Super Leadership Is A New Form Of Leadership Education Essay

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Super Leadership is a new form of leadership for the era of knowledge-based enterprises distinguished by flat organizational structures and employee empowerment. A super-leader is one who leads others to lead themselves through designing and implementing the system that allows and teaches employees to be self-leaders.

Super-leaders help each of their followers to develop into an effective self-leader by providing them with the behavioral and cognitive skills necessary to exercise self-leadership. "Super-leaders establish values, model, encourage, reward, and in many other ways foster self-leadership in individuals, teams, and wider organizational cultures.

The purpose of this paper is to develop and test a model of super leadership and creativity. This paper will practically contribute to the literature on super leadership and creativity by examining the relationships between them.

This study is in continuation to the study conducted by DiLiello and Houghton (2006) in which a model was suggested that the employees having strong super leadership qualities will have more creative and innovative potential. Moreover, they will also practice a high level of innovation and creativity, when they feel a strong support from their supporting workplace.

In a broader perspective, super-leadership is an effective mean of developing a shared and pervasive environment that support idea generation and creative problem solving. Succinctly, it is believed that an organization that encourages super leadership is likely to experience higher levels of creative and innovative processes among its employees which can flourish useful ideas and ultimately enhance organizational effectiveness.

Significance and Rationale of the Study

The question arises that why super leadership phenomenon is important? The answer is that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. Employee self-leadership is the key to success in the new economy. So, having super-leadership, followers are treated in a proper way and thus turn into super leaders.

If super leaders are successful in providing strategic alignment and coaching people, they develop followers who are productive, work independently, and need only minimal attention from the super leader.

The rationale of this paper is to test and present results based upon a hypothesized model about the relationships between Super-leadership and idea generation/creative potential. In short, our model will test the hypothesis as if strong Super-leaders are more likely to have higher levels of idea generation/creativity potential than weak Super-leaders are.

Such a model may be of great benefit to organizations that are looking forward to change due to market dynamism through the creativity and innovation of human resources of Super-leaders. As argued by Neck and Manz (1996), pragmatic Super-leadership research studies advocates that employees having Super-leadership line of action, enhances their individual performance and, at large, organizational performance, than an employee who does not practice Super-leadership approaches. In current era of rapid globalization, Super-leadership strategies enhance organizational capacity to flourish in the face of the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Research Objectives

The bulk of the literature on management and leadership tends to focus primarily on the dynamics of the common organization. This study will be a welcome addition to the abundant literature on Leadership Studies in organizational settings. At some level, one of the minor intentions of this study is to trigger an impetus that will prompt other academics and scholars to take on the topic of leadership and management at a wider range and with more comprehensive objectives. The main focus would be to explore the link between super leadership behavior and creative potential through idea generation for a innovative and creative culture within organization.

Research Questions

The research questions in this case are presented as follows:

What is the relationship between super leadership and creativity potential?

How super leadership provoke an employee to perform at its best level?


Why to shift from traditional leadership to Super-Leadership?

Super-leadership, sometimes also called as "Self-Leadership", may be defined as "the way to lead others is by leading oneself" (Manz and Sims, 2001). The main difference between traditional leadership management concept and Super-Leadership is the main focus on followers rather than leader itself, and especially the belief of improving follower's capacity to lead who are effective self-leaders. Therefore, concisely, super-leadership is the way of leading others to lead themselves.

As argued by Sims & Manz (1996), for super leadership behavior to be implemented, a leader has to adopt 10 most significant shifts from traditional approach of leadership in order to move towards super leadership approach.

First thing first, the leader helps out the team members/group to switch from external observation to self-observation.

Secondly, the focus is on moving from designated goals to goals that are self developed.

Thirdly, organic control is exercised by team/group members' i.e. external reinforcement for task performance changes in to internal reinforcement with an addition of external reinforcement for self-leadership behaviors.

Fourthly, leadership prefer to motivation techniques not only based on external compensation but also based on the natural rewards associated with work.

Another step is that the leader shifts the group to focus on self criticism rather than external criticism from the organization, which often creates bad impact upon team/group members.

Sixthly, there is a move from external problem solving towards self-problem solving techniques.

Seventhly, there is a shift from external job assignments to self-job assignments.

Also, leadership moves from external planning to self planning and from external task design to self-design of tasks at step eight.

Ninth step focuses that any problem or issue arises should be treated as an opportunity instead of threat by the group/team members.

Finally, commitment to organization's vision rather than its compliance only is more important that leadership needs to help the employee to create.

Having focused to improve employee's effectiveness, self-leadership phenomenon attempts to concentrate on various issues that an organization might come across in this era of rapid globalization.

