Leadership attracts significant attention from researchers in a variety of fields. Researchers have developed a variety of theories to explain the nature and practice of leadership. Of course, no one theory exists in a vacuum. Each theory draws on the work of previous researchers. Moreover, researchers routinely revise older theories based on research completed after the initial theories were developed. For instance, research on charismatic and transformational leadership draws on earlier research on trait theory. In addition, trait theorists develop new theories that address the role of situation in leadership. These new theories are a direct result of the subsequent development of situational theory. As a possible contributor to the field of leadership research, you should have an understanding of and appreciation for the breadth and depth of leadership research and the relationships among the various theories.To prepare for this Assignment, review this week’s Learning Resources and select four leadership theories. Search the Walden Library for additional peer-reviewed, scholarly resources about your selected leadership theories. You should use both the articles in the Learning Resources and additional scholarly resources in your evaluation.Submit an evaluation of at least four leadership theories in the form of a properly formatted, APA-compliant taxonomy table. For each of the theories you select, you should include the following:The name of the theoryThe year the theory was introducedThe theorist/authorKey components of the theoryFor each theory presented, be sure to include a minimum of two references to peer-reviewed, scholarly resources, as well as appropriate in-text citations.You can use other scholarly resources as well

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Leadership for
Quality and Innovation:
Challenges, Theories, and a
Framework for Future Research
© 2014, ASQ
This perspective paper discusses current issues facing
leaders, what researchers and practitioners know
about leadership theory and practice, and what they
need to know to improve leadership in the future.
A key issue in leadership research is that there has
been no convergence toward a reasonable number
of cogent leadership theories. The current knowledge
about leadership consists of narrow definitions of
leader effectiveness that are disconnected from their
context, so the application to practice is difficult. More
research is needed that develops leadership frameworks and models that integrate transformational,
servant, and spiritual leadership theories and include
the context and a definition of success based on creating value for multiple stakeholders. A framework
for future leadership research is proposed along with
a “call to action.”
Key words: ambidextrous organization, diversity,
innovation, leadership failures, leadership theories,
quality, servant leadership, spiritual leadership,
stakeholders, sustainability, transactional leadership,
transformational leadership
Leadership continues to be a popular topic for quality
professionals, organizational leaders, researchers, consultants, and a variety of commentators. Unfortunately,
there are numerous examples of leadership failures,
ranging from ethical disasters to the workers who
hate their boss and their job. Both reduce individual
engagement and reduce organizational performance.
However, after years of practicing and researching leadership, there is still no reasonable number of cogent
and coherent theories for leaders to follow that will
predict success. To make matters worse, the task of
leadership at all organizational levels seems to be
getting more and more difficult. Perhaps too much
credit for organizational success and failure is given
to leaders, but there is consensus among scholars and
practitioners that it is important and it does make
a difference. W. Edwards Deming understood the
importance of leaders using their influence to improve
quality by attending training sessions on quality principles and practices. Deming even walked out when some
executives refused to attend their company’s training.
The number and type of stakeholders exerting pressure
on organizations has increased from a narrow focus on
investors and customers and now includes stakeholders
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Leadership for Quality and Innovation: Challenges, Theories, and a Framework for Future Research
such as employees, suppliers, and partners, along with
the community and the natural environment. Similar
to the quality crisis of the 1980s, many leaders today
have proposed that creating value for multiple stakeholders requires trade-offs between the stakeholders in
a “zero sum game.” Alternatively, creating value for
the multiple stakeholders could be done with innovation and imagination by reinventing the methods
and systems so they produce more value for all stakeholders. The good news is there are many “proof of
concept” examples such as those described in Esty
and Winston (2009) and ASQ’s Socially Responsible
Organization initiative.
Modern organizations must be ambidextrous (i.e.,
able to execute and innovate) in order to be successful because of the multiple environmental pressures
they face and because they must organize a diverse
workforce to do this work. Organizations that are only
good at one or the other will not survive, let alone
thrive, in the coming decades. Those that are only
good at execution will end up making reliable products
that few will buy. Organizations that are only good at
innovation and strategy will experience “boom bust”
cycles, with many early sales only to experience a steep
decline when they cannot deliver on their promises.
