Spring 2016 Issue
Recommended Reading: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action and The Right Kind of Crazy: A True Story of Teamwork, Leadership, and High-Stakes Innovation
Recommended Viewing: TedTalk - The surprising habits of original thinkers
From the Web: 6 Ways to Succeed As a Leader; You Can't Fix Culture - Just Focus On Your Business and the Rest Will Follow & Can Exercise Really Make You Grow New Brain Cells?
Leadership styles and organizational commitment: literature review
Transformational leadership sub-dimensions and their link to leaders' personality and performance
High Resolution Leadership: A synthesis of 15,000 assessments into how leaders shape the business
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Dear Clients & Partners, 

Welcome to the Spring 2016 edition of Executive Edge. 
The theme in this edition is an exploration of leadership competencies that drive organizational performance and employee commitment. Specifically, the first two articles review research on transformational leadership. The first examines its impact on organizational commitment, while the second explores the relationship between the "Big Five" personality factors and the four sub-dimensions of transformational leadership. This second study reveals that different combinations of personality traits are linked to certain leadership behaviors that in turn lead to success.
Lastly, our third abstract highlights some of the key findings from DDI's analysis of over 15,000 leaders from 300+ organizations in 18 countries. HR professionals and leaders will want to explore this research to benchmark leadership competencies that matter - both personally, within HR and within your organizations. 

I would also draw your attention to two articles on culture under "From the Web" below. 
We hope our selections are informative and thought-provoking, as well as providing you with ideas, tools and resources to facilitate your success as a leader as well as aid in the development of others. Do let me know if you'd like to know more about any of these studies. 
DCP Margarett

Margaret D'Onofrio
Principal / Executive Coach


Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

By Simon Sinek

Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, Sinek weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire. This book is for anyone who wants to inspire others or who wants to find someone to inspire them.


The Right Kind of Crazy: A True Story of Teamwork, Leadership, and High-Stakes Innovation

By Adam Steltzner with William Patrick

This is the true story of how an unlikely leader helped inspire a team of rocket scientists to land the rover Curiosity on Mars in 2012. It provides a story of teamwork, drama, and amazing feats of innovation at the Jet Propulsion Lab. It also offers insights to what makes an effective team, how to stay on task for the long haul, and strategies for solving incredibly complex problems. The Right Kind of Crazy is a book for anyone striving for excellence. 


TedTalk: The surprising habits of original thinkers 

How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies "originals": thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this talk, learn three unexpected habits of originals - including embracing failure.
From the 

In its eleventh annual Corporate Culture Survey, Sherpa Coaching asked training professionals and business leaders about their working environment. Through a series of nine questions, they touch on all the facets of
corporate culture that executive coaching is designed to create: communication, cooperation, openness
and empowerment. 

Web Link - Does not require a subscription to access select results

You Can't Fix Culture
Just Focus On Your Business and the Rest Will Follow

By Jay W. Lorsch and Emily McTague
Harvard Business Review, April 2016
Lorsch and McTague argue that cultural change is what you get after you put new processes or structures in place. The culture evolves as you tackle tough business challenges. Four CEO case studies illustrate. 
Web Link - Does not require a subscription

Can Exercise Really Make You Grow New Brain Cells?  

Fast Company 
Jane Porter

Fast Company interview with neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki on her personal story and subsequent research on exercise and brain cell growth. 
Web Link - Does not
require a subscription 


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DCP leadership   
Leadership styles and organizational commitment: literature review 
Rusliza Yahaya , Fawzy Ebrahim. Journal of Management Development 2016 35:2 , 190-216. 
This literature review examines the relationship between Bass's (1985) leadership dimensions (transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire) and several outcome variables (employee extra effort, employee satisfaction with leader, leadership effectiveness) and organizational commitment. 

Leadership Styles

Bass developed the Full Range Leadership Model (shown below) and an accompanying Multi Factor Leadership Questionnaire (also known as MLQ 5X short or the standard MLQ) that measures leadership types ranging from passive to active leaders and effective versus ineffective styles. This paper provides an overview of each of the three leadership dimensions in Bass's model and the research studies associated with each. You can learn more about transformational leadership and examples of transformational leaders here

Organizational Commitment

The authors draw attention to the connection between leadership styles and organizational commitment levels, pointing out that the MLQ has been used with the "Organizational Commitment Questionnaire" (OCG) to assess the impact on leadership styles on employee/organizational commitment. The second half of this literature review explores the many definitions of organizational commitment, suggesting a lack of agreed definition may account for the difficultly in understanding research results. Meyer and Allen identified three common themes from the various definitions:
  1. Affective Commitment - an emotional attachment to an organization.
  2. Normative Commitment - a feeling of obligation to an organization.
  3. Continuance Commitment - a lack of perceived alternative employment choices. 
The Antecedents of Organizational Commitment include congruency, interesting work, clarity of purpose, equity and fairness, feedback and recognition, empowerment, and autonomy. The paper also explores demographic factors that play a role in organizational commitment (positively and negatively). E.g. Age, gender, marital status, educational level, length of service and leadership style. They conclude with studies that confirm the link between organizational commitment and individual/organizational performance.