Supervisors and work conditions can have some sort of control mechanism in a work place (Manz and Sims, 1980) but the inner drive that initiate organic control, or intrinsic motivation to work, take place from within the person (Herzberg et al., 2003; Manz and Sims, 1980; Sergiovanni, 1992).

It is always stressed that true leadership comes from within and at the end, achievement streams from follower self-leadership (Sims & Manz, 1996).

It is asserted that one can lead in a better way if able to develop and use individuals' skills and capabilities at workplace (Manz and Sims, 1980). As advocated by Manz (1986) and Manz and Neck (2004) as organizational members are trained and permitted to utilize self-leadership strategies, a candid control mechanism is put in action.

Finally, the Super-Leader must develop an environment where employees are free to fail and improve after taking risky decisions and can learn in a true sense. However, risk must be calculated enough and apposite autonomy to fail is of vital importance. We can say that the Super-Leader should promote learning, if the mistake took place in team/group members. Yet again, the Super-Leader must exercise a balance approach in terms of risk taking behaviors i.e. to become aware when one can let mistakes occur or otherwise (Sims & Manz, 1996).

Intrinsic Motivation

The key to stimulate creativity in organization is to foster individual's creativity, for which the easiest human element is to alter an individual's motivation. Majority of empirical research findings in line with this statement are reported from the field of social psychology of creativity and are referred to in the literature as the intrinsic motivation principle.

According to Amabile (1988), an intrinsic motivation of individuals towards a task/job has two sides. First, the person's natural preference towards such type of activities. Secondly, the way individual perceive and know the reasons to undertake that task, which is dependent upon external social as well as environmental factors. This second element is the simplest way to affect creativity of an individual and by using motivation i.e. intrinsic one, is one of the easiest approaches to do so as motivation needs less amount of time/money to boost up a creative individual.

Moreover, the task or assignments that more complex and challenging with a freedom to decide on how to carry out assigned tasks are expected to foster intrinsic motivation that, sequentially, increases creativity (Amabile, 1988).

Amabile (1996, 1997) comments that intrinsic motivation is one of the 'perspiration' phases of the creative process that individuals may seek to bypass, moving too quickly to the more intrinsically motivating idea generation phase.

On the other hand, rigid adherence to rules and regulation has a tendency to negatively affect creativity. For case in point, Amabile (1998) pointed out that rigid rules and centralized decision making reduces creativity as intrinsic motivation to do task reduces creativity. Due to centralized decision-making and rigid control, information flow within organization reduces as well. As creativity needs free access to information, this will, in turn, reduce the generation of new ideas.

Similarly, in another study by Amabile (1997), intrinsic motivation arises when the task itself is a source of interest, enjoyment, self-expression, and personal challenge.

Likewise, Ryan & Deci (2000) pointed out that intrinsic motivation is a result of internal reinforcement to perform a task rather than in response to external reinforcement.

A prior research foundation shows that formal organizational controls restrict individual freedom and thereby dampen intrinsic motivation required for creativity (Amabile, 1996; Shalley, Gilson, & Blum, 2000).

George and Zhou (2001) established in empirical terms that those individuals who demonstrate meticulous behavior at workplace and are particularly unremitting attitude towards workplace compulsions display low levels of creativity.

In addition, intrinsic motivation is more indomitable on interesting tasks and less importunate on uninteresting tasks that require discipline and concerted effort (Gagne and Deci, 2005).

Besides, creativity is improved by positive affect (Davis, 2009; Grawitch & Munz, 2005) as a positive affect promote 'a forward move' rather than evasion (Carver, 2001; Erez & Isen, 2002), which ultimately improve individual's perception to perceive a task as an opportunity rather than a threat (Higgins, 1997) and to deal with issues rather than retreat (Amabile et al., 2005; Frederickson, 2001; Seo, Barrett, & Bartunek, 2004).

Much of the literature cited above created a foundation that intrinsic motivation is a basic ingredient for creativity, and that intrinsic motivation is hampered if the formal and rigid control in organization is simultaneously implemented.

Self Efficacy

According to Bandura (1998), perceived self-efficacy is defined as a firm belief about one's capability to give desired performance that ultimately affects their lives. Self-efficacy beliefs reveal that what people feel, think and how they can be motivated.

A super leadership strategy augments to improve self-efficacy perceptions and refine regulation processes, having significant impact on individual task performance (Houghton & Neck, 2006).

According to Konradt, Andreßen and Ellwart (2009), self-leadership impact on individual performance was partially mediated by self-efficacy perception, while autonomy characteristics showed no significant effects.

Neubert and Wu (2006) showed a strong positive effect on creativity and work role performance.

