LEADERSHIP IN A HIGH-PERFORMING ORGANIZATION
COMPARING LEADERSHIP MODELS
Paul Hans Abair
B.A.S., United States Air Force Academy, 1994
Troy State University, 2001
A dissertation submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation
Abair. Paul Hans (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
The role and development of leaders in a high-performing aircraft-maintenance
Thesis directed by Professor Rodney Muth
Leaders ought to appreciate their ability to influence individual and
organizational performance. The power to influence others towards higher
achievement and higher performance intrinsically motivates many
professionals to establish new policies, innovate new technologies,
manage new programs, and supervise, mentor, and educate others. This
study develops a leadership model from data supplied by members of a
high-performing aircraft-maintenance organization and compares the
model to the Full Range Leadership Model and to the Air Force
Leadership Development Model. Paul completed interviews and surveys
of junior, mid-grade, and senior level members of the 389th Aircraft
Maintenance Unit over a three-week period to determine how they
actualized their personal performance in relation to leadership. The study
revealed the exemplary characteristics of effective leaders in a current-
day, high-performing, aircraft-maintenance organization and concluded
that transformational leadership improves morale and supports a higher
level of communication necessary for the organization to adapt to a
rapidly changing environment. Effective leaders in this organization are
caring, knowledgeable communicators who listen intently and support the
ideas of organizational members while maintaining organizationally
accepted standards. Model comparison to the Air Force model suggest the
Air Force may unleash a new wave of human resources by training
strategic leadership skills earlier in every members career so they may
knowledgeably articulate and participate in transformational leadership at
every level within the organization.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis,
recommend its publication.
This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
Paul Hans Abair
has been approved
2008 by Paul Hans Abair
All rights reserved.
I dedicate this thesis to my wife, Brandi, and sons, Jesse, Austin, and Devon.
Without their personal sacrifices, support, and love, these pages would still be
empty. I further dedicate this work to honor my father, Michael Abair. His
consistent walk through life and patriotic service has always been an inspiration. I
further dedicate this work to my mother, Rena Abair. Her compassion and joy for
life continually inspires me to seek my own path, be self-reliant, and think
independently. Finally, Id like to dedicate this work to my grandfather, Jean-
Paul, for teaching me how to be a good farmer. Thank you all for believing in me.
I thank my advisor, Dr. Rodney Muth, for his patience, guidance, and
encouragement; Dr. Susan Aldridge for inspiring me to continue my education;
and Dr. Dean Wilson for providing this incredibly unique opportunity, for having
faith and patience in my abilities, and for being a good friend and boss at the
United States Air Force Academy. 1 also thank Dr. Connie Fulmer for her
guidance in methodology, Dr. Nancy Leech for her encouragement to work in
subject matter that I am truly passionate about, and the Graduate School for their
support, patience, and individual considerations. Finally, Id like to acknowledge
my colleagues for their encouragement, the men and women of the 389th Aircraft
Maintenance Unit for their participation, and the United States Air Force
Academy and the Air Force Institute of Technology for their facilitation of this
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. PERFORMANCE-BASED LEADERSHIP MODELING...................1
2. LITERATURE REVIEW.......................................16
Performance and stress.........................19
USAF aircraft maintenance performance....26
T ransformat ion.....................................30
Leadership and power....................................33
Traditional leadership models.....................37
Air Force leadership..............................44
3. LEADERSHIP CASE STUDY.......................................49
4. ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS ......................................68
Performance measure domains...........................88
Morale and motivation..........................98
Summary of performance factors........................107
Factors of leadership.................................108
Leader attributes and behaviors.......................Ill
Leadership model comparison...........................126
5. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS.............................136
Summary and interpretation............................142
Implications for future research......................146
A. F-16 block 50 performance indicators.....................148
B. Full Range Leadership Model, MLQ5X questionnaire.........149
C. AF leadership factors....................................151
D. Interview questions......................................156
E. Juxtaposition of leadership models.......................157
F. AF doctrine statements...................................170
LIST OF FIGURES
1.1 Linking Air Force transformation, leadership, and performance..........3
1.2 Research Venn diagram...................................................4
2.1 AF organizational climate survey factors...............................33
2.2 Performance-based leadership model.....................................36
2.3 Full Range Leadership in relation to proposed performance effects......41
2.4 Air Force Leadership Development pyramid...............................45
4.1 Group 1 cognitive map..................................................73
4.2 Group 2 cognitive map..................................................75
4.3 Leadership, motivation, performance, morale model......................76
4.4 Group 3 cognitive map..................................................78
4.5 Groups 4-5 cognitive map...............................................79
4.6 Group 6 cognitive map..................................................81
4.7 Group 7 cognitive map..................................................82
4.8 Group 8 cognitive map..................................................84
4.9 Group 9 and 10 cognitive map...........................................87
4.10 Performance measures model............................................95
4.11 Performance factors..................................................109
4.12 Performance factor inter-relationships...............................109
4.13 Leadership attributes and behavior domains.........................Ill
4.14 FRLM MLQ5x survey mean scores....................................129
4.15 Holistic Air Force leadership modeling...........................131
5.1 Systems change theory model........................................138
5.2 Performance-Based leadership development model....................139
LIST OF TABLES
3.1 Group definitions.....................................................55
3.2 Subject attributes....................................................58
3.3 Emergent performance measures by group..............................65
4.1 Performance measures (populated).....................................89
4.2 Performance factors...................................................97
4.3 Leadership attributes................................................111
4.4 Leadership behaviors.................................................126
4.5 Mean scores MLQ5x....................................................129
PERFORMANCE-BASED LEADERSHIP MODELING
Leadership is a complex phenomenon that has evolved over time through
various models and studies. We know that something exists in relationships
among people that can inspire them to work together with undaunted and
unprecedented satisfaction, efficiency, and effectiveness. Intuitively, most
people can articulate examples of influential leaders, citing short-term and
longitudinal performance effects. Nonetheless, it is difficult to find research
studies that relate leadership to higher levels of sustained organizational
performance, especially as we enter the 21st century.
In contrast to many leadership theories, Jim Collins (2001) and his team
revealed that the most effective leader to emerge from companies that sustained
high-performance were "level-5 leaders" defined as "someone who builds
enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and
professional will." These findings appeared to contradict many past leadership
models that involved charisma, dominant traits, or specific situational criteria.
Generals Paparone (2004) and Ulmer (2001) further make a case that the United
States military's hierarchical structure and stratified leadership models may be
insufficient to properly deal with the increasing rates of change occurring in the
world that effect how organizations perform in the 21st century.
Beyond these isolated views, I have found that traditional leadership
models do not consistently relate leadership variables with organizational
performance. Rather, they identify traits or behaviors that influence others to
follow leaders independent of organizational success. Some leadership theories
discuss the context for leadership as subordinate commitment and competence
(Blanchard & Zigarmi, 1985), task structure and positional power (Fiedler,
1964), or subordinate and task characteristics such as inclusion, structure,
control, ability, task design, authority systems, and work group dynamics (House
& Mitchell, 1974). These theories describe continua of leamable leadership
behaviors that relate to continua of identifiable contextual factors that may or
may not affect overall organizational performance.
Regardless of the model, however, the sheer quantity of leadership
literature is evidence that most people believe leaders help transform processes
and individuals in their organizations so that both may achieve higher
performance. Additionally, most organizations, including the Air Force, as
described in Figure 1.1, hope leaders will leverage new technologies so their
organizations will maintain a competitive advantage in the future.
Figure 1.1. In order to prepare our Airmen to operate efficiently and effectively in
expeditionary theaters, we must transform our thinking, culture, and business processes, to
aggressively move into the information age. James G. Roche, Secretary of the Air Force.
This study analyzes interview data collected from members of various
ranks and positions in a high-performing Air Force, aircraft-maintenance
organization. The leadership model that emerges from the study is compared to
the Full Range Leadership Model and to the Air Force Leadership Development
Model founded in Air Force doctrine and used to train Air Force officers.
Patterns and irregularities inform recommendations to be incorporated into Air
Force doctrine and advance a performance-based leadership agenda that may
help most any organization that desires to develop leaders for the 21st century.
Figure 1.2 presents a Venn diagram of transformation, leadership, and
organizational performance that are the foundations for this study. Technological
and operating changes for many organizations have the effects of transforming
processes and creating new products and services (Cyert & Mowery, 1987). This
study seeks a systems approach to understanding how leadership in a
transformational environment affects sustained organizational performance.
Systems approach to
understanding how leadership
in a transformational
environment affects sustained
Figure 1.2. Research Venn diagram
Most leadership models appear to misinterpret or neglect the role of
organizational context (Paparone, 2004; Senge, 1990; Ulmer, 2001). Further,
leadership theories have yet to translate into meaningful, sustainable, or
teachable practices that consistently improve individual and organizational
performance over time (Northouse, 2004). This conundrum suggests that
something is amiss. Perhaps our intuition, conceptualization, definitions, and
measures of performance and leadership are inconsistent with current
organizational needs? Perhaps we lack an understanding of universal leadership-
development strategies and methodologies that consistently unleash the full
potential of our human communities? Perhaps we have done the best we can to
relate leadership to performance in our ever-changing organizations realizing the
limitations of the human element? This study seeks to contribute to the
resolution of these issues by investigating measures and factors of performance
and leadership from various levels in a 21st Century, United States Air Force,
aircraft-maintenance organization using qualitative interviews and a survey
developed from the Full Range Leadership Model (Avolio & Bass, 2004), then
comparing these results to Air Force Doctrine Document 1 -1 (2004). Figure 1.1
displays the institutional purpose for researching these topics in this method.
Leaders, especially from the United States military, are calling to "transform our
thinking, culture, and business processes, to aggressively move into the
information age' (Roche, 2006).
Most leadership studies are void of performance relationships. Higher or
lower performance is probably assumed, however, it is my thought that
leadership factors are directly related to the performance measures and
objectives of the organization. Success, achievement, and performance are very
contextual variables, and may be responsible for the multitude of leadership
models that have emerged in the past century. This study addresses the
performance measures and factors head-on because it is founded in systems
The primary premise of systems thinking is the belief that all things are
comprised of increasingly complex systems of systems (Flood, 2001). Systems
theory suggests that our world regularly interacts and often is interdependent
with uncontrollable and undiscovered systems (Boulding, 1985). Individuals,
organizations, and communities all describe interdependent social systems that
share human activity (Churchman, 1979). Changing one factor, in one system,
may have enormous consequences for other interactive systems in second, third,
or even higher-ordered effects.
Those who subscribe to holism theorize that we cannot begin to
understand the phenomenon without first understanding context, a web of
interacting and interdependent systems that incorporate psychology, sociology,
situational factors, and the associated environments (Smuts. 1973).
Understanding context is therefore meaningful in creating persuasive evidence,
but it is often difficult to measure or include in studies that ask strict questions
and restrict the emergence of contextual variables (Montuori, 2001). Holistic
medical practitioners, for example, take into account "the entire persongenes,
lifestyle, behavior, and other factors are evaluated and maintained, rather than
sequential attention to specific health-care needs" ( p. 64). Applied to
organizational theory, holism suggests that leadership and social systems can
affect organizational performance systems but should be tailored to the specific
goals and aspirations of each organization.
