Excellent Managers: Exploring the Acquisition, Measurement, and Impact of Leader Skills in an Australian Business Context

Muldoon, Shane Douglas (2003) Excellent Managers: Exploring the Acquisition, Measurement, and Impact of Leader Skills in an Australian Business Context. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis explores the acquisition, measurement, and impact of leader skills in relation to business managers' performance in an Australian context. The central problem explored in this thesis is whether effective managers are the same as successful managers, and the role of leader skills in that respect. Studies of managers commonly equate effectiveness with success. However, Luthans, Hodgetts and Rosenkrantz (1988) have shown that effectiveness and success are not identical concepts. In this thesis, research results are classified into four categories. Managers recognised as achieving both individual success and leader effectiveness are classified as excellent. Those who are comparatively high in individual success but low in leader effectiveness are classified as career managers. Highly effective managers with low individual success are classified as achievement managers. Finally, those low in individual success and low in leader effectiveness are classified as student managers. This classification framework is named the Manager Quad. It is presented in Figure 3.1. The quadrant categories are based on the results of a quantitative survey of 185 work unit members and 43 managers drawn from 49 work units employed in 17 companies. These results are reported in Chapter Five. Qualitative data derived from 16 interviews of managers are also analysed and reported in Chapters Six and Seven. The theoretical framework for this thesis, resulting in the four categories, involves a Reality Management Theory of individualised leadership developed within a Symbolic Interactionist paradigm. This theory is summarised in Section 3.4. It is theorised that outcomes like effectiveness and success depend upon leader skills accrued from life-long learning processes. It is proposed that excellent managers' behaviours form a highly proficient, integrated set of leader skills within what is described in this thesis as the Leader Action Characteristics Set (LACS). This thesis presents a leader skill instrument referred to as the Leader Interaction Skills Inventory (LISI). The instrument demonstrates parsimony, reliability, and validity in an Australian business context. Statistical analysis of data shows leader skill proficiencies are related to managers' leader effectiveness, individual success, and work unit performance. Additionally, qualitative analyses indicate four Differential, Interpreted Life Patterns (DILPs), which provide important conceptual extension of the quad. DILPs are shown to distinguish managers' abilities to define situations that produce desirable business results. In this thesis it is argued that leader skills are relative rather than absolute. The data analysis classifies a number of respondents as excellent managers, indicating that Australia has a reasonable number of business managers with highly proficient leader skills, and shows many other Australian managers possess very sound, though incomplete sets of leader skills.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/261
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 350000 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Hospitality Tourism and Marketing
Keywords managers; leader skills; Australia; business; managers' performance
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