AuthorFerozi, Seyawash
  1. Introduction

    Because employee performance is essential for organizational outcome, many scholars have identified various factors influencing it (e.g., Hassan and Hatmaker, 2015; Wright, 2007; Frank and Lewis, 2004; Erez, Earley and Hulin, 1985). Leadership has been considered a key factor of employee performance (Moynihan, Pandey and Wright, 2012); therefore, if employee performance is theoretically dependent on leadership, the question arises as to which type of leadership in practice is more effective in influencing employee performance? Recently, studies have concluded that transformational leadership is positively associated with employee performance (e.g., Lowe, Kroeck and Sivasubramaniam, 1996; Dvir et al., 2002; Kark, Shamir and Chen, 2003; Piccolo and Colquitt, 2006; Parrlberg and Lavigna, 2010; Wright and Pandey, 2010).

    Transformational leadership refers to 'the leader moving follower beyond immediate self-interests through idealized influence (charisma), inspiration, intellectual stimulation, or individualized consideration' (Bass, 1999, p. 11). Transformational leaders help to redefine organizational members' mission and vision; renew their organizational commitment; and restructure the organizational system to accomplish goals (Roberts, 1985). Moreover, transformational leaders can use their skills of emotional and social intelligence to change members' behavior (Bass and Avolio, 1994). Because of these characteristics, transformational leadership is considered a crucial organizational factor in improving employee performance; correspondingly, researchers in the field assert that transformational leadership positively impacts on employee performance (e.g., MacKenzi, Podsakoff and Rich, 2001; Dubinsky et al., 1995; Yammarino et al., 1997).

    Even though transformational leadership has been studied cross-culturally and in different contexts and in many countries as a new paradigm for understanding leadership (Jung, Bass and Sosik, 1995; Chin, 2007), there has not been any research conducted within government agencies in Afghanistan to the best of our knowledge. Therefore, the current study tries to find whether transformational leadership is associated with employee performance and which dimensions of leadership are more important to public employees' performance in Afghanistan.

  2. Literature review

    2.1. Transformational leadership

    Transformational leadership was established and explained for the first time in 1978 by James Burns who emphasized intellectual leadership, moral leadership, revolutionary leadership, democratization, and benevolence. He introduced many successful leaders who led transforming organizations, governments, or countries and described what kind of factors made them influential for the transformation (Burns, 1978), concluding that transformational leaders encourage participation; emphasize a sense of collective identity and efficacy; empower subordinates; define public values; promote followers to pursue higher values; and vigorously communicate with followers (Burns, 2003).

    According to Bass (1985), there are three main ways to achieve successful transformation: 1. increasing the level of awareness to the values and significance of intended outcomes and ways to achieve these outcomes; 2. sacrificing one's own self-interests for groups, communities, or nations; 3. elevating our need levels from the security needs to recognition or self-actualization needs on Abraham Maslow's needs hierarchy. Bass et al. (2003, p. 208) provided four components of transformational leadership: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individual consideration and emphasized differences between transformational leadership and transactional leadership; within the latter, organizational members follow the leader to receive rewards and recognition, or to avoid disciplinary actions.

    2.2. Six dimensions of transformational leadership behaviors

    Based on a broad review of literature on transformational leadership, Podsakoff et al. (1990, p. 112) suggested that 'transformational leadership is multidimensional in nature' and proposed six main transformational leadership behaviors.