Systems have similar properties (Clarke, 2003), and emergence and
interrelatedness are two important characteristics (Flood, 2001). Emergence is
the term used to explain the synergistic phenomenon of systems: They are self-
organizing, goal directed, responsive to information, unpredictable, patterned,
uncontrollable, cyclic, achieving, and require flexibility (Clarke, 2003). We can
compare systems by understanding their patterns and similarities (Graham.
1995), and we can compare the psychology and behavior of an individual, for
example, w ith the behavior of an organization. It is this property of systems that
bridges the various disciplines of biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology,
and economics and empowers a holistic approach to understanding leadership
and organizational performance in 21st'century organizations.
Various studies and authors have various definitions of performance and
leadership. Stating that both are contextual doesn't preclude them from being
somehow related. In this study, I not only select a high-performing organization,
but then ask members to further define meaningful performance measures and
factors. In this study, I have controlled for organizational performance by
selecting a high-performing aircraft-maintenance unit as identified by
performance metrics gathered at Air Combat Command.
The Air Force operates more than 6000 aircraft and
employs approximately 1.6 million airmen . Major
commands are organized on a functional basis in the United
States and a geographic basis overseas. They accomplish
designated phases of Air Force worldwide activities. Also, they
organize, administer, equip, and train their subordinate elements
for the accomplishment of assigned missions. Major commands
generally are assigned specific responsibilities based on
functions. In descending order of command, elements of major
commands include numbered air forces, wings, groups,
squadrons, and flights. The basic unit for generating and
employing combat capability is the wing, which has always
been the Air Forces prime war-fighting instrument. Operations,
maintenance, and support groups make up the functional
cornerstones of the w ing. Each group has numerous squadrons
divided by function, size, or aircraft type. (Air Force Factsheet
Many factors account for higher-performing aircraft-maintenance units.
Some variables may include newer aircraft that break less often, less complex
avionics packages, newer support equipment, or more well-trained mechanics.
How'ever, high-performing maintenance organizations generally outperform
similar organizations of similar aircraft types and missions for sustained periods
of time (Air Force Instruction 21-101, 2005).
Maintenance-management metrics provide reliable and accurate
information to Air Force managers. Maintenance managers are concerned with
meeting mission requirements, improving equipment performance, identifying
support problems, and tracking capability trends. Maintenance-management
metrics are compared to goals and standards in order to gauge an organizations
effectiveness and efficiency and to motivate units to improve organizational
performance (AFI 21-101).
The overarching objective of maintenance management metrics is to
ensure that aerospace equipment is maintained in safe, serviceable, and ready
condition to meet mission needs. Commanders and maintenance managers are
trained to evaluate maintenance metrics and to rely upon them as a source of
unbiased information. Maintenance managers are trained not to "chase numbers"
to look good but rather to utilize the information of metrics to improve
maintenance processes and meet standards required for combat readiness.
Chasing numbers might lower morale and job satisfaction, work ethic, and
commitment (Air Force Instruction 21-101, 2005). Overall, these metrics are a
meaningful way to select a high-performing maintenance organization in which
to conduct the study. Aircraft maintenance performance metrics provide
organizational members a meaningful way to assess their effectiveness and
Leadership, similarly, has many moving variables and definitions. For
example, leadership is an influence process, which operates best when it does
not rely on coercion (Muth, 1984). Alternatively, "leadership is an influence
relationship among leaders and their collaborators who intend real changes that
reflect their mutual purposes" (Faris & Outcalt, 2000, p. 10). Another definition
indicates that, 'leadership is an influence process whereby one gains the trust
and respect of subordinates and moves them toward goals without reliance upon
positional authority" (Ulmer. 2000, p. 14). Another perspective states.
"Leadership is more accurately a relationship, a process, about change,
something that can be learned, inclusive, collaborative, made up of multiple
relationships, and oriented toward influencing change" (Paparone. 2004. p. 9).
Students of leadership have literally thousands of articles from which to choose
various definitions and conceptions of leadership, but the ones that resonate
most with me involve change, influence, and performance improvement.
In recent leadership studies, a leader's influence on organizational
performance has been found to be small. For example, various leadership
strategies have produced little variance in actual organizational effectiveness
(Paparone, 2004). Other studies conclude that the question is not whether
leadership matters, but whether we can define the context in which leadership
takes place (Boal & Hooijberg, 2001). Contradictory views about the role and
effects of leadership also engage the research community, cloud the practice of
leadership, and muddy its reported consequences (Northouse, 2004). Finding
common-ground between various models and definitions as they relate to
organizational performance may help organizations refine their leadership
development investments. Leadership as a discipline is evolving better
understandings and has many dedicated methodologists.
The Full Range Leadership Model (FRLM), for example, frames
leadership along a continuum of 9 behavioral factors, ranging from laissez-faire
to transactional to transformational behaviors (Bass & Avolio, 1991). In this
model, a person can avoid specifying agreements, expectations, goals or
standards" (laissez-faire), can display constructive and corrective behaviors by
defining expectations and performance measures (transactional), or inspire and
intellectually stimulate others to heightened levels of performance
(transformational) (Bass & Avolio, 2004, p. 97). FRLM generalizes that most
people will perform best for leaders who exhibit leadership behaviors and
attributes that are transformational.
Another model of leadership, The Air Force Leadership Development
Model (AFLDM) used to train cadets at the United States Air Force Academy,
stratifies leadership across a continuum of 24 behavioral factors ranging from
personal to team to institutional systems (Air Force Doctrine Document 1-1,
2004). The model assumes interaction between a leader, follower, and situation
during which a combination of the 24 factors may be displayed. The model
further suggests that lower-level organizational members use more personal
leadership skills and fewer institutional skills. As members rise in the
organization, they increase their skills in institutional leadership. Measures of
these factors have yet to be developed or validated, making a quantitative
comparison between AFLDM and FRLM impossible. Nevertheless, this study
examines these two models in the context of performance using highly
In this study I analyze how members of a high-performing Air Force
maintenance organization perceive organizational performance measures and
performance factors, how leaders affect performance, and how members lead to
influence others. I seek to determine how members describe leaders and qualify
leaders' affects on organizational performance. I then triangulate emergent
attitudes and beliefs about leaders and leadership with a survey from the Full
Range Leadership Model (FRLM) and then juxtapose emergent themes with the
Air Force Leadership Development Model (AFLDM) to inform Air Force
The results of the study may improve our understanding of the
relationship between leadership and performance and provide ideas for
improving current leadership models to serve organizations better. Specific
research questions include. Flow do members of a high-performing aircraft-
maintenance unit describe organizational performance? How do members of a
high-performing aircraft-maintenance unit describe leadership? How do
members of a high-performing aircraft-maintenance unit relate leadership to
organizational performance? How do these emergent leadership factors compare
to those of the FRLM and the AFLDM? How do any emergent themes inform
current leadership modeling and definitions? How might the model comparisons
inform AFLDM in developing leaders with the right skills to best affect
organizational performance in this unit?
A case study is a preferred method of studying leadership, because a
case study is an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon
within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon
and context are not clearly evident'' (Yin. 1994. p. 13). Leadership is highly
contextual, exists only through interaction, and is symbolic, lending itself well to
case-study analysis (Bass, 1998; Mazlish, 1984). Further, single-case studies
often are used to affirm or disconfirm a theory's propositions (Yin, 1994). In this
case, the emergent leadership theory, the FRLM, and the AFLDM are
juxtaposed to determine whether similarities and patterns discovered in this case
study lead to the integrity of the models.
The 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, Mountain Home, Idaho, w as
selected as a high-performing maintenance organization after comparing
generally accepted production-performance indicators for all aircraft-
maintenance units in the Air Force over the previous 24-month period (see
Appendix A). Subjects within the unit were interview ed and asked to rate the
most influential leader in the unit, using the Multiple Leadership Questionnaire
5X (MLQ5X) of the FRLM as purchased by www.mindgarden.com (see
Appendix B). A leadership model emerged from these data that could then be
compared to factors of the FRLM and AFLDM. Recommendations for this
Aircraft Maintenance Unit, for Air Force doctrine, and for future leadership
research and development emerged from these analyses.
Case studies are limited in how evidence can be generalized to larger
populations. However, case studies can provide examples from which readers
might recognize some part of the design as similar to their own circumstances
and develop their own generalizations (Yin, 1994). To help readers relate to the
findings, the FRLM and MLQ5X are used comparatively. That is, the MLQ5x
has been used to analyze leadership variables in more than 300 research studies
(Bass & Avolio, 2004) and is a formidable tool for comparing the emergent
model to the Air Force model.
Another challenge to the case study was my status as an Air Force
officer. I made every attempt to be friendly, approachable, and credible, and to
form an environment of non-retribution.
This single-case study seeks to determine a model of leadership and
performance perceived by diverse members of the high-performing 389th
Aircraft Maintenance Unit. This emergent model, when compared to FRLM and
AFLDM, seeks to inform both the literature and Air Force doctrine of patterns or
irregularities within and across models in relation to organizational performance
and Air Force aircraft-maintenance. This study also intends to narrow the gap in
the literature between leadership and performance by identifying leadership and
performance factors that can be measured and correlated in future studies. My
hope is that every reader will glean a better understanding that what they say and
do in their organization directly and indirectly affects organizational
A LITERATURE REVIEW OF ORGANIZATIONS.
LEADERSHIP, AND PERFORMANCE
Systems Change Theory, as studied under Dr. Mark Clarke, gave me the
idea to ground my study in a literature review that helped me understand why
humans might join an organization, and how organizations might measure
performance. Why do humans organize? What is the mutual purpose of humans
and organizations? What drives the tools humans use to accomplish work and to
communicate? How does transformation and technology fit into human
psychology and organizational behavior? I merely buffed the surface of these
questions, but learned that humans join organizations to synergize their
activities, mitigate stress, and mitigate the effects of change (Bomstein. 2002;
Endler, 2002; Frankenhaueser, 2002; Vila, 2002). By joining an organization,
humans are willing to subordinate themselves to rules and cultural norms in
order to gain a greater opportunity and access to resources and security. It is my
belief and understanding that self-actualization and leadership arise within and
upon these personal instincts and contractual objectives.
Leadership and organizational performance are complex processes.
Leadership involves psychology (Endler, 2002; Mazlish, 1984; Stogdill, 1948),
human behavior (Forgas, 2002; Regan, 2000), and social systems (Bums, 2003;
Hesselbein, 1996; Kane, 2000). Leadership is about changing how people think
(Kegan, 2000), behave (Smeets, 2001), integrate (Joia. 2001), and produce
(Ahmed, 1995; Ulmer, 2000).
Organizational performance, on the other hand, involves economies of
scale (Weber, 1947; 1978), efficiencies (Shafritz, 2001), effectiveness (Barnard,
2001; Selznick, 2001), creativity (Andersen, 2000; Scardamalia, 2003), and
leaders of high-performing organizations envision sustained, longitudinal
performance of their organizations (Duck, 1998; Kvale, 2002; Piaget, 1978).
Better understanding the relationship between leadership and organizational
performance may provide insights into how best to develop effective leaders
within an organization to achieve higher performance. Contemporary leadership
models discuss motivation, how people feel about themselves and their tasks,
and morale, how the group feels its organization.
