To examine whether executives practice leadership differently across
public, private, and nonprofit organizations.
Respondents were 69 executives and managers from the
Hagerstown/Washington County, Maryland area (46% response rate), with about equal
participation from public, private and nonprofit organizations. Interviews with 10
executives supplemented the empirical analysis.
The rank order of leadership practices by this sample was consistent
with published data by Kouzes and Posner (1995). The rank order was very consistent
between the private and public sectors, but not with the nonprofit sector. The latter group
reported more engagement in Encouraging and less in Challenging than the other two
The author summarizes: "The overall statistical analysis agrees with that expressed
in the Leadership Challenge study. There appear to be no significant differences in
leadership traits as practiced across the three organizational types" (p. 63). However, the
author goes on to explain that these results were not entirely consistent with what he
found in his interviews with leaders: "I conclude that the most telling result is that what a
leader verbalizes is important to him/her ma not necessarily be the trait that he/she
perceive themselves to use most frequently" (p. 64).
The author concludes: "I have also found that it is important to recognize the
'context' in which leadership is discussed. Though the research and in discussions with
Kouzes and Posner, I have come to realize that the practice of leadership involves
changes in context, not the actual practice. Leadership practices are portable across all
business and social organizations. It is the context of how these leadership practices are
presented and reinforced to the followers that present the differences. This is the
underlying morale to this research and what I had hoped to understand better through the
model and the analysis of the responses" (p. 76).