Carmela, Métier, and Weisberg, (2006) and DiLiello and Houghton (2006) have found that self-leadership is a strong predictor of innovation as perceived by coworkers and managers.

DeRue and Morgeson (2007) posited that individuals with general self-efficacy attribute success to ability and failure to insufficient effort.

Chen, Gully, and Eden (2004) indicated that general self-efficacy is a motivational belief or judgment about personal capabilities that influences personal action in a wide variety of situations.

Self-efficacy beliefs develop over time and through experiences (Maddux, 2002). Self-efficacy refers to beliefs about personal capability to produce a desired effect by individual action (Bandura, 1997). Self-efficacy helps explain the behaviors people will engage, how long they will persist, and how much effort they will expend to reach their goals (Satterfield & Davidson, 2000). People with high self-efficacy may be more likely to overcome difficulties through self-initiated change, more likely to be goal-directed and more persistent in the achievement of that goal (Maddux, 2002).

Self Determination

Individuals will be intrinsically motivated if the task increases their feelings of competency and self-determination (Deci 1975).

Self-determination means having the freedom to be in charge of your own life, choosing where you live, who you spend time with, and what you do. It means having the resources you need to create a good life and to make responsible decisions. It also means choosing where, when, and how you get help for any problems you might have (Cook, Petersen, & Jonikas, 2004).

As far as self determination of employee is concerned, behavior focused strategies are about enhancing one's self perception of personal performance during task resolution, in order to adjust self behavior towards task achievement. Through self observation, self setting of goals and objectives; self reward administration; self punishment and self cueing; it maximizes behavior effectiveness and helps reducing negative issues related with the task (Houghton & Neck, 2002; Manz & Neck, 2004; Neck & Houghton, 2006).

Self Regulation

Self-regulation refers to 'thoughts, feelings and actions that are planned and adapted to the attainment of personal goals' (Zimmerman, 2000).

As described by Schunk and Ertmer (2000), Self-regulated learning includes:

Setting goals for learning

Concentrating on instruction

Using effective strategies to organize ideas

Using resources effectively

Monitoring performance

Managing time effectively

Holding positive beliefs about one's capabilities.

Self-regulation can be improved through appropriate guidance, modeling of effective strategies and creating supportive and challenging contexts (Boekaerts and Corno, 2005; Perry and Vandekamp, 2000). Many of these strategies develop from early childhood well into adolescence (Boekaerts, 2006).

Self regulation is a complex notion. It allows us to consider the interrelationships between key concepts such as self-efficacy and motivation within a single framework, rather than exploring these areas in isolation.

Even though several theories suggest that employees draw from a broad repertoire of behavioral strategies to enhance their creative performance (e.g., Ford, 1996; Frese, 2000; Rank et al., 2004), there are only a handful of studies that have empirically investigated how employees' behavioral strategies facilitate creative performance.

In a study, Binnewies, Ohly, & Sonnentag (2007) found that employees, who engage in effective communication, perform more creatively.

Similarly, there is cumulating evidence that employees use proactive strategies such as feedback-seeking behavior and voice behavior to enhance their creative performance and/or make suggestions for change (e.g., De Stobbeleir, Ashford, & Buyens, 2008; Van Dyne & Le Pine, 1998).

Such findings highlight the self-regulatory potential of employees in the creative process. We expect different proactive strategies to be crucial in the different phases of the creative process. For example, it may be that factors such as communication and feedback-seeking behavior are critical for idea generation, as feedback from other people with relevant knowledge and experience might help to improve and refine the initial idea the creative person came up with. Similarly, one could expect that proactively targeting people in the organization will be related to successful idea promotion. Existing contacts with people from top management might be used to speed up the process of acquiring resources and spreading the word in the organization might help to acquire the political power needed.

Idea Generation and Creative Potential

Idea generation to be one coherent phase of the creative process (Kanter, 1988; West & Farr, 1989).

Zhou (2008) substantiated the interpersonal character of idea generation as highlighted in recent literature on creativity. Furthermore, the creation of ideas instigates the interaction between the individual and its social environment.

For idea generation, the broader (organizational) context needs to stimulate interpersonal contacts as much as possible. An open, helpful, somewhat informal culture, in which people can easily call on others, facilitates formal and informal social connections and idea generation.

Creative Culture

Everybody has a role to play as citizens and consumers, culture and creativity, at the same time, help deliver new, more sustainable ways of living and working.

Creative people can assist in exploring and presenting a different world, if and only if, their skills and expertises are properly exploited and recognized as one of the major means of transformation.