Like societies and organizations, individuals are systems (Boulding,
1985). What people do and say generally are motivated by the interactions of
various systems and patterns that have shaped their being, how they feel, and
what they think (Flood, 2001; Klir, 1991). Additionally, humans have a need,
"deeply rooted in their nervous system, to understand, predict, and control their
surroundings for gratification and self-preservation (Frankenhaueser, 2002).
However, none of us can control the small and infinite changing events that are
forever beyond our comprehension (Bums. 2003; Caprara, 2002). Caprara
claims that personality is a persons best attempt to "make things happen by
one's own action" (p. 205). On a basic level, many individuals join
organizations nearly instinctively as extensions of their personalities and
circumstances as they attempt to maximize safety, control, gratification, and
Psychologists suggest that effective leaders should manage follower
perceptions of stress, acceptance, and opportunity (Endler, 2002;
Frankenhaueser, 2002). The latest brain research shows that the neural networks
that control emotions and stress were laid down early in human evolution.
(Lang, Davis, & Ohman, 2002; Vila, 2002). Coping neural networks of the
amygdala and the nucleus of stria terminalis respond reflexively to
unconditioned internal and external stimuli (Rothbart & Derrberry, 2002).
Defensive systems driven by unpleasant emotions, like stress, have been
associated with immediate withdrawal, pain aversion, and defensive aggression
(Vila, 2002). Escape and avoidance are the natural human responses to
threatening stimuli (Lang et ah, 2002). Interestingly enough, many effective
historical leaders exemplify courage, the ability to overcome natural human
responses during stressful situations in order to achieve group success
(Northouse, 2004). Understanding the psychology of stress may be foundational
to understanding leadership and performance.
Performance and Stress
Today's increasing freedom to establish rules, develop boundaries and
limits, and make choices has greatly increased the amount of stress that humans
experience (Bomstein, 2002; Vila, 2002). Seemingly in contrast, Endler (2002)
suggests that being in control, or believing one is in control (having authority),
reduces stress. Many studies suggest that increased levels of stress negatively
affect task performance (Motowidlo, Packard, & Manning, 1986).
Increased freedom to make choices increases stress while being in
control of one's future reduces stress (Vila. 2002). How humans cope with stress
and conflict greatly affects cohesion and group performance (Pillai, 2001). In
summary, the types and amounts of stress perceived by organizational members
appears to have affects along a continuum from motivational to defensive
aggresive. Stress is a key systems factor that contributes to our understanding of
organizational membership, leadership, and performance.
Toulmin (2001) argues that human need for certainty and predictability
in one's environment leads people to embrace the perceived stability and self-
preservation of organizations. He presents the church, state, and academy as
successful because of their perceived stabilizing affects upon communities.
Organizations such as these establish rules and structures that make events
seemingly more predictable. Additionally, organizations combine efforts of
individuals to create synergy. Understanding organizational theory, then, is
critical to understanding relationships between leadership and organizational
performance (Mintzberg, 1989).
Ours has become, for better and for worse, a soeiety of
organizations. We are bom in organizations and are educated in
organizations so that we can later work in organizations. At the
same time, organizations supply us and entertain us. They govern
us and harass us [sometimes concurrently]. Finally, we are buried
by organizations. Yet aside from a small group of scholars called
"organization theorists" who study them, and those managers
inclined to look deeply into the subject of their management, few
people really understand these strange collective beasts that so
influence our daily lives. (Mintzberg, 1989. p. 1)
Organizations are defined as groups of individuals working together to
achieve common objectives (Greenburg & Baron, 2000). Adam Smith (1776)
recognized synergistic affects of the division of labor when he declared "10 men
together can make 4800 times more than any one alone" (p. 23). Frederick
Taylor (Robinson & Pearce, 2000) made the same claim in the early twentieth
century when he developed industrial assembly lines. A quick study of the
development of human societies confirms that humans constantly are re-
organizing their endeavors to maximize the return on their resources. It seems
instinctive for humans to align themselves with synergistic approaches (Caprara,
Modern organizations strongly reject Max Weber's (1947) writings on
bureaucracies. He considered bureaucracy to be the best kind of organization.
Webers analysis showed that bureaucracies favor (a) written guidelines used to
control employee behavior, (b) impersonal work relationships and objective
standards to prevent favoritism, (c) division of labor to achieve synergy through
specialization, (d) hierarchical structures to control communication and decision
making, (e) lifelong career paths to stabilize organizational culture, and (f)
organizations completely committed to achieving economic ends.
Contrary to Weber, Mary Parker Follett (1951) suggested greater
organizational effectiveness could be achieved through more democratic power
structures where employees were empowered to learn, gain experience, and
make responsible decisions. Supportivelv, machine bureaucratic organizations
run by professional management, by emphasizing calculation, drive out
commitment, and so reduce human systems to impersonal shells" (Mintzberg,
1983, p. 3), and the Hawthorn studies provided evidence that organizations are
social systems, not just economic systems: Human needs, attitudes, motives, and
relationships in the work place are extremely important to sustain high levels of
individual and organizational performance (Baron, Rea. & Daniels, 1992). Thus,
leaders in 21st century organizations may need to adopt a very broad range of
tools to adapt to the rising spectrum of organizational contexts, and a team
approach may more readily adapt to a rapidly changing operating environment
than larger, hierarchical, and bureaucratic organizations.
High-performance teams tend to have members who show exceptionally
high-levels of mutual care, trust, and respect for each other (Katzenbach. 1998).
High-performance teams (a) are small in size, (b) are highly selective, (c)
employ intense training, (d) have clear objectives, (e) link individual reward
with team performance, (f) use appropriate performance measures, (g) promote
trust, (h) encourage shared leadership, (i) inspire team-spirit and support, (j)
incorporate effective communication, (k) emphasize a sense of urgency, (1)
establish clear rules of behavior, (m) share information openly, and (n)
acknowledge and reward vital team contributions (Dumain, 1994). These
characteristics suggest that leaders of high-performing organizations need to be
knowledgeable, caring, and transformational.
Organizations typically measure success using market share, sales
volume, product quality, product development cycles, productivity, ability to
improve, annual earnings, profitability, return on investment, improvement in
employee skills, and employee flexibility (Ahmed, Montagno, & Firenze, 1995;
Thompson & Strickland, 1995). Other organizational studies have used return on
assets, revenue per admission, income per admission, margin, and utilization to
determine organizational performance (Ashmos, Duchon, & McDaniel, 2000).
Increases in revenue and earnings per share (EPS) are still widely
reported as primary metrics of determining value creation, but
when business decisions are based on those metrics, terrible
activities can result. These activities can range from value-
destroying mergers and acquisitions, growth at the expense of
return on investment, and harvesting of assets which may
increase accounting profits but actually destroy value. (Frigo,
The U.S. federal government is pursuing even higher-performing
organizations in the 21st century (Walker, 2004). To achieve this, governmental
organizations may be required to rethink how they do business, incorporate
emerging technologies, and employ people who are willing to relearn business
processes. Government must become more results focused, collaborative, and
more customer-oriented (Walker). As well, high-performing organizations must
have a clear, well-articulated, and compelling mission, strategically use
partnerships, be customer oriented, and develop and maintain strong,
charismatic, visionary people (W'alker). Performance literature often links
organizational outcomes to leadership principles. The relationship is seemingly
inseparable. And yet, the struggle to quantify the link between leadership and
performance remains mostly rhetorical.
Measuring leadership and organizational performance is challenging and
contextually dependent upon the definitions employed. Best-practice
organizations assess the affects of their leadership programs (Day & Halpin,
2001). For example, the top 100 Fortune 500 companies measured their
leadership development programs by assessing skill improvements; changes in
behavior reported by superv isors, peers, and subordinates: retention increases;
and organizational success (Fulmer & Wagner, 1999). Other measures have
included reduced costs, improved quality, increased productivity, and return for
investing in leadership development programs (Davis, Lucas, & Marcotte,
Organizational performance measures should combine short-term and
longitudinal measures as well as both objective and subjective analyses
whenever possible (Haber & Reichel, 2005). Analysis and measurement provide
visibility and a sense of urgency to transform processes (Pearce & Robinson,
2000). Total quality management, just-in-time production, manufacturing cells,
flexible manufacturing systems, concurrent engineering, computer networking,
benchmarking, Six Sigma, and strategic analysis have been the most popular
tools used to generate transformation (Ahmed et al., 1995; Pearce & Robinson,
Organizations using any of the above strategies outperform organizations
that do not use any (Ahmed et al, 1995). Additional strategies appear to
contribute to even higher performance, albeit, at a diminishing return. Each
strategy requires analysis, generates manageable conflict, and creates a learning
environment necessary to stimulate innovation.
Shocking the current order with meaningful data is an effective catalyst
to drive transformation (Ashmos et al.. 2000). "Dire conditions create dire
wants' (Burns. 2003. p. 12). Conflict is an important antecedent to
organizational performance (Amason, 1996). Increased cohesion through more
effective management of conflict improves organizational performance (Kegan
& Lahey, 2001b). Leaders of conflict need to be knowledgeable, courageous,
and tenacious. These characteristics may emerge in this case study.
Contrary to driving change through conflict, in some organizations
members have been observed achieving tasks way above and beyond those
required and quite outside any formal reward structure. Such behavior has been
identified as Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB) (Greenberg & Baron,
2000). Research studies conclude that the number of incidence of OCB directly
correlates with organizational performance (Allen & Rush, 1998). However, it
has yet to be determined how organizations can generate conditions of OCB.
Additionally, group performance is higher in organizations that have
better problem solvers (Greenberg & Baron, 2000). Groups have not proven to
be more effective than individuals when accomplishing tasks requiring creativity
(Bouchard, Barsaloux. & Drauden, 1974). So while bureaucracy and
specialization appear to maximize the economies of scale, they also appear to
diminish creative problem solving and catalyzing conflict required for
transformation. These factors may emerge in this case study as components of
USAF Aircraft Maintenance Performance
Detailed performance metrics have been developed over the years to help
identify core process failures in logistics, operations, and maintenance (AFI 21-
101,2004). All aircraft-maintenance units in the Air Force track these data at the
unit, squadron, group, wing, major command, and headquarters levels. Managers
are advised not to chase numbers, but to analyze trends in order to adjust
policies, procedures, and acquisitions to maximize utilization and ensure combat
mission readiness. High-performing organizations generally have metrics well
The abort rate is a leading indicator of both aircraft reliability and quality
of maintenance performed. High-performing maintenance organizations achieve
a lower abort rate for maintenance than that of other organizations with similar
aircraft. Maintenance is abbreviated (Mx) in the following formulas.
Total AR for Mx (%) = Air Ground Aborts for Mx \ 100
Total Sorties Flown + Ground Aborts
Break rate (BR) is the percentage of aircraft that land in code-3" status.
Code-3 means that the aircraft was unable to complete at least one of its primary
missions. High-performing organizations will achieve a lower break rate as
compared to other units with similar aircraft.
BR (%) = Number of Sorties that land code 3 x 100
Total Sorties Flown
Cannibalization rate (CR) is a leading indicator that reflects the number
of times a serviceable part is removed from an aircraft or engine to replace a
non-serviceable part on another aircraft or engine or to fill a deployable re-
supply kit. High-performing maintenance units will maintain a lower CR than
units of similar aircraft and supply priority.
