On Leadership and Organizational Commitment

It’s a secret to nobody: “Organizational commitment is key to organizational success”. After all, committed employees perform better (Larson & Fukami, 1984), have greater well-being (Begley & Czajka, 1993), and are less likely to quit their jobs (Somers, 1995).

So how can leaders succeed in enhancing their subordinates’organizational commitment? Apparently, some leaders are better at it than others. In industrial-organizational psychology, a lot of attention has been given to “transformational leaders” (Bass, 1985) and their ability to enhance their employees organizational commitment. According to Koslowsky, Schwarzwald, and Ashuri (2001), transformational leaders usually attempt to influence their subordinates using personal (soft) rather than positional (harsh) power tactics. To give you an example, imagine a technical art director (probably French, given the headwear on the picture) asking actors on a movie set to comply to his directives because he is an expert and knows what’s best to make a great scene (soft power tactics), as opposed to a director that would remind the actors that they can be fired if they do not comply (harsh power tactics). In both cases, the task is probably going to get done, however, in the long run, the actors might feel a whole lot different about their organization (and probably their director as well)!

So how do transformational leaders succeed in making their employees inspired and committed to their work? Well, that’s exactly what our latest research attempted to answer! In this piece (you can read the article here), we started with the assumption that employees prefer soft power tactics over harsh ones (Pierro, Kruglanski, & Raven, 2012). One potential reason for this effect is that soft power tactics endow employees with much more autonomy and freedom of choice than harsh power tactics which are more controlling. As a consequence, if employees feel more inclined to comply with soft power tactics, it could be that their interest and commitment for their organization would augment as well.

We conducted two studies in different work settings and the results were very robust: Transformational leaders were more likely to increase employees’ organisational commitment, because employees experienced greater willingness to comply with soft power tactics. It looks like this:

This model highlights one critical aspect of organizational settings, and perhaps of life in general… it’s not always about knowing how to achieve something (e.g., compliance), there’s also the right way to go about saying/doing things (soft power tactics). L’art et la manière!

Press coverage of our latest research findings

I’m very excited, this is my first press coverage!

In this piece, Karla Starr, a journalist for the Atlantic, discusses our latest paper: “Driven by Fear: The Effect of Success and Failure Information on Passionate Individuals’ Performance.

to read her article follow this link: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/09/the-downside-of-following-passion/261972/ or click here The Downside of Following Passion

to read our JPSP paper click here PDF