    The first dimension is 'identifying and articulating a vision': transformational leaders find new opportunities for their employees and organizations and are able to identify and articulate a vision to their followers; they encourage and inspire followers through their vision of the future. The second dimension is 'providing an appropriate model', which is the behavior related to leaders who are setting examples for their employees to follow; these examples are supported by the leader's value. The third dimension is 'fostering the acceptance of group goals', whereby the leader's behavior fosters acceptance of a group's common goals which, in turn, motivates employees to work together as a team; these encouraging behaviors engender strong and effective cooperation among employees to work as a team to achieve a shared goal. The fourth dimension of transformational leadership is 'high performance expectations': this dimension represents the behavior of leaders who expect higher performance from their employees; leaders care about excellence and quality in performing tasks from their employees. The fifth dimension is 'providing individual support', meaning leaders respect and take care of the personal feelings and the needs of their followers; they respect their employees and their feelings. Lastly, the sixth dimension is 'intellectual stimulation': transformational leaders ask followers to re-examine assumptions about what they are doing at work; intellectual stimulation makes employees rethink current issues and take innovative action. Collectively, these six dimensions are used to measure transformational leadership behaviors in this study.

    2.3. Transformational leadership and employee performance

    Since transformational leaders identify and articulate organizational visions; provide an appropriate model; emphasize group goals; expect high performance of their employees; express concern about followers' individual needs and feelings; and intellectually stimulate employees to be innovative, we could expect that employees who work with transformational leaders would perform better (Podsakoff et al., 1990).

    There are numerous studies confirming that transformational leadership is directly or indirectly positively related to employee performance (e.g., Bass and Riggio, 2006; Belle, 2014; Kovjanic, Schuh and Jonas, 2013; Grant, 2012; Walumbwa, Avolio and Zhu, 2008; Walumbwa and Hartnell, 2011). For the direct relationship, Bass et al. (2003) found that transformational leadership in military organizations is positively related to soldiers' performance. Similarly, Thamrin (2012) confirmed that transformational leadership has a positive and significant influence on employee performance in Indonesia. Piccolo and Colquitt (2006) and Tsai, Chen and Cheng (2009) found that transformational leadership is directly related to employee task performance. Caillier (2014) suggested that transformational leadership has a direct influence on employee evaluations. After conducting a meta-analytic research of 25 years of literature on transformational leadership and performance, Wang et al. (2011) concluded that transformational leadership is positively related to followers' general job performance and overall team performance, as well as followers' task-related and creative performance.

    For the indirect relationship, mission valence (Callier, 2014), beneficiary contact, and self-persuasion (Belle, 2014) strengthen the relationship between transformational leaders and employee performance. The quality of the relationship between leaders and followers (Carter et al., 2013); relational identification (Walumbwa and Hartnell, 2011); level of potency and cohesion of units (Bass et al., 2003); interaction of identification and means efficacy (Walumbwa, Avolilo and Zhu, 2008); and competence and relatedness need satisfaction (Kovjanic, Schuh and Jonas, 2013) mediated the relationship between transformational leadership and employee performance.

    Even though many studies have found that there is a direct or indirect impact of transformational leadership on employee performance, it is not easy to find a study that examines how different dimensions of transformational leadership are related to employee performance. Because transformational leadership is essentially multidimensional, as Podsakoff et al. (1990) noted, it is important to understand which dimension is more or less related to employee performance. Therefore, based on the previous literature review and the six dimensions of transformational leadership behavior proposed by Podsakoff et al. (1990), this study constructs the following six hypotheses:

    * H 1.1: Identifying and articulating a vision is associated with employee performance;

    * H 1.2: Providing an appropriate model is related to employee performance;

    * H 1.3: Fostering the acceptance of group goals is associated with employee performance;

    * H 1.4: High performance expectations has a relationship with employee performance;

    * H 1.5: Providing individual support is related to employee performance, and

    * H 1.6: Intellectual stimulation is associated with employee performance.

    2.4. Job security, pay satisfaction, and employee performance

    In addition to the six dimensions of transformational leadership behavior, this study adds two more independent variables that influence employee performance: job security and pay satisfaction.

    2.4.1. Job security and employee performance

    Job security is defined as 'the perceived stability and continuance of one's job as one knows it' (Probst, 2002, p. 146) whereas job insecurity means 'perceived powerlessness to maintain desired continuity in a threatened job situation' (Greenhalgh and Rosenblatt, 1984, p. 438). If employees are unstable in their job status and...

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