CR (%) = Number of Aircraft and Engine CANNs x 100
Total Sorties Flown
Deferred Discrepancy Rate (DDR) represents the average number of
items or inspections that require maintenance actions across all aircraft
possessed by the squadron. High-performing organizations will sustain a lower
AWM DDR (%) = Total AWM Discrepancies x 100
Average Aircraft Possessed
The fix rate (FR) is a leading indicator of how well the repair process is
functioning. It measures the speed of repair and equipment maintainability. FR
is a function of the number of "code-3" breaks fixed within 8 hours of landing.
High-performing maintenance units maintain a high 8-hour fix rate.
FR (%) = "Code-3" breaks Fixed within 8 hours of landing x 100
Total "Code-3 Breaks
Flying schedule effectiveness rate (FSE) indicates how well a unit
planned and executed the weekly flying schedule. High-performing maintenance
units will ensure a high FSE.
FSF. (%) = Adjusted Sorties Scheduled Chargeable Deviations x 100
Adjusted Sorties Sceduled
Maintenance schedule effectiveness (MSE) indicates how well a unit
planned and completed inspections and periodic maintenance on-time. High-
performing maintenance units have a high MSE.
MSE (%) = ff Scheduled Mx Actions Completed on Time x 100
Total # of Mx Actions Scheduled
Mission Capable (MC) Rate represents a broad spectrum of processes
and metrics. MC rate is a percentage of hours a unit's possessed aircraft are
mission capable. High-performing organizations will have higher MC rates.
MC (%) = Mission Capable Hours x 100
Total # Possession Hours
Total non-mission capable maintenance rate indicates if maintenance is
being performed quickly and accurately. High-performing maintenance units
will maintain a low TNMCM rate.
TNMCM (%) = NMCM Hours -t- NMCB Hours x 100
Repeat/recurring (R/R) discrepancy rate is the most important and most
accurate leading indicator metric of maintenance quality. R'R is the average
number of repeat and recur system malfunctions compared to the total number of
aircrew discrepancies reported. A repeat discrepancy occurs when the same
malfunction appears on the next sortie attempt after the discrepancy originally
occurred and was cleared by maintenance. High- performing maintenance
organizations maintain a low H R.
R/R (0/o) = Total Repeats Total Recurs x 100
Total Pilot Reported Disrepancies
High-performing maintenance organizations of similar aircraft types will
achieve lower maintenance abort rates, lower break rates, low er cannibalization
rates, lower awaiting maintenance delayed discrepancy rates, low'er total non-
mission capable for maintenance rates, and lower repeat/recur rates. High-
performing maintenance organizations will achieve higher mission capable rates,
higher schedule effectiveness rates, and higher maintenance scheduling
effectiveness rates. The highest-performing maintenance squadron by these
standards for 2004-2006, wdthin Air Combat Command, is the 366th Aircraft
Maintenance Squadron (AMS), F-16 division. Mountain Home Air Force Base,
Idaho. The 366th AMXS maintains F-16 and F-15 fighter aircraft. The F-16
division leads the F-16 combat fleet in all leading metrics for the past 24
Various factors could also account for these data. The 389th AMU is the
only F-16 AMU assigned to Mountain Home AFB. Most other wings that have
F-16s will have at least 3 AMUs competing for and sharing resources.
Additionally, the 389th AMU has newer aircraft than most other F-16 units in
ACC so they are less likely to break as often. Finally, due to its active
operational deployments, the 389th AMU maintains a higher priority for parts
and support than many other organizations with lesser operational commitments.
Transformation involves a change in composition, structure, character, or
condition (American Heritage Dictionary, 1998), and systems are constantly
transforming (Clarke, 2003). Individuals and groups of individuals, like
organizations, are systems that learn and hence transfonn (Senge, 1990).
In our day-to-day activities most of our thinking is reactive. It is
spurred by immediate needs and demands. It takes things as they
are; the problem is to adjust to them, make them workable,
acceptable. We adjust as best we can-to low incomes, aches and
pains, the neighborhood, bad weather, problems in school or at
the workplace. Our thinking is practical, expedient, sometimes
shrewd, and usually short-run. We cope. Of a qualitatively
different nature is thinking that looks not to cope with things but
to alter them. It, too, is in a sense reactive, but it is a considered
response to deep and fundamental needs and it seeks solutions-
changes-that go to their roots; that are significant and lasting. To
think this way is to think transformationally. (Bums, 1991)
The Partnership for 2U Century Skills identifies key elements necessary
to prepare tomorrow 's leaders that guide the development of school curriculum
and learning assessments (Kozma. 2003). These elements are (a) increase higher
levels of understanding in core subjects, (b) promote higher-order thinking, (c)
improve problem solving, (d) improve analysis skills, (e) increase creativity, (f)
improve communication skills, (g) increase collaboration, (h) improve decision
making, and (i) increase participation in authentic projects (Kozma). Many of
these factors emerged during this case study, and they support more
transformational, team-oriented, democratic, synergistic, inclusive, generalized,
and performance-based skill sets than the positivist ones supported by Weber
Technologies are an organization's tools and cognitive processes that are
the means of achieving its mission (Ellul, 1964). Exponentially, humans are
increasingly dependent upon increasingly complex technology (Davis. 1981).
Observing our increasing demand for laptop computers, internet access, and
mobile cellular microelectronics, this still holds true today. Our technology
improves our capabilities, but may also increase our vulnerabilities. No one can
say for sure if this is a positive or negative plan for human kind. However,
people steadily improve production per capita with each passing year (Ellul).
This literature suggests that leaders of high-performing organizations must be
intimately aware of the tools and cognition required to achieve their
Implementation of new tools and techniques is made easier when
organizational culture is open to change and learning (Moursund, 2002). Well
designed cognitive tools, for example, should (a) represent knowledge, (b) be
generalizable, (c) engage the user in critical thinking, (d) assist users to acquire
skills that are generalizable and transferable to other contexts, (e) be both simple
and powerful to encourage deeper thinking and processing of information, and
(1) be easy to learn (Alagic, 2003). Individuals need to learn how to use
technology as a medium for thinking, creation, and invention rather than only
productivity (Jacobson & Lock, 2004). These ideas suggest that 21st century
tools should be interactive and organizations-participative.
Figure 2.1 frames the literature review thus far. Humans join
organizations based upon their perception that by participating in that
organization, they can better manage the stress generated by their changing
environment and that they will have greater opportunities and access to
resources in their future. Transformation is described as the constant changing of
technologies used to accomplish work. Leadership is grounded in these
instinctual responses to stress, opportunity, and in relation to changing
technologies. Leadership and organizational performance are embedded in these
foundations to human development and organizational behavior.
Systems Theory / Change Theory
Figure 2.1. Leaders ought to be able to mitigate individual stress, individual and group
opportunities, and manage the development and effects of new technologies as they relate to our
changing environment. Individuals submit to the leadership of others and to organizational
norms in order to attain opportunities and navigate change.
Leadership and Power
Sociologists Michels and Mosca argued that all large organizations have
thus far formed naturally such that power and leadership flow top-down
(Mazlish, 1984). Mazlish identifies two bodies of theory developed in the early
twentieth century about power and leadership, that of the sociologists and that of
the psychoanalysts. Power exists in every relationship between human beings
(Follett, 2001). What varies, is each persons awareness, willingness, and
abilities to manage power situations and make choices. An outcome of power
can be capitulation, obedience, or acceptance (Muth. 1971). Members can better
choose when to lead or follow if they have an understanding of power
relationships (Mintzberg, 1979).
How an organization is structured, and how it makes decisions, reflects
its beliefs about power and leadership as well as its core values. The Air Force is
structured such that supervisors have positional power and authority over
subordinates. This study suggests that effective leaders are mostly collaborative
and team oriented, sharing power and gaining acceptance rather than demanding
obedience or capitulation accept in case of emergencies, crisis, or in holding
others accountable for attaining the minimum standards.
High-level executives typically make strategic decisions on the direction
of their organization (Hill & Jones, 2005). Top-down decision-making suggests
that those with the most information at the top of the organization should make
most decisions (Simon, 1977). The decision-style model adjusts the decision-
making steps contingent upon the situation (Simon). Possible styles include (a)
directive, (b) analytical, (c) conceptual, and (d) behavioral (Rowe, Boulgarides,
& McGrath, 1984). Directive decisions are simple, clear solutions utilized when
time is of the essence. Analytical decisions are more scientific in nature where
alternative solutions are identified and analyzed. Conceptual decisions are those
that require individual input and creativity. Behavioral decisions are made with
deep concern for others' social well being, usually conducted in lengthy
meetings, and with tedious debate (Rowe et al). This model of decision-making
describes well how most decisions are made in unit-level organizations.
More recent models embrace a somewhat different frame for making
decisions. "It is the membership and interactions within that membership that
provide the definition, the direction, and the power of the community" (Pillai &
Williams, 2004, p. 152). Leaders somehow harness the energy of their
communities and focus that energy on accomplishing a synergizing set of tasks.
Leadership then, is largely symbolic, and the fonnation of organizations and
achievement of high levels of organizational performance are social
phenomenon (Zacarro & Klimoski, 2000).
Most all leadership models indicate that what people say (attributes) and
do (behaviors) effects how other members feel about their tasks (motivation) and
their organization (morale). In a systems frame, w hat everyone says and does or
fails to say and do in every situation makes a difference to individual
performance. Figure 2.2 is a visual representation of our overall understanding
of leadership and helps frame how I approached the research relating leader
attributes and behaviors in various situations to perfonnance. Context in this
representation means everything else that has led up to and surrounds the
leadership situation at that moment. Context, then, incorporates the element of
Figure 2.2. Performance-based leadership incorporates the attributes and behaviors of individuals
in specific situations in specific environments.
Following are several contemporary definitions: Leadership is an
influence relationship among leaders and their collaborators who intend real
changes that reflect their mutual purposes (Faris & Outcalt, 2000, p. 10).
Leadership is an influence process whereby one gains the trust and respect of
subordinates and moves them toward goals without reliance upon positional
authority (Ulmer, 2000, p. 26). Leadership is more accurately a relationship, a
process, about change, something that can be learned, inclusive, collaborative,
made up of multiple relationships, and oriented toward influencing change
(Paparone, 2004, p. 4). Mazlish (1984) concludes that (a) a leader for all people
and all situations does not exist, (b) leaders only exist when interacting with the
group led, (c) leadership is largely symbolic, (d) leaders transform into the
personal image that they envision for themselves, and (e) leadership is held
within an ideology and an organization.
Traditional Leadership Models
Trait and Great Man" theories may still bid merit in some societies, but
they are less meaningful since Stogdills and Mann's studies of 1948 and 1959
respectively. The study of traits is too specific and cannot be generalized or
taught to other cultures. Trait theory measures leadership through the Leadership
Trait Questionnaire. This measure compares how the supervisor views her/his
leadership traits to how subordinates rank the supervisor's traits. The eighteen-
question skills inventory is very subjective and fails to compare scores to actual
organizational perfonnance (Stogdill, 1948). Physical traits common among
leaders vary w ith diverse organizations and do not emerge at all during my
study. However, Stogdill was instrumental in creating interest in the leadership
phenomenon at a time when gender in the work place was becoming an
important social discussion.
