadership Theory

Managers do things right

Leaders do the right things…

Value Based Leadership Theory

Moscow 1999

“Leaders are dealers in hope” Bonaparte Napoleon

“We will build a winning tradition” Vince Lombardi to the Green

Bay Packers

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
Based Leadership Theory. I will also present a preliminary test of several hypotheses derived from Value Based Theory. The tests of hypotheses are based on data descriptive of 25 relationships between chief executives and their immediate subordinates. As a concrete example, I am going to present the results of the real interviews, which took plase in Russia in 1999 among the CEOs. In the process of testing these hypotheses I replicate the study of charismatic leadership in the U. S. presidency conducted by House,
Spangler & Woycke (1991) using a sample of chief executive officers and different measurement methods. What I am trying to prove in this paper is the following: It was considered to think that managers are always the leadres in the organization. This opinion was proved to be wrong. According to the first research which appaered in press in the end of 70-s: manager is the position, and leader is the person who leads others to the desired result. According to the personal trends and characteristics, managers should be leaders, and they are, but not always. The question of leadership is a very interesting topic for me, personally.

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.
Leadership is a real fact, which has already been proved. You can be a born leader, but you also can create the leader in yourself. You can manage to influence, motivate and enable others. You can succeed, because there is nothing impossible for a human being. Especially, if he is intelligent on the one hand and really wishes to achieve something on the other.


During the period between the mid-seventies and the present time a number of theories have been introduced into the leadership literature.
These new theories and the empirical research findings constitute a paradigm shift in the study of leadership. The theories to which I refer are the 1976 Theory of Charismatic Leadership (House, 1977), the
Attributional Theory of Charisma (Conger & Kanungo, 1987), and the
Transformational Theory (Burns, 1978; Bass, 1985), and Visionary Theories of Leadership (Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Sashkin, 1988; Kousnes & Posner,

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
(Fleishman & Harris, 1962; Katz & Kahn, 1952; Likert, 1961; Feidler, 1967;
House, 1971, House, 1996). In contrast, the more recent theories stress the infusion of values into organizations and work through leader behaviors that are symbolic, inspirational and emotion arousing.

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.
Empirical evidence is discussed in more detail below. First, however, the valued based leadership theory will be described.


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
Churchill, Lee Iacocca, Martin Luther King, and John F. Kennedy. Examples of leaders who have communicated values to followers in a less emotionally expressive manner are Mother Teresa, Mahatma Ghandi, and Nelson Mandela.

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,
I hope to demonstrate the huge potential for value based leadership to be empowering and effective.

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,
1996). In these studies value based leadership accounted for between fifteen and twenty five percent of firm profitability over the three years following the time at which value based leadership was assessed. The design of these studies controlled for executive tenure, firm size, environmental turbulence, and prior firm profitability.

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.
Visions of outstanding leaders in the normal work world can embrace such ideological values as a challenging and rewarding work environment; professional development opportunities; freedom from highly controlling rules and supervision; a fair return to major constituencies; fairness, craftsmanship and integrity; high quality services or products; or respect for organizational members, clients or customers and for the environment in which the organization functions. Whether conceived solely by the leader, by prior members of the collective, or jointly with followers, the articulation of a collective ideological vision by leaders theoretically results in self-sacrifice and effort, above and beyond the call of duty, by organizational members and exceptional synergy among members of the collective.

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.
Also, some individuals change their values to be consistent with those of the leader.

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.
Alternatively, organizational visions can be formulated by leaders in conjunction with organizational members.

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.
Members are more inclined to support changes in technology, structure and strategies introduced by top management, which may result in an organizational culture characterized by values oriented toward teamwork and meeting customers', clients', constituents' and competitive needs. There ensues a marked reduction in intra-organizational conflict and a high degree of team effort and effectiveness. As noted above, members expend effort above and beyond the call of duty, and sacrifice their self-interest in the interest of the organization. As a result, individual motivation, organizational culture, strategy and structure are likely to become aligned with 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 &
Dukerich, 1985). The resulting increased confidence in the leader in turn gives the leader more influence and thus contributes to the leader's ability to further influence organizational performance.

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
(Lindholm 1990). Regardless of the strategy or values expressed by the leader, it is argued that a relationship based on value identification between leader and organizational members will result in increased member commitment and motivation, as well as increased organizational cohesion.

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