Unfortunately, some quality departments are perceived
as having their foot on the brake when the innovative
marketing department puts its foot on the gas. The
good news is, some organizations have demonstrated
that it is possible to run the business and change the
business simultaneously, by weaving these two concepts throughout the organization’s strategies, systems,
scorecards, and incentives (see Clarke American 2001,
30). To succeed now and in the future, leaders will
have to design organizations with the ability to do both
with an increasingly diverse workforce operating in a
complex global environment.
Leading these boundaryless organizations requires
individuals who recognize that people and communities are not just a means to an organizational outcome,
but are also an end in, and of, themselves. There is no
shortage of advice on how to lead, but unfortunately
the validity of this advice varies widely and it is not
clear how much of this advice might best be applied
to address the current issues given the numerous
12 QMJ VOL. 21, NO. 1/© 2014, ASQ
compounding variables. The modern workforce continues to increase in diversity (on many dimensions),
complicating the leadership task in an increasingly
global environment. Organizations and their complex
global supply chains comprise groups from around the
world creating and delivering products to diverse and
global customer segments while operating in a wide
variety of situations, governing rules, cultures, political
policies, and so forth. In addition, these human-created
complex systems are increasingly unstable and thus
unpredictable, raising risk and anxiety among leaders
everywhere. So where does one go from here?
While there is no shortage of concepts comprising the
many leadership theories, there is little consensus on
what constitutes effective leadership (Gordon and Yukl
2004). The current leadership body of knowledge is a
fragmented and “messy landscape” comprising inputs
from a variety of contributors including academics,
practitioners, and consultants, with numerous selfproclaimed experts and commentators thrown in for
good measure. Academics propose competing leadership theories and research, and continue to research
only their favorite theory, without integrating the findings of these different theories. On the other end of the
spectrum, there are thousands of books on leadership
and even more articles and blog posts. Unfortunately,
some of the advice is nonsense made up to “fill” blog
posts so the authors can increase their authority on
the topic in the eyes of their online followers. Typically,
theories eventually go through a convergent phase
where the models, constructs, and relationships are
tested, eliminated, refined, and so forth in a process of
narrowing down the number of competing theories.
However, once created, leadership theories are seldom
discarded (Glynn and Raffaelli 2010). This “academic
amnesia” (Sayles and Stewart 1995) has resulted in a
situation where, according to Hunt and Dodge (2000),
one can leave the field of leadership research for an
extended period of time and return to find that it is
as if he or she had never left. In addition, none of the
Leadership for Quality and Innovation: Challenges, Theories, and a Framework for Future Research
current theories seem to be a complete answer to the
leadership challenges of the 21st century.
Possibly the most researched leadership theories
over the past 30 years have been the complementary
transformational and transactional leadership theories
(e.g., Bass 1999). The positive effects of both of these
theories on quality improvement and firm performance were confirmed by Laohavichien, Fredendall,
and Cantrell (2009). However, while transformational
leadership has been widely successful, it appears to
be incomplete for the challenges facing current leaders and does not prevent abuses of power and allows
for the ends to justify the means. Servant leadership
has emerged as an alternative, and much of the work
to synthesize the competing servant leadership concepts and validate this theory has been accomplished
over the past decade by van Dierendonck (2011) and
van Dierendonck and Nuijten (2011). In addition, a
related research thread is the recent interest in spiritual
aspects of leadership to better understand the internal
dimensions of leaders and followers (Fry and Kriger
2009). There is quite a bit of overlap among these
theories (and others), yet they continue to be treated by
researchers as separate and distinct.