The intuitive appreciation of charismatic leadership still persists;
however, charisma is often described as a personality trait that cannot be taught
(Bums, 2003). Charisma is the ability to communicate group objectives in an
emotionally inspiring, symbolic way. Contrary to many charismatic theories,
recent leadership studies have actually found thoughtful, reserved, and even shy
leaders behind the most successful organizations (Collins, 2001), perhaps
because charismatic models of leadership do not correlate well with sustained
economic performance. However, historical examples of charismatie leaders
such as Ghandi and Martin Luther King (MLK) show that charisma can play an
enormous role in creating significant tension and motivation for change.
Students of social justice, such as MLK, suggest that charismatic factors can be
learned and developed over time.
Skills and styles theories also have their critics. Skill models have been
criticized for being too broad and unrelated to organizational performance
(Bryman 1992; Yukl, 1994). The styles approach to leadership is criticized
because it has not determined a universal style and has not been related to
organizational performance (Yukl). The Style Questionnaire measures task
versus relationship orientations for the leader, but does not compare either to
organizational outcomes. However, Yukl has had a dynamic effect on leadership
research by suggesting that a leaders favored orientation towards tasks and
relationships can be paired w ith the right position, or balanced within an
organizational leadership team.
In the 1980s. the situational approach appeared and attempted to capture
the context for leadership. However, its concepts are ambiguous, its various
levels of development are unclear, and its assumptions lack theoretical basis
(Northouse, 2004; Vecchio & Boatwright, 2002). The situational approach
emphasizes the concept that leaders must learn about their subordinates and their
systems before leading effectively but fails to relate leadership approaches to
ov erall performance. Situational awareness has become a cornerstone in
contemporary leadership modeling. The model was the first to recognize that
leadership is contextual and may need to be personalized to individuals, to
organizational circumstances, and to specific situations.
Contingency theory emerged shortly after the situational model.
However, it fails to improve our understanding of teachable/'leamable methods
of leadership (Fiedler, 1993). Measurements lack face validity, and the theory
does not explain what to do when leader style is mismatched with an
organization's situation. Contingency theory does consider systemic
contextualized information but does not consider the phenomenon of emergent
leaders or organizational performance. Instead, it focuses upon behaviors of
appointed executive leaders (Yukl, 1994). Contingency theory has been pivotal
for many talent search committees who work to find the right leadership
personality for the right job.
Path-goal theory, a contemporary of situational and contingency theories,
is too complex and incorporates too many variables to be reliable and fails to
relate leadership behavior with motivation (Dansereau. Graen, & Haga; 1975). A
path-goal approach to leadership evolved from expectancy theory but treats
leadership as a one-way event and often is compared to trait theory. Similarly,
Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) theory attends to the importance of
communication and learning and explains how influencing others can cause the
formation of "in-groups and out-groups that have access to information and are
empowered by an organization to make change.
Systems thinking and multidisciplinary analysis inform the latest theories
of transformational leadership (Bums, 2003; Graham, 1995). Contemporary and
theoretical works call for a multidisciplinary analysis of internal and external
systemic interactions and for analyzing and addressing root causes of conflict for
greater organizational cohesion (Bolman & Deal, 2003; Bums, 2003;
Hesselbein, Goldsmith. & Beckhard. 1996).
We keep breaking change into small pieces and then managing
the pieces. This is the legacy of Frederick Winslow Taylor and
scientific management. But with change, the task is to manage the
dynamic, not the pieces. The challenge is to innovate mental
work, not to replicate physical work. The goal is to teach
thousands of people how to think strategically, recognize
patterns, and anticipate problems and opportunities before they
occur. (Duck. 1998, pp. 57)
Transformational leadership stems from the Full-Range Leadership
Model (FRLM) (Avolio & Bass, 2004). The FRLM mirrors the psychology and
organizational behavior literature by categorizing leadership attributes and
behaviors into laissez-faire, transactional, and transformational factors. Laissez-
faire leaders engage only w hen problems arise. Transactional leaders tend to the
contractual standards and provide accountability. Transformational leaders, on
the other hand, proactively engage their organizations to encourage the most
optimum performance levels in relation to changing environmental factors.
Figure 2.3 represents the increasing effect upon organizational performance
claimed by the FRJLM.
Full Range Leadership Model
Figure 2.3. FRLM in relation to claimed performance effects.
Transformational leadership has several factors: Idealized influence,
inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized
consideration (Bass, 1991). These factors produce intermediate outcomes such
as improved team cohesion (Dionne et al., 2004). Pillai and Williams (2001)
strongly correlate transformational leadership to organizational cohesiveness (r =
.44) and cohesiveness to perceptions of unit performance (r = .42). Each factor is
discussed more fully below. Transformational leaders are 'socially oriented and
are willing to inhibit their use of pow er, and gain greater levels of long term
performance by developing a higher level of autonomy, achievement, and
performance in associates who follow them (Avolio & Bass. 2004. p. 28).
Transformational leaders increase their influence by investing in developing the
abilities of others (Avolio & Bass).
The first factor of transformational leadership is idealized influence.
Idealized influence is best defined as "setting the example" and meeting or
exceeding the behavioral expectations of organizational members (Avolio &
Bass. 2004). People who "take a stand and exhibit a clear set of values and are
able to effectively communicate those values attain idealized influence.
A second factor of transformational leaders is inspirational motivation.
Inspirational motivation is the willingness for followers to increase their
contributions to the group as a result of leaders w ho effectively communicate
shared goals and values (Avolio & Bass, 2004). Inspirational leaders are focused
on the good of the group and often communicate the group's shared vision
(Avolio & Bass).
Third, intellectual stimulation is a factor of transformational leadership
that involves listening and empowering (Avolio & Bass, 2004). Associates who
are able to explore freely and share their ideas and values without ridicule or
judgment are more likely to grow more autonomous and increase their overall
contribution to the group (Avolio & Bass). "Leaders become transforming and
intellectually stimulating to the extent that they can discern, comprehend,
conceptualize, and articulate to their associates the opportunities and threats
facing their organization, as well as its strengths"' (Avolio & Bass. p. 29).
Individualized consideration involves listening attentively; learning the
various needs, abilities, and motivations of individuals; and coaching and
teaching (Bass. 1985, 1990). "Individually considerate" leaders initiate and
maintain personal relationships responding to each member's personal needs
(Bass, 1994; Yammarino & Dansereau, 1998).
Transformational leadership does have its critics. Overlap between each
of the four factors of transformational leadership exists in many studies, calling
into question the internal reliability of the Multiple Leadership Questionnaire
(MLQ) (Tejeda, Scandura, & Pillai, 2001; Tracey & Hinkin, 1998; Yukl, 1999).
At one time, the concepts also were not clear or precisely measured. More
recently, how ever the MLQ has been revised to incorporate many ideas from
these studies into its current Form 5X. Internal reliability has improved
significantly (Avolio & Bass, 2004).
Air Force Leadership
In contrast to the Full Range Leadership Model, Air Force Doctrine
Document 1-1 stratifies leadership characteristics into personal, team, and
strategic factors that are developed "just-in time" along the course of a
member's career. Air Force doctrine maintains foundational doctrine statements
that represent leadership "best-practices compiled over time. The Air Force
Leadership Development Model (AFLDM) describes 24 competency factors
beneath three stratified levels. Figure 2.4 uses a pyramid to describe how an
individual currently learns and is expected to participate in Air Force leadership
competencies. It further represents how it has its leadership talent dispersed
throughout the organization, suggesting that only a very small percentage of Air
Force members receive, and are expected to participate in strategic leadership.
Air Force Doctrine Document 1-1 identifies levels and factors for
leadership development. Doctrine is an accumulation of best practices and
corporate knowledge. Air Force leadership doctrine stratifies leadership into
three factors: personal, people/team, and strategic (AFDD 1-1, 2004). Factors of
personal leadership include exercising sound judgment, adapting and performing
under pressure, inspiring trust, courageous initiative, self-assessment, and
fostering effective communication (AFDD 1 -1). Factors of people/team
leadership include driving performance through shared vision, values, and
accountability; influencing through win/win solutions; mentoring and coaching
Figure 2.4. Air Force Leadership Development Model and AFDD 1-1 stratified leadership
for growth and success, promoting collaboration and teamwork; and building
and maintaining partnerships to maximize results (AFDD 1-1). Institutional
leadership factors include shaping Air Force strategy, commanding
organizational and mission success through enterprise integration and resource
stewardship, embracing change and transformation, driving execution, and
attracting, retaining, and developing human talent (AFDD 1-1).
Creating future Air Force leaders is the responsibility of the
current leaders, and force development is their tool to do so. The
more effort that is placed in using this tool, the better the leaders
it will produce. By using the organized approach of developing
leaders from the tactical level, through the operational, leading to
the most senior strategic levels in the Air Force, the service will
ensure its continued preeminent position in the world. Leaders are
inextricably linked to mission effectiveness; developing those
leaders in a deliberate process that guarantees the Air Force will
produce the requisite leadership. Leadership and force
development must continue to provide the Air Force with its most
valuable resource: its people, its motivated and superbly qualified
Airmen (p. 35)... A phased approach at tactical, operational, and
strategic levels provides the framework for focusing development
of occupational skill sets and enduring leadership competencies.
Force development is a series of experiences and challenges,
combined with education and training opportunities that are
directed at producing Airmen who possess the requisite skills,
knowledge, experience, and motivation to lead and execute the
full spectrum of Air Force missions. It is the method the Air
Force uses to grow experienced, inspirational leaders who have
the necessary technical competencies and professional values,
framed by a common culture, regardless of career specialty.
(AFDD l-1,2004, p. 41)
The AFLDM produces 24 competency factors (102 sub-factors) beneath
3 levels of leadership: tactical, operational, and strategic (AFDD 1-1,2004).
Appendix C, Air Force Leadership Factors, provides a matrix for the levels and
factors of the AFLDM. The left column of the table identifies and defines
tactical, operational, and strategic leadership. As personnel advance in their
knowledge, they should be able to achieve personal, organizational, and finally
strategic leadership. The second column contains factors of each of the stratified
leadership categories. These factors are best defined by the actions and
characteristics as described in the third column. Tactical level leadership
competency factors include exercising sound judgment, adapting, inspiring trust,
leading courageously, demonstrating tenacity, leading by example, and assessing
self (AFDD 1-1). Operational level competency leadership factors include
inspiring, empowering and exercising authority, influencing and negotiating,
attracting and developing and retaining talent, fostering effective
communication, fostering teamwork and collaboration, mentoring and coaching,
and building networks (AFDD 1-1). Strategic level leadership competency
factors include shaping strategy, translating strategy, thinking working across
boundaries, applying resource stewardship, driving execution, commanding,
creating and demonstrating vision, driving transformation, driving continuous
improvement, and integrating systems (AFDD 1-1). These categories and factors
of leadership make up the core leadership model from which the Air Force
constructs career progression and professional development for all its members.
Relating leadership to performance is extremely complex and may, in
fact, be inappropriate when considering all the factors involved. However, this
chapter provides a foundation in psychology and organizational behavior from
which to view transformation and leadership from a performance frame.
