Drew R. Suss, School of Human and Organizational Development
Effective leadership is essential for life sciences (LS) organizations developing successful treatments for diseases and reliable sources of food. As the world population grows and ages, the importance of their success increases. Sustainability demands that complex organizations be populated with effective decision makers, but data shows organizational life spans are relatively brief (Agarwal & Gort, 2002). This suggests effective decision making is uncommon.
The literature review explored the concept of leadership effectiveness, analyzed the complex systems framework of the adaptive-learning management system (ALMS) (Ackoff, 1999a) and the servant leadership (SL) model (Greenleaf, 1977). The analysis found ALMS, and SL theoretically aligned. This suggests SL may encourage effective workplace decisions (EWD) and may therefore be the preferred model for complex organizations as Bass (2000) suggested. The hypothesis tested was: In LS organizations there is a statistically significant correlation between the workers’ perceptions of servant leadership enacted by LS leaders, and followers’ perceptions that they are empowered to make effective workplace decisions.
A mixed-method approach measured SL and EWD behaviors quantitatively. Two instruments were used: The 30-item SLS survey, developed and validated by van Dierendonck and Nuitjen (2011), and the 8-item EWD instrument validated in a pilot study. The SLS has 8 subscales which enabled multiple factor analyses. Qualitative data were gathered to enable triangulation. The total sample (n= 77) produced a positive correlation: r =.48, r2 = .22 (p<.0001). Sample participants focused on commercialization (n=43) had a positive correlation: r = 0.37, (p 0.0313). Science-focused participants (n=34) generated a stronger positive correlation: r = 0.59, r2 =.35 (p<.001) with two SLS factors demonstrating significant variance values: Courage and empowerment measured r2 =.33 and r2 =.39 respectively (p <.0001). Qualitative data supported H1.
This empirical study produced significant empirical support for H1. It is the first to show the correlation of servant leadership (Greenleaf, 1970 ) and Ackoff’s (1999a) systems-focused management theory. This lends credence to suggestion that SL is beneficial to organizational sustainability (Bass, 2000; Greenleaf, 1970; Senge, 1990). It provides evidence that leaders who practice SL enable people to grow in their capacity to be effective (Ackoff, 1999a, 1999b).
KEY WORDS: EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP, ADAPTIVE LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM, COMPLEX ADAPTIVE SYSTEM LEADERSHIP, TRANSFORMATIONAL SYSTEMS LEADERSHIP, SERVANT LEADERSHIP, EFFECTIVE DECISION MAKING, LIFE SCIENCES ORGANIZATIONS.