In today's era of rapid globalization characterized by enormous economic, social and environmental challenges, the development of a genuinely creative culture should play a part to deal with such type of challenges. So, it can rightly be said that the culture that we create, will determine our fate.

As matter of fact, organizational culture has been acknowledged as an important precursor of creativity. A creative organizational culture necessitates to focus on quality, communication, work groups, cross-departmental collaboration and visible support for change and innovation (Kanter, 1988; Pillinger & West, 1995).

It pertinent to mention that the impact of organizational culture on the different phases of the creative process has not yet been empirically investigated. It can be assumed, however, that organizational culture with its strapping influence upon all processes in the organization (Cameron & Quinn, 2005; Ekvall, 1996; Sharman & Johnson, 1997) is crucial and vital during the entire creative process.


A hypothesized model of the relationships between super leadership and idea generation and creative potential is shown in Figure 1. Research hypotheses for each of the relationships will be developed. The new hypothesized model suggests that a strong basis to build work environments that support of idea generation and creativity at the individual, group and organizational levels by practicing super leadership among the members of organizations. Theorists like (Manz and Sims, 2001) have suggested a relationship between super leadership and creativity.

Based on the prior research done, a hypothesized relationship that can clearly be plotted between creativity and self-leadership is given as below:

Figure 1

Research Questions/Hypotheses

The research questions in this case are presented as follows:

What is the relationship between super leadership and creativity potential?

How super leadership provoke an employee to perform at its best level?

Because a strong super leader is predicted to be a self-motivated, self-determined, self-regulated, having a broad sense of self-efficacy, the hypothetical theoretical model proposes the following relationship in terms of hypotheses as presented below:

H1: High level of Intrinsic Motivation leads to super leadership behavior among employees.

H2: High level of Self-Determination leads super leadership behavior among employees.

H3: High level of Self-Efficacy leads to super leadership behavior among employees.

H4: High level of Self-Regulation leads to super leadership behavior among employees.

H5: Demographics Characteristics of employees serves as moderating variables that augments super leadership behavior among employees.

H6: Super leadership behavior greatly gives rise to idea generation and creative potential of employees.

H7: Idea generation and creative potential among employees stimulate and invigorate creative culture within organizational settings.


The research will be approached based on an interpretivism view. Interpretivism is the necessary research philosophy for this study because it allows the search, of the 'details of the situation, to understand the reality or perhaps a reality working behind them.

The study will be exploratory in nature because it aims to determine the present facts as well as facts that are not yet explored about the phenomenon. Exploratory research will enable the study to look at the problem in both descriptive and exploratory manner. It will look into the problem by exploring the views of different sets of respondents, as well as by exploring different literatures related with the study.

This paper analyzes potential factors of super-leadership and creative culture were analyzed using LISREL 8.8 and SPSS 14.0 softwares.

The study is comprised of testing certain hypotheses and overall proposed model analysis using Structure equation modeling technique.

Data and Sample

As the Electronic Media especially TV Channels are directly related and linked to idea generation and creativity, which leads to creativity in such organizations/firms, a representative sample from Electronic Media especially TV Channels in Pakistan, has been selected based on random sampling basis from a list of TV Channels available on web.

A total of 200 respondents have been targeted as a sample for this study from different TV Channels functioning within and outside Pakistan.

Measure/Instrument Development

Questionnaire has been developed by the researcher for this study to be used as the survey instrument. The questionnaire developed was divided into two main parts, the first part being demographic profile of an employee such as Age, Gender, Experience, Job Position, Organizational size etc and the second part was based on super-leadership and creative culture dimensions/characteristics. The various items on Super-leadership dimensions include certain factors such as intrinsic motivation, self-determination, self-efficacy and self-regulation. The items are adapted from various creativity studies. Moreover, items for idea generation and creative potential and creative culture were developed from few creativity-based studies such as Eisenberger and Aselage (2008), Eisenberger & Rhoades (2001) and McNeely & Meglino (1994).

Moreover, all the measure have been developed and pre-tested for its reliability and validity through face and content validity by the group field experts and professionals. Also, standard statistical test used for questionnaire reliability testing.

The responses for 49 items scale, after pilot testing, were calculated on five points Likert-type scale, which ranges from 1-5 i.e. 'Strongly Disagree' to 'Strongly Agree'.

By using different scales developed by the researcher for demographic profile of an employee, which has different ranges between two-points (e.g. gender) to five points (Likert Scale), the data from respondents was collected in five weeks.

Reliability and Validity of Instrument

The reliability and validity analysis for the scale measures used in empirical research is of prime importance due to several reasons. This ensures the results and finding and its predictive power which means a clear prediction about the proposed hypotheses (Flynn et al., 1994).