Leadership may not be as a-la-carte as many would have us believe, nor is it as
neat and stratified as some models suggest. In aircraft-maintenance, leadership
may be the most important factor to a unit's success and to the Air Force's
ability to retain highly skilled and capable personnel. These factors should be
considered and analyzed before blending organizational structures and for
providing unique leadership development and education opportunities to all its
members. In an era where operating budgets are shrinking, operations are global,
and operating environments are transforming, the Air Force may require a new
kind of leadership and complimentary organizational structure.
The purpose of my case study, in the absence of a performance-based
leadership measure, is to interview aircraft maintainers in a high-performing
operational unit and model their definitions, factors, and variable relationships of
leadership and organizational performance. Descriptive statistics were compiled
from the MLQ5x questionnaire. Finally, comparisons were made between the
emergent model, the Full Range Leadership Model, and the Air Force
Leadership Development Model to relate both theories to practice in an Air
Force, aircraft-maintenance context.
A LEADERSHIP CASE STUDY OF A USAF HIGH-PERFORMING
The following outlines the epistemology, research methods, and
instruments for this study. A single case study provided the best way to capture
meaningful and symbolic data required to define and relate leadership and
organizational performance for a high-performing Air Force organization.
The primary instruments for collecting data were interviews and a survey. The
primary methods for analysis were classical content and domain analysis
utilizing NVivo 7.0 and descriptive statistics. These data provide a path of
comparison between the case studys model of leadership, the Full Range
Leadership Model, and the Air Force Leadership Development Model.
Critical realists gain understanding through experience and from various
sources of evidence (Mertz, 2006). Additionally, theory organizes concepts in
meaningful ways that suggest relationships among variables and factors (Mertz;
Robertson, 1987). In the spirit of post-positivism, the interactionist perspective
in sociology focuses on people's actions, responses, and influences between
people (Mertz; Robertson). "Society is ultimately created, maintained, and
changed by the social interaction of its members" (Robertson, p. 20). In this
context, this study analyzes leadership and performance through the voices of
Symbolic interactionism examines signs, gestures, rules, written, and
spoken language as representations of the recordable interactions between
individuals in a society (Hammersley, 1990; Zacarro & Klimoski, 2000).
"People do not respond to the world directly: they place a social meaning on it
and respond to that meaning'' (Robertson, 1987, p. 21). Thus, meaning is found
in the language used in interviews.
Case studies utilize interviews, questionnaires, documentary data, and
some observational techniques at various levels within an organization (Yin.
1994). Uniqueness, not generalization, is a goal in case studies (Lofland, 1976).
Towards this end, this study is rooted in a critical realist and interactionist
epistemological perspective (Groff. 2004; Hilbert, 1992). A case study is an
empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within a real-
life context (Yin). Furthermore, single case studies can affirm or disconfirm a
theory's propositions (Yin). A single case study emerged as the best method in
respect to the many details that situate this study.
This is a single case study design in which I conducted interviews and
gave subjects the MLQ5X survey. The interview collected data for the puipose
of discovering how members of the 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit a) define
performance, b) identify factors of performance, c) identify meaningful
leadership attributes and behaviors, and d) relate leadership to organizational
performance. Interview data were recorded, reviewed to build cognitive maps,
transcribed into word documents, transferred into NVivo 7.0, coded, grouped,
and finally reported. These steps resulted in the development of a performance-
based leadership model that was then compared to other leadership models.
Merriam (1998) states that sampling occurs on two levels: case selection
and subject selection. For the case, I chose the first sampling level by choosing a
single case based on Air Force performance metrics. In the Air Force,
maintenance organizations report daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual
performance metrics internally and to Air Combat Command (ACC). I control
for performance in this study by using Air Force maintenance performance-
metrics to select a high-perfonning case. I contacted ACC and received aircraft-
maintenance performance indicators for all maintenance units over the past 24
months and selected a high-perfonning aircraft-maintenance unit (AMU) from
Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho (see Appendix A).
The second level of sampling intently desired to interview and survey
diverse subjects from the 389th AMU. Maximum variant sampling is an
acceptable method of purposefully identifying subjects in case studies that can
contribute diverse definitions and interactions of variables (Merriam, 1998).
Since the AFLDM is stratified, then interviewing subjects from various ranks
was important in discovering new variables. Groups based upon a member's
rank account for Groups 1, 2, 3. 4, and 5. Rank in the Air Force signifies a
member's experience, level of responsibilities, power, and pay. Table 3.1
identifies and defines each group. Other leadership studies identify differences
in leadership variables among genders and ethnicity, so these factors were
considered after a population from various ranks wras considered (Bass, 1998;
Greenleaf, 1977). Group 6 is a compilation of all male responses. Group 7
consists of all female responses. Group 8 includes all Caucasian data. Group 9
consists of all Hispanic data. Finally, Group 10 includes all African American
With the help of organizational members, a list of subjects was created
based upon the guidance of maximum variance and prioritized by rank groups,
gender, and then ethnicity. By maximum variance, Merriam (1994) suggests
subjects may be purposefully selected so that specific subject characteristics
vary in degree. For example, a senior. Caucasian, male subject may be
contrasted with a junior, minority, female subject. Maximum variant subjects are
likely to develop unique differences and irregular data patterns. Comparing rank
and positions along side leadership and performanee stratifications was
important for this study. It provided a means of testing stratified military
leadership modeling. Performance and leadership charaeteristics and
relationships as described by diversely ranked subjects would either pattern in a
stratified method that supports military leadership doctrine, or it would pattern to
compliment AFLDM stratification. Additionally, males and females may either
describe performance and leadership similarly, or key differences may emerge
that may align or contrast with other gender leadership studies. Similarities or
differences may also emerge from various racial groups. However, the primary
focus of this study is to challenge or support the stratification of military
Table 3.1 is a sampling matrix that helped identify subjects for
interviews. Twenty-five subjects (23% of the maintainers assigned to the 389th
Aircraft Maintenance Unit) were interviewed. The interviews took place in the
subjects workplace during normal work hours. Interviews were conducted in
the organizational conference room or subject's private office. Interviews were
scheduled for 30 minutes each. I took notes during the interview and refined
questions as the interv iews ensued. Responses to questions were audio recorded
in all interv iews but one.
Table 3.1 shows the group number, group description, number of
interviews by group, and the total available population from which the sample
was drawn. Of the twenty-five interviewees, twenty-three members completed
the MLQ5X survey and an open-ended questionnaire. Two members did not fill
out the questionnaire. I was able to interview Groups 1. 2. and 3 until no new
data emerged for at least one interview for that rank group. I interviewed all the
persons available in Groups 4 and 5. which for this unit was only three subjects.
The N values in Table 3.1 represent the number of interv iewees in each group.
N" for the officer groups were used to ensure the anonymity of the few officers
who were interviewed.
Rank, gender, and ethnicity were considerations for this study. Rank
groups 1-5 were interviewed until data saturation was reached or until all
available members in the group were interviewed. Gender was also considered
for sampling purposes. Females only make up approximately 10 percent of the
total population in the unit, they represented 20% of the sample. Ethnically, 20
members were Caucasian, 4 were Hispanic, and 1 was African American. These
samplings more closely represented their respective populations.
Group Description N Total Pop
1 E1-E4 5 170
2 E5-E6 6 133
3 E7-E9 11 52
4 01-03 N N
5 04-05 N N
6 Male 20 325
7 Female 5 34
8 Caucasian 20 274
9 Hispanic 4 42
10 African American 1 21
.Vote: N was placed in the table to protect subject identifications. Officers (Groups 4 and 5)
accounted for only 3 subjects total.
In Table 3.1. "E" indicates enlisted ranks. Enlisted members are required
to have a high school diploma or equivalent and pass a battery of military
service examinations before they are enlisted. However, an increasing number of
enlisted members are pursuing college degrees while in the service. Enlisted
members receive continuous technical, professional, and academic education.
E1-E4 indicates the most junior group of Air Force members and corresponds
respectively to the titles of airman basic, airman, airman first class, and senior
airman. Group 1 represents the most junior members of the Air Force who, in
aircraft maintenance, perform mostly simple technical tasks while
accomplishing on-the-job training. Group 1 is closely supervised and trained by
E5-E6 (Group 2) represents the non-commissioned officers (NCOs) of
the Air Force. The ranks correspond respectively to staff sergeant and technical
sergeant. These groups are considered the technical experts in their fields,
accomplish most of the more difficult technical tasks, and train and superv ise
Group 1. Once promoted to NCO. members are eligible to attend the NCO
Academy that focuses on teaching them personal-supervisory leadership skills.
E7-E9 (Group 3) represents the rank titles of master sergeant, senior
master sergeant and chief master sergeant. This group is often referred to as
senior non-commissioned officers (SNCOs). SNCOs are eligible to attend the
SNCO Academy and usually supervise sections, flights, or perform master level
'0,? indicates officer rank. Officers are required to have a bachelor
degree and attend a commissioning program. Commissioning programs include
Reserve Officer Training Corps, the Air Force Academy, or Officer Training
School. These schools provide various levels of personal and organizational
leadership training and leadership opportunities. 01-3 (Group 4) are considered
company grade officers (CGOs). CGOs superv ise flight-level groups ranging
from 40 to 180 members or attend technical upgrade training. In maintenance,
CGOs are often paired with an experienced SNCO. Once selected for 0-3,
members may attend Squadron Officer School which delivers additional
organizational and leadership knowledge. Officer ranks of 04-5 (Group 5) are
referred to as field grade officers. Field grade officers usually manage major
projects, direct organizational operations, or supervise squadrons ranging in size
from 50 to 600 members. Once selected for 0-4, those eligible may attend Air
Command and Staff College that again provides more detailed Air Force
organizational and leadership knowledge and skills development. Once
promoted to the rank of 0-5 (Lieutenant Colonel), members may attend Air War
College or other Senior-officer development education (SDE) opportunity. SDE
mostly focuses on organizational and strategic education and leadership.
IT# Group 1 E1-F.4 Group 2 E5-E6 Group 3 E7-E9 Group 4-5 01-05 Group 6 Male Group 7 Female Group 8 CA Group 9 HA Group 10 AA
Note'. An indicates the existence of the condition stated in the column heading for that
Table 3.2 provides a detailed layout of individual subject attributes.
Subjects are numbered by order they were interviewed, transcribed, and
analyzed. For example, subject #1 is an E5-E6, male, and Caucasian.
Interviewee #2 is an E7-E9, while #3 is an E1-E4, Caucasian, and female. Each
subject fit into three different groups; rank (Groups 1-5), gender (Groups 6-male
and 7-female), and ethnicity (Groups 8- Caucasian, 9-Hispanic, 10- African
I collected interview- and questionnaire-data from subjects over a three-
week period. The first three days were used to meet and introduce the study to
key members of the organization, to begin identifying subjects, and to schedule
interviews. Interviewing is the most common and often the only form of data
collection in qualitative studies (Merriam, 1998). Between two and four
interviews and questionnaires were conducted per day for the next nine week-
days. Interviewees were asked to complete the questionnaire after the conclusion
of their interview. Five members stated they did not have time to complete the
questionnaire right away, so I let them take the questionnaire with them, and
made arrangements to pick up the completed questionnaire before I departed.
