Exploring leadership styles for innovation: an exploratory factor analysis

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Abstract

Leadership plays a vital role in building the process, structures, and climate for an organisation to become innovative and to motivate team expectations toward innovations. This study explores the leadership styles that engineers regard as significant for innovation in the public sector. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted to identify the principal leadership styles influencing innovation in the Australian Public Service (APS), using survey data extracted from the 2014 APS employee census comprising 3 125 engineering professionals in Commonwealth of Australia departments. EFA returned a two-factor structure explaining 77.6% of the variance of the leadership for innovation construct. In this study, the results from the EFA provided a clear estimation of the factor structure of the measures for leadership for innovation. From the results, the two factors extracted were transformational leadership and consideration leadership. In transformational leadership, a leader values organisational objectives, inspires subordinates to perform, and motivates followers beyond expected levels of work standards. Consideration leadership refers to the degree to which a leader shows concern and expressions of support for subordinates, takes care of their welfare, treats members as equals, and displays warmth and approachability. These findings highlight the role of leadership as the most critical predictor when considering the degree to which subordinates strive for creativity and innovation. Both transformational and consideration leadership styles are recommended to be incorporated into management training and development programs. This study also recommends that Commonwealth departments recruit supervisors who have both of these leadership styles before implementing innovative projects.

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