OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a
relationship between what a social worker employee expects from a leader, how a
social worker actually perceives leadership behavior, and their job satisfaction.
METHODOLOGY: A stratified random sample of 2500 members of the National
Association of Social Workers (1999) were asked to participate, and 732 returned
usable surveys. The typical respondent was female (78%), in the 40-59 age range
(71%), Caucasian (90%), held an MSW degree (92%) – which mirror national
demographics – with an average of ten years in their field. Respondents
completed the Job Satisfaction Scale (Koeske, Kirk, Koeske & Mauktis, 1994) and
both an expected and actual version of the Leadership Practices Inventory
Observer for their supervisor.
KEY FINDINGS: The expected leadership practices of supervisors were all
significantly higher than their actual leadership practices as perceived by the
respondents. Interestingly enough, the rank order within the two sets were
identical, with Enabling the most frequently desired and observed, followed by
Modeling, Encouraging, Challenging, and Inspiring.
The greater the difference between expected and actual leadership
practices, the more dissatisfied the respondents were with their job. The LPI
accounted for about 32 percent of the variance around job satisfaction, with
Enabling accounting for the largest amount of this explained variance. Age,
gender, type of agency, length of time in job, position, gender of supervisor, and
academic degree were not intervening variables in the relationships between
leadership and job satisfaction.