Interviews were digitally recorded. Questionnaires were completed on paper and
filed for analysis.
Two instruments were used to collect data in this study; semi-structured
interviews that were digitally recorded and a questionnaire completed on paper.
Asking good questions is pivotal to successful interviews (Mertz, 2006; Rubin &
Rubin, 1995). Four types of questions have been shown to be effective in
collecting valuable qualitative data. These are hypothetical questions, devil's
advocate questions, ideal position questions, and interpretive questions
(Merriam). Based on these suggestions, appropriate interview questions were
developed into a semi-structured script to guide the interviews (see Appendix
Questions 1 and 2 were chosen to discover perceived performance
factors. Even though I had identified and defined performance up to this point
through production metrics, I desired to know if unit members would define
individual and organizational performance in other ways. Questions 3-5 were
asked to identify individual perceptions and definitions of good leaders and good
leadership. Questions 6 and 7 were chosen to identify the perceived relationship
between leadership and performance. Finally, questions 8 and 9 were chosen to
help identify leadership and performance challenges that perhaps were not being
addressed and to open discussion as to what leaders could do at various levels to
meet the identified challenges and to discover the potential effects on
performance. It was my hope that these questions would further support
constructs already developed by other questions with real examples of how
leaders can affect organizational performance.
Triangulation. Multiple investigators, sources of data, or methods may
confirm emerging findings (Merriam. 1998, p. 204). In this study, triangulation
was achieved by utilizing multiple data sources and multiple methods to analyze
the data. Data sources included multiple interviews, documentation, open-ended
written questions, and the MLQ 5X. Multiple methods included cognitive
mapping, narrative analysis, and simple quantitative analysis.
The MLQ5X questionnaire was the other data collection instrument used
in this study. Questionnaires often are used in quantitative analysis in the form
of surveys (Kvale, 2002). Answers to the MLQ5X helped moderate my biases as
a researcher, helped me triangulate findings, and helped me compare leadership
models. Interview subjects were asked to complete the MLQ5X at the
conclusion of their interviews. Qualitativ e data were transcribed and entered into
NVivo, while the quantitative data were entered into SPSS 11.5. Questionnaire
data were not used to compare means but rather to connect interview data with
the FRLM for comparison of the emergent leadership model.
Additional demographic questions were asked at the beginning of the
MLQ5X Survey. Members were requested to pick the most influential member
in the organization that effected how they performed tasks and rate them using
the survey. The primary purpose of the survey was to relate emergent themes to
the FRLM. Second, the survey helped identify contextual factors regarding
perceptions of laissez-faire, transactional, and transformational leadership.
Third, the survey supported findings with descriptive statistics.
External Validity. The MLQ 5X is the product of more than 25 years of
research initiated by Burns in 1978 (Avolio & Bass. 2004). For example. "For
72 U.S. light infantry platoon leaders, those who were rated higher in garrison
on transformational leadership, led their platoons more effectively in near-
combat readiness missions one month later" (p. 35). Studies utilizing the MLQ
span the globe to include Spain (Molero and Morales, 1994), the Phillippines
(Cantanyag, 1995), Austria (Geyer & Streyrer, 1998), Canada (Howell &
Avolio, 1993). China (Davis, 1997), Poland (den Hartog, 1997), and even North
Sea oil platforms (Carnegie. 1995). "The Form 5x has been used in nearly 300
research programs, doctoral dissertations and masters theses around the globe in
the nearly ten years between 1995 and 2004 (Avolio & Bass. 2004, p. 24). The
MLQ 5X appears to be an externally valid measure of the Full-range Leadership
Model and transformational leadership factors.
Construct ValidityOver the past 25 years, the factors of the MLQ have
been refined (Avolio & Bass. 2004). Extensive factor tests have been completed
using large, normative, international populations (N > 2,500) resulting in the
best-fit MLQ 5X (Avolio & Bass, 2004). Results have been well correlated with
cognitive and personality assessments (Avolio & Bass, 2004).
Transcribing interviews takes a considerable amount of time, yet
Merriam (1998) discusses the importance of beginning to process data
immediately during and after each interview, and throughout the interview
process. Since I did not have a lot of time between interviews or for data
collection, I constructed a cognitive map of each interview following each
interv iew. These rough sketches of variables and factors helped inform
subsequent interviews. The cognitive map enabled immediate comparisons to
the literature and enabled key variables to emerge during the interv iew process
(Miles & Huberman. 1994). The reflection period was key to "narrowing the
study," "developing analytical questions," "planning the next interview."
recording "observer comments," writing memos about learning, "trying out
ideas and themes on subjects," reviewing pertinent literature," and developing
visual devices (Merriam, 1998, p. 163).
Organizational members were first asked how they define and measure
the performance of their organization. These data were recorded during the
interview. I took some notes during the interv iews, and recorded simple
relationships between variables made by the subjects. Each night, after that
day's interviews. I replayed each interview and carefully developed a cognitive
network of emergent variables, factors, and directional relationships between
factors and variables. These maps were not weighted or correlated, but did
identify main variables, factors, and relationships that helped frame future
interv iews. These maps were again very useful at the end of the study as visual
representations of emergent themes and relationships.
Next, data was transcribed into NVivo, coded, and analyzed. I transcribed
the data word for word from the digital audio recordings into Microsoft Word
documents. Then I imported the entire documents into NVivo 7.0. Once
transcribed and transferred into NVivo, I began coding. I began coding the first
interview by grouping and chunking data that described definitions and
measures of organizational performance. Each code was given a title name that
best summed the exact transcribed word or words in the data. For example,
interviewee 3 stated. "I think all the stats and stuff is a good way to measure
how well w'e are doing.' "Stats and stuff' emerged, but easily fell into an
already established code titled "Performance Indicators.7' So this chunk of data
was coded "Performance Indicators.
Coding took place identifying every definition or measure of
organizational performance that emerged from each interview. Initial coding was
"verbatim. In other words, every word or phrase chunk was coded with a new
code unless it matched up exactly as a previous code. Next, "like-phrases" were
established into domains according to procedures outlined in Miles and
Hubennan (1994). NVivo 7.0 easily facilitated the coding process and
established a clear track record of variable and factor emergence for each
interviewee, for each group, and for the overall unit. The total list of
performance measures was captured in a table that identifies which groups of
interviewees identified the variable, and which ones did not identify the
performance measure. Performance measures that emerged could easily be
grouped into measures of organizational efficiency, measures of organizational
effectiveness, or morale. In other words, effectiveness, efficiency, and morale
emerged as performance measure domains. Table 3-2 is an example of how
these data were displayed so that comparisons could be made about the various
rank, gender, and ethnicity groups. A dot would appear in the table in rows and
under groups where the factor emerged. Nothing would appear in the row under
a group that did not produce the variable.
Emergent Performance Measures by Group
Gp1 Gp2 Gp3 Gp4 Gp5
The next area of the interview focused on how organizational members
described factors that affect the performance of their organization. The same
process of collection and analysis that was used to identify performance
measures was used to collect and process performance factors. That is a) data
were audio recorded, b) audio record was played back within a day of the
interview and a cognitive map was formed that identified and related variables,
c) cognitive maps informed future interviews and began identifying patterns and
irregularities, d) transcribed data into Microsoft Word and transferred document
into NVivo 7.0, e) coded data verbatim that identified factors or related factors
of performance using classical content analysis, f) reported factors in a table, and
g) consolidated factors into the broadest domains possible and displayed with a
visual representation of the emergent factor domains and relationships.
Next, I wanted to know how organizational members defined and
described the most effective leaders and leadership. Again, I used the same
method of data collection and analysis as performance measures and
performance factors. That is a) data were audio recorded, b) audio records were
played back within a day of the interview and a cognitive map was formed that
identified and related variables, c) cognitive maps informed future interviews
and began identifying patterns and irregularities, d) transcribed data into
Microsoft Word and transferred document into NVivo 7.0, e) coded data
verbatim that identified factors or related factors of performance using classical
content analysis, f) reported factors in a table, and g) consolidated factors into
the broadest domains possible and displayed with a visual representation of the
emergent factor domains and relationships.
Leadership and organizational performance are complex systems greatly
influenced by the context in which they occur and inherent in the unique social
relationships of a particular organization. Researchers of leadership may be
required to seek patterns and irregularities in the way organizational members
interact and reflect upon their organizational experiences. A case study provided
the best opportunity to identify leadership and relate it to organizational
performance for this particular organization. Modeling this particular
organization's leadership enabled both the model and the representative
organization to be compared to other models and organizations. It is possible,
that how an organization defines and measures its performance has much to do
with how an organization defines the factors of effective leadership.
This case study required I interact directly with members of the 389th
AMU at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho for three weeks. This time was mostly
spent conducting interviews. Research and data storage, use has been conducted
in accordance with the protocol approved by the Human Subjects Research
ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
The purpose of this study is to understand how a high-performing Air
Force maintenance organization defines and associates leadership and
performance and then to compare emergent themes with the Full Range
Leadership Model and the Air Force Leadership Development Model. The study
shows that performance is mainly characterized by meeting the flying-hour
contract, successfully completing wartime deployments, exceeding production-
performance indicators, and sustaining high-morale. Further, the study
characterizes effective leadership for members of the 389th AMU as caring,
knowledgeable, and effective communicators. This study identified a pattern of
reciprocating effects between leadership, motivation, performance, and morale.
Additionally, the study shows the emergent model is well represented by factors
of transformational leadership. Finally, the study suggests members of a high
performing organization desire leaders at all levels w ho can communicate
strategic, organizational, and personal leadership factors lending a few
recommendation for Air Force doctrine.
Cognitive maps are designs of factors and relationships drawn from the
language of others (Merriam, 1998; Miles & Hubennan, 1994). Cognitive maps
were drawn after each interview linking key variables for leadership and
performance made by the interviewee. The maps were later more-fully
developed during transcription. Each individual cognitive map captured every
factor, variable, and direction of perceived relationship for every interv iewee.
Individual cognitive maps were then combined to represent group perceptions of
leadership and performance in accordance with Table 4.1. In some cases, words
that were meant in very similar terms and context were combined into like-terms
when the individual maps were combined into group maps.
Furthermore, variables and factors were not correlated or weighted in the
models. However, the direction of relationships, as described by the subject's
language, was captured. Thus, multiple examples of the same relationship did
not transfer onto the cognitive map. For example, if a subject stated, "leaders are
good listeners," then this would be illustrated as "leaders listeners." If they
repeated the remark, no additional entry was made onto the map. If then a
member of the same group said, "headers listen and work well with others,
then these two data points may be combined and represented as headers -
Collaborative." The individualized maps are an accurate record of variables and
relationships discovered in the study. Combining like-terms began the formation
of domains, but the mapping analyses listed all new' variables with equal
representation. The maps can be compared for patterns and irregularities w ith
each other, to the domain analysis, and to similar interview data collected in the
Most responses from subjects described single-level, linear causation.
Meaning, subjects often stated A caused B, or A is B, but rarely did subjects
state that A caused B which causes C and D. These multi-level relationships
emerged from the data as each single-level data point was added to the cognitive
model. This development of group knowledge contributed to the overall
understanding of how leaders affect group performance.