Is it possible that the quest of the last 50-plus years
to find the universal definition of effective leadership has been misguided and unattainable? The
inability for researchers to converge on a universal
answer may be an indication that there is not a universal answer to leadership. Part of the problem is
researchers may have the ontological and epistemological assumptions wrong. In order to find and test
a universal answer, the phenomenon needs to be one
that operates free of context and includes measurable variables and predictable relationships. However,
organizations are human-created constructs occupied
by humans who appear to have free will and thus do
not always obey the immutable natural laws of science. Humans also seem to come in a wide variety of
personalities, capabilities, motivations, and so forth,
and when combined into groups, the permutations
appear infinite. Yet, 88 percent of leadership studies in
the past have been quantitative (Glynn and Raffaelli
2010). In one’s desire to be credible to other physical
(read “real”) scientists, many social science problems
including leadership have been investigated using
positivist and post-positivist methods with quantitative
measurement and probability samples to ensure generalizability. For more on the evolution of research
traditions in American business schools, see Khurana
(2007). Unfortunately, going through the motions
of “good” science has not resulted in knowledge that
is widely generalizable. Good qualitative and mixed
methods research is difficult to do well. There is an
inherent risk of drawing conclusions from investigations into social phenomena that are simply wrong
(Feynman 1974). Maybe what is needed is a “consilience” of knowledge in the leadership field that
combines multiple sources of evidence into a more
comprehensive and deeper understanding of the leadership phenomenon (see Wilson 1999).
Also needed is a common and comprehensive
definition of success in order to assess leadership effectiveness. All too often people evaluate and “hold up”
leaders as highly successful examples based on a single
measure of success such as economic profit. When
they peel back the “veil” they often find that the leader
created the economic success at the expense of one or
more other stakeholders such as the workforce, suppliers and partners, society, or the environment. This is
problematic for both practitioners seeking to emulate
successful leaders and researchers attempting to evaluate the existing leadership theories. It does not take
great leadership to reallocate resources and value from
one stakeholder group to another. What is needed is
a more comprehensive understanding of how the key
aspects of leadership (the individual, behaviors, and
activities) can create the environment for the systems
thinking and design thinking required to create value
for multiple stakeholders (see Figure 1).
Finally, through a process of synthesis, elimination, and refinement, researchers need to converge on a
smaller set of theories that explains effective leadership.
The good news is there appears to be a high degree of
www.asq.org 13
Leadership for Quality and Innovation: Challenges, Theories, and a Framework for Future Research
Figure 1 Framework for future leadership research
The style
culture +
The interal perspective
(not visible)
The environment
(quality + innovation)
Value for
The outcomes
The system
The context
(internal + external factors)
overlap between some leadership theories, providing
opportunities for synthesis. For example, many aspects
of transformational, servant, and spiritual leadership
theories were identified as consistent with the components of the framework for leading the transformation
to performance excellence, including the individual
leader characteristics, leadership behaviors and activities,
and organizational culture (Latham 2013a; 2013b). In
addition, there needs to be more research and analysis
on how the existing theories are influenced by context;
what works, what doesn’t work, and under what conditions. For example, recent findings by Zimmerer (2013)
indicate that servant leadership is considered to be an
effective leadership style by the multiple generations in
organizations today, thus relieving leaders of the need
to adjust their style for each generation of followers.
Finally, future research and analysis needs to include a
comprehensive definition of success, such as the results
category of the Baldrige Award Criteria for Performance
Excellence, and avoid adopting leadership theories that
result in value for only a few stakeholders.
Only the brave need apply! One might begin by working
on a meta-analysis of the existing leadership theories,
beginning with the four leadership theories that were
identified in Latham (2013a; 2013b) as closely linked
14 QMJ VOL. 21, NO. 1/© 2014, ASQ
to performance excellence. The main limitations of
transformational and transactional leadership theories
could be, at least partially, remedied by integrating key
constructs and concepts from values-based leadership
theories such as servant leadership and spiritual leadership. Once this initial step, along with the integration
of key concepts from other relevant leadership theories,
is complete, researchers can begin conducting research
studies that are comprehensive and address the key
aspects depicted in the framework for future leadership
research (see Figure 1). This “call to action” is for leadership scholars and scholar-practitioners to rise to the
challenge, collaborate with practitioners, and conduct
grand (comprehensive) research studies that include
both the actual contexts, along with a comprehensive
definition of success from a multistakeholder perspective
in order to synthesize what works and eliminate what
does not work from the existing field of leadership theory.
