Leadership Effectiveness and the Adaption-Innovation Cognitive Style.

– Salvatore Capobianco & Lynne E. Sutherland-Green

We undertook a study to determine perceived leadership effectiveness as a function of high adaptive and high innovative preference. Effectiveness was measured using the Management Skills Profile (MSP), a 122 item multi-rater instrument designed to assess skills across 19 managerial dimensions (Personnel Decision, Inc., 1984). A total of 947 superiors, peers and subordinates rated 147 mid-to upper-level managers on the MSP. The sample was selected from participants who completed a leadership program at Eckerd College . Mostly white males with an average age of 42 years, 17 years of education. The sample was divided into two groups with KAI scores 1.5 standard deviations from the program mean of 104 (SD=16). The more Adaptive (n=78) had scores of 80 and below and the higher Innovators (n=69) had scores of 128 and above. This grouping was used to maximise behavioural differences between the groups.

Ratings of MSP effectiveness were determined by averaging the responses of superiors, subordinates and peers. The average ratings for the more Adaptive and more Innovative groups were then compared using T-tests for independent means (p<.05). High innovators were rated significantly higher on the leadership style and influence, coaching and developing, personal motivation, and oral communications scales. High adaptors were rated significantly higher on the dimensions of human relations, informing, listening, written communications, problem analysis, personal organisation and time management. Interestingly, no significant differences were found between the adaptive and innovative groups on the results orientation scale, which is a summary of overall leadership effectiveness. These results suggest that innovators are perceived as using a high energy, dynamic, outfront, persuasive style of leadership. Adaptors’ leadership style is focused on more harmonious interpersonal relations, efficiency, stability and continuity. Although Adaptive-Innovative cognitive preferences lead to very different leadership styles, both are perceived as equally effective. This suggests that the nature and climate of the organisation may contribute to maximising the differential effectiveness of each respective leadership style. Originally published in KAI News 1993 Editor’s Note: KAI users see also manual, Part IV, Style & Level, Table 37 .