Subjects unanimously identified leadership as having various effects
upon organizational performance. Key variables in the model emerge as nuclei
for many other variables and factors. Asking specific questions about leadership
and performance drove some variables to emerge. I have displayed the cognitive
maps in group order beginning with Group 1. Remarks about each map follow
the pattern of the study, which is performance, leadership, and then
relationships. Comparisons between groups are made as they emerge.
Most members from Group 1 (see Figure 4.1) spoke of personal
performance more than group performance and identified factors that affected
their ability to perform their individual tasks. This phenomenon, of describing
personal performance instead of group performance, lessened in Groups 2-5. For
example, Group-1 members stated that they don't really understand all the
metrics that everyone measures" but that "they are probably good ways to see
how we are doing as a unit" (IT#5. reference 3). Most members made more
personal references to performance like, "1 know when we're performing well
because everything runs well and nobody's [rushing me or is upset] with me"
(IT #6, reference 5). However, members of Group 1 articulated motivation,
leadership, training, and having the right equipment affected their performance.
"When you are motivated, you tend to do more. . and do better work" (IT#6,
Many leadership factors emerged from Group 1 but group members were
less knowledgeable about how those factors related to the overall unit
performance. Most leadership factors that emerged were related to morale or to
motivation. "Leaders are people you can go to and ask for help" (IT#11,
reference 8). A distinction between leaders and supervisors was made on this
point of approachability. "Some supervisors you can't talk to, they aren't leaders
even though they [are appointed over you]. Leaders listen to you, and care about
you, not just tell you what to do all the time" (IT#4. reference 3).
Leadership, for members of Group 1, effects how they perform their
individual tasks. "When I know they [supervisors/leaders] care about me. I'm
going to work harder for that person" (IT#3, reference 5). Leaders, "take time to
teach us how' to do things right, so of course we do the job better and faster"
(IT# 11, reference 13). The relationships indicate that supervision holds Group 1
accountable while leaders are approachable, knowledgeable, caring listeners and
teachers who motivate and train organizational members.
The "climate environment" variable emerged in the Group 1 model as a
consolidation of several references to organizational or institutional factors such
as "we perform well because everybody is training everybody all the time"
(IT# 1 1. reference 4) and "when we act like a team, everyone helping everyone,
then work gets done a lot quicker (IT#3. reference 4). These references refer
more to an organizational climate that is in place and affecting individual
motivation, group morale, and organizational performance.
Group 2 data, found in Figure 4.2, identifies similar hubs of references to
include leadership, organizational environment/climate, motivation, supervisory
accountability, and performance. Members of Group 2 added more variables and
references to teamwork factors within the organizational climate that improves
performance. Also, morale was identified as a moreindependent measure of
organizational performance instead of just an intermediary variable.
These data identify morale as a third area of organizational performance.
Morale has direct, indirect, and reciprocal effects as represented in Figure 4.3.
For example, subjects made the following statements, "Good organizations have
high morale (IT#8, reference 8), indirect, "Motivated workers pay attention
more" (IT#7, reference 1), and "[Good leaders] improve morale that gets other
people to do more and want to take the lead to do things on their own" (IT# 14.
reference 6). On the contrary, leading through accountability alone was "de-
motivating and led to "minimal performance (IT#9, reference 4). "You can
have good metrics, but then there's morale" (IT# 12. reference 3).
Group 2 desired a higher level of collaboration and teamwork.
Leadership by "position and fear" did not emerge from members of Group 2 as
in Group 1. Interestingly, members of Group 1 comprise the newest members of
the organization, are arguably in need of the most effective leadership the
organization has to offer, but members are directly supervised by the next least-
experienced members in the organization that is members of Group 2. Group 2
referenced empowerment, communication, group incentives, better cohesion,
and group competitiveness thirty two times in their interviews. Group 1
mentioned them in just 13 references. This trend coincides with the Air Force
doctrine that suggests organizational factors become more relevant to members
who have more experience. Group 2 members desire more empowerment to do
their jobs while they tend to exercise more direct accountability over less
Group 2 perceived leadership factors in very similar ways as Group 1.
Leadership was perceived as directly affecting how members feel about their
selves (pride), how they feel about their tasks (motivation), and how group
members feel about their organization (morale).
Figure 4.3. Leadership-motivation-performance-morale model.
According to Group 2-members, these feelings transferred to the amount
of initiative members exhibit and how well they perform their tasks. For
example one member stated, "Leaders . show you things so you become
confident in what you are doing. You take pride in your work and even become a
little competitive with other people to see who can do it the best" (IT#8,
Members from Group 3 (see Figure 4.4) were more specific when it
came to identifying measures of organizational performance. "Ops tempo," the
rate of flying and deployments that drive unit w orkload, emerged as a new
measure of performance. "Readiness," also emerged as a new measure of
performance. "Readiness" is an indicator of how' ready the unit is to deploy and
perform its primary mission in combat.
Leadership factors w ere very consistent w ith Groups 1 and 2. Leadership
attributes and behaviors were categorized into caring, knowledge, and setting the
example. Respect emerged as the "influence" that persuaded subjects to work
more efficiently and effectively. For example, "A leader is someone who is
going to stand up for what's right. Leaders have to have the courage to standup
to people. That's the kind of person Im going to respect and work hard for.-
(IT#2, reference 3).
Due to the small number of subjects, cognitive mapping for Groups 4 and
5 were combined in Figure 4.5. Officers did not put forth near as many factors as
the enlisted members. This could be because fewer were available to interview,
or because their ideas of performance and leadership were less diverse. Their
measures of performance were similar to other groups. Morale emerged as an
independent performance measure. Training and education, resources, and
motivation w'ere the three factors of performance stated by members of Group 4-
5. These performance factors were dependent upon the ability of leaders to focus
on the mission, improve processes, and on their ability to motivate their people.
Leaders, the data show, are knowledgeable, articulate, organized, and visible to
the other members of the unit.
Associate cognitive models were re-analyzed and formed into Groups 6
and 7 to represent how male subjects describe and relate leadership and
performance as compared to females. Few differences exist in the types of
leadership members found most effective. Overall, female members were more
Sets the Creatii^
V Division of
Teamwork I Training
Figure 4.4. Group 3 cognitive map.
Figure 4.5. Groups 4-5 cognitive map.
likely to exercise a more collaborative leadership style while male members
expressed a more directive tone in the leadership styles they employ. However,
both males and females desired the same collaborative environment in which to
operate and clearly stated that leaders must be good listeners. Irregularities can
be gleaned from a close comparison of the models. Females captured
professionalism and maturity as necessary characteristics for leaders. Males
stated morale greatly effected their retention decisions. Females favored humor
as a tactic to reduce stress and a valuable tool in transitioning to collaborative
problem solving. Figure 4.6 is a cognitive representation of Group 6. males. The
female group cognitive map is found in Figure 4.7. Females' ability to influence
others more often stems from their caring and know ledgeable perceptions while
males are perceived to often rely upon a more fear based, physical and
hierarchical-based influence. Subjects perceive needless directive and fear-based
influence as "immature and are more influenced by supervisors who listen
first, collaboratively problem solve, implement decisions, and then follow' up
and hold others accountable.
The same data were analyzed once more. However this time, in tenns of
ethnicity not rank or gender. Patterns and irregularities can be found by
comparing the Caucasian cognitive map of Figure 4.8 with the minority
cognitive map in Figure 4.9. Comparatively, minority subjects stated leaders
I rain mg &
Follow l Ip
Initiate (rui! Settin
Plan & Organize
Figure 4.6. Group 6 cognitive map.
Resource ^------------------ Direction
tools, lime, tech
Professional ------ Leaders
Initiate Goal Setting
Plan & Organize
Figure 4.7. Group 7 cognitive map.
Resource ------------------- Direction
should be directive but they "should take the time to explain why things are the
way they are (IT# 10, reference 2).
Meanwhile Caucasian subjects largely desired to be part of the goals and
decision-making process. Minorities seemed to prefer repetitive tasks, "leaders
should know what to do and tell us so we know whats going on (IT#8,
reference 2). On the other hand. Caucasians appeared to desire learning and
breadth of tasks. Additionally, minorities identified very different perfonnance
measures, which included being a least troublesome organization, having
transparency so outsiders can see and understand w hat is being done, and being
flexible and responsive to directions from higher authorities. They also were the
only group to identify intelligence as a critical leader characteristic (IT# 15,
Summary of Cognitive Mapping
Leadership and performance factors were quite similar for all groups to
this point in the analysis. Leadership appears to evolve from know ledgeable,
experienced, usually supervisors, who provide accountability, provide adequate
resources, and care for others. Their care and knowledge are effectively
communicated through directing, teaching, and collaboration that builds
teamwork. Leaders build pride, motivation, morale, and directly contribute to
organizational effectiveness and efficiencies. A restriction to the mapping
process is it's two-dimensional and linear-causation assumptions.
Increase Certainty Helpful
Initiate Goal Setting
Plan & Organize
Figure 4.8. Group 8 cognitive map.
Train mg &
Plan it Organize
Figure 4.9. Groups 9 and 10 cognitive map.
tools, time, tech
Performance Measure Domains
The first part of the interview focused on definitions of performance.
Table 4-3 shows patterns and irregularities in the way the groups defined
organizational performance. Flying effectiveness, statistics, morale, successful
deployments, inspection results, group recognition, fewer work hours, safety, a
sense of things running smoothly, readiness, retention, transparency, and
responsiveness emerged as key organizational performance measures.
All ranks, genders, and ethnic groups identified meeting the contracted
flying-hour program as a good measure of their organization's performance.
This factor identifies the unit's core purpose for existence. Sixtv-six references
from 22 sources indicated the flying-hour contract is a measure of the unit's
primary mission and effectiveness. Member's defined this factor as. "getting all
our flying done" (1T#4, reference 4), "doing what we said we were going to do,"
"execute the plan," or meet the flying-hour program" (IT# 19, reference 3).
Additionally, all ranks and both genders identified performance-statistics
as a strong measure of organizational performance. Fifty-six references from 18
sources indicated statistical metrics are valid measures of performance. For
example, according to several interviews, turn-around on maintenance, flying
lots of "sorties," "the 8-hour fix rate, and repeating-recurring maintenance
discrepancies" were key performance indicators (IT#6. reference 1; IT#13.
Organizational Performance Measures
Performance Measure GP1 GP2 GP3 GP4 GP5 GP6 GP7 GP8 GP9 GP10
Flying Hour Program
Performance Metrics / Stats
High Morale Climate
Runs Smoothly / Work Less
Winning of Unit Awards
Accident /Safety Rate
Note: An indicates the existence of the condition stated in the row heading for at least one
subject of that particular group.
Male and female groups were represented by these references. However, non-
whites placed considerable less emphasis on statistical measures as indicators of
organizational performance. Zero references were made about statistics by
Hispanic or African American interviewees.
For most subjects, morale was the next most important measure of
organizational performance. Seventy references from 18 sources outlined
various causes and affects of morale as both a result of, and cause of,
organizational performance. Many members described morale as an
independent, yet equally important, measure of organizational performance that
relates to statistical measures, organizational inspections, unit awards, safety,
Sometimes youll have a really low-morale unit where
everyone is griping, complaining about the work but all of
the stats and metrics are really high. Where-as at other times