Transformational Leadership and Organizational Commitment

The authors review several studies that show a positive relationship between transformational leadership and organizational commitment, suggesting that transformational leaders are likely to gain commitment from subordinates, whereas transactional and laissez-faire leaders are not. 

Practical Implication

The study contributes to an understanding of what constitutes organizational commitment and the importance of transformational leadership behaviors in securing commitment that ultimately delivers superior organizational results. The two assessments (MLQ and OCG) provide tools for the practitioner to perform an organizational diagnostic. 

Web Link - Requires a paid subscription  

DCP leadership   
Transformational leadership sub-dimensions and their link to leaders' personality and performance

Anika Deinert, Astrid C. Homan, Diana Boer, Sven C. Voelpel, Daniela Gutermanna. The Leadership Quarterly 26 (2015) 1095-1120.

Introduced over thirty years ago, transformational leadership is defined as a "meaningful and creative exchange between leaders and their followers resulting in vision-driven change". It comprises four sub-dimensions: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. 

The authors note the strong empirical evidence for the effectiveness of transformational leadership and its effectiveness over any other leadership style (E.g. transactional and laissez-faire). 

Transformational leaders achieve (reforming) goals by getting followers to put aside self-interest to achieve team and organizational goals and optimal performance. Since most studies view transformational leadership as an overall measure of leadership effectiveness, the goal of this meta-analysis was to explore the relationship between the Big Five personality traits and the four sub-dimensions of tranformational leadership and to assess whether personality traits impacted this leadership style equally. (See the illustration below)


The 58 studies in this meta-analysis included a variety of leader performance measures. The Multi Factor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) was the most commonly used transformational leadership measure. Leader performance ratings were provided by followers, observers, or superiors. The samples comprised mainly male leaders and an equal number of male and female followers from business, university and army settings.

  • Research Question 1: Do the Big 5 personality traits exhibit differential patterns of relationships with the four transformational leadership sub-dimensions? 

    Four out of five traits correlated: Extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness correlated positively with transformational leadership while neuroticism did not. 
  • Research Question 2: Do the transformational leadership sub-dimensions exhibit differential patterns of relationships with
    leader performance?

    Three out of four dimensions correlated: inspirational 
    manifested the strongest connection to leader performance, followed by individualized consideration and intellectual stimulationIdealized influence was not significantly related to leader performance. 
  • Research Question 3: Do the indirect effects of the Big 5 personality traits on leader performance via transformational leadership differ in the four transformational leadership sub-dimensions?

    Yes, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness had significant indirect effects on leader performance via the overall measure of transformational
    leadership while there was no association between neuroticism and leader performance via transformational leadership.


The authors concluded that personality traits are differentially associated with transformational leadership in general and with its four sub-dimensions in particular. Substantial differences were uncovered, with inspirational motivation having the strongest impact on overall leader performance and idealized influence having the weakest impact among the four sub-dimensions.

Practical Implications
The research has implications for the selection and development of transformational leaders. This meta-analysis demonstrated that different personality trait combinations affect the transformational leadership sub-dimensions and that these (except idealized influence) have positive effects on leader performance. While no one personality trait is associated with effective leaders, different personality trait combinations translate to leadership behaviors associated with success. Practitioners can use this research to identify ideal personality traits when selecting transformational leaders, as well as areas for developmental focus.  
 Web Link - Requires a paid subscription  
DCP leadership   

High Resolution Leadership: A synthesis of 15,000 assessments into how leaders shape the business landscape
by Development Dimensions International, Inc. 2016. 

DDI's research examines assessment data from over 15,000 candidates for five leadership levels (frontline, mid-level, operational, strategic executive, and C-suite executive) from 300+ organizations; 20+ industries and 18 countries. Using evaluations from leadership simulations, personality and intelligence tests, DDI set out to define what competencies are driving performance and where the gaps are. The 48 page report includes 18 distinct analyses. A sampling of results are included in this abstract.

Select Results:
  • Important Senior Executive Competencies. Organizations with leaders scoring higher in business management and leadership of people showed significantly greater net profit and return on assets. 
  • Leadership Readiness Gaps. Executives today are better at focusing on immediate challenges such as improving quality, building relationships, and focusing on customers and efficiency. They are much less prepared to navigate the ambiguity arising from strategic challenges such as building or reinventing brands, markets, organizations, and cultures. 
  • Industries Poised to Succeed. 
    When analyzing results by industry, DDI assessed readiness to meet industry specific business challenges. They found wide variation in leadership readiness by industry. The report details the most and least prepared. 
  • Personality Difference by Leadership Level. DDI identified hard-to-develop attributes or "enablers," that contribute to leader success versus dysfunctional traits, or "derailers," that trip them up. These differ across three leader levels of strategic executive, operational, and mid-level and are shown in the graphic below.


  • Empathy Matters. Overwhelmingly, empathy tops the list as the most critical driver of overall performance. Only 40 percent of the frontline leaders were proficient or strong in empathy however. This ranked as the second lowest skill in all "Effectiveness in Interaction" skills. 

Two other noteworthy sections of this study explore gender differences and HR leadership competencies relative to its business partners.

Web Link - Does not require a paid subscription

In Closing ...
I hope you have enjoyed this issue of Executive Edge. Like us on Facebook to receive more leadership articles and ideas throughout the year.
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Margaret D'Onofrio

Principal & Executive Coach