This study focused on the unique leadership skills and practices of
the individuals in an R&D environment by identifying the leadership practices
used at NASA by project scientists.
This study was conducted at NASA, using the population
of project scientists, of which 59 participated (38% response rate). They, along
with 120 project members (73% response rate), completed the Leadership
Practices Inventory. The typical project scientist was 51 years old, with 12-plus
years of experience in their role.
Internal reliability in this study for the five leadership practices
were: Challenging .84, Inspiring .86, Enabling .78, Modeling .78, and
Encouraging .89. The rank order of both the Self and Observer forms were the
same as that found for the Kouzes and Posner normative sample. LPI-Observer
scores were consistently higher than project scientists’ (LPI-Self) scores for all
five leadership practices, and significantly so for Challenging, Enabling and
Project scientists who reported spending 25 percent or more of their time on
leadership scored significantly higher on Challenging, Inspiring, Modeling and
Encouraging than did those project scientists who reported spending less time on
leadership activities. Project scientists who reported spending 25 percent or more
of their time on science had a significantly higher score on Challenging than did
their counterparts. There were no statistically significant differences reported in
the categories of public outreach/education or administration for the leadership
practices. No significant relationship was found between the leadership practices
and the project scientists’ age or number of years of experience. “When
leadership effectiveness ratings were low, leadership practice scores were also
low” (p. 95).
Project scientists who were rated as very effective and extremely effective,
versus somewhat effective, had significantly higher scores on all five leadership
practices. ANOVA results indicated that leadership effectiveness rating was
related to project scientist and project member scores for all five leadership
practices. This was also true for the reported time spent on the leadership category
of job responsibility for Challenging, Inspiring, Modeling and Encouraging.
“The findings of the current study lend support to the conclusion that the
leadership practices identified by Kouzes and Posner (1996) are universal. The
current study contributes by demonstrating that the leadership practices identified
by Kouzes and Posner (1996) may be related to the leadership effectiveness of
project scientists” (p. 96).