In short, there need to be theories that explain how
leaders can create value for multiple stakeholders, and
researchers need to have the courage to throw out the
theories that do not. This will require a departure from
the established narrow, typically quantitative, approaches
to leadership research and theory. Those who take up this
challenge may want to study Emerson’s 1837 address
to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge titled “The
American Scholar” and take to heart his notion, “free
should the scholar be, free and brave.”
Leadership for Quality and Innovation: Challenges, Theories, and a Framework for Future Research
Bass, B. M. 1999. Two decades of research and development
in transformational leadership. European Journal of Work &
Organizational Psychology 8, no. 1:24.
Clarke American. 2001. Clarke American Checks, Inc. MBNQA
application summary.
Emerson, R. W. 1837. The American scholar. In The Complete
Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, centenary edition, ed. E. W.
Emerson, 8115. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Esty, D. C., and A. S. Winston. 2009. Green to gold: How smart
companies use environmental strategy to innovate, create value,
and build competitive advantage. Hoboken: John Wiley and
Feynman, R. P. 1974. Cargo cult science. Engineering and
Science 4.
Fry, L., and M. Kriger. 2009. Towards a theory of being-centered
leadership: Multiple levels of being as context for effective leadership. Human Relations 62, no. 11:30.
Glynn, M. A., and R. Raffaelli. 2010. Uncovering mechanisms of
theory development in academic field: Lessons from leadership
research. The Academy of Management Annals 4, no. 1:43.
Gordon, A., and G. Yukl. 2004. The future of leadership
research: Challenges and opportunities. German Journal of
Human Resource Research 18, no. 3:8.
Hunt, J. G. J., and G. E. Dodge. 2000. Leadership deja vu all
over again. Leadership Quarterly 11, no. 4:24.
Khurana, R. 2007. From higher aims to hired hands: The social
transformation of American business schools and the unfulfilled
promise of management as a profession. Princeton: Princeton
University Press.
Laohavichien, T., L. D. Fredendall, and R. S. Cantrell. 2009. The
effects of transformational and transactional leadership on quality
improvement. Quality Management Journal 16, no. 2:18.
Latham, J. R. 2013a. A framework for leading the transformation to performance excellence part I: CEO perspectives on
forces, facilitators, and strategic leadership systems. Quality
Management Journal 20, no. 2:22.
Latham, J. R. 2013b. A framework for leading the transformation to performance excellence part II: CEO perspectives on
leadership behaviors, individual leader characteristics, and organizational culture. Quality Management Journal 20, no. 3:22.
Sayles, L. R., and A. Stewart. 1995. Belated recognition for workflow entrepreneurs: A case of selective perception and amnesia in
management thought. Entrepreneurship, Theory and Practice 19,
no. 3:7-24.
van Dierendonck, D. 2011. Servant leadership: A review and
synthesis. Journal of Management 37, no. 4:1228-1261.
van Dierendonck, D., and I. Nuijten. 2011. The servant leadership survey: Development and validation of a multidimensional
measure. Journal of Business and Psychology 26, no. 3:249-267.
Wilson, E. O. 1999. Consilience: The unity of knowledge. New
York: Vintage Books.
Zimmerer, T. E. 2013. Generational perceptions of servant leadership: A mixed methods study. Ph.D. diss., Capella University.
John Latham is director of the Monfort Institute at the University
of Northern Colorado. As a leadership scholar-practitioner he
has more than 30 years of combined experience as a leader,
leadership consultant, and leadership researcher. He has
worked on a wide variety of leadership issues and topics, from
researching leading organization transformation from the CEO
perspective, to an international consultant to senior executives
on leading change and organization design, to vice president of
corporate quality and business excellence for a $1.3 billion manufacturing company with operations in 40 countries. He served
nine years on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
board of examiners and as a judge for the Colorado Performance
Excellence, VA Carey, and Army Communities of Excellence
awards. He earned a doctorate from Walden University in
1997 and an MBA from Chapman University in 1992. He has
published leadership and organization design articles in Quality
Management Journal, INNOVATION, Quality Progress, and others. He received the 2013 Gryna Award for his 2012 paper on
management system design. He is a Senior member of ASQ, a
Certified Quality Engineer (CQE), and a past section chair. He
can be reached by email at john@johnlatham.me or through his
website at www.johnlatham.me.
www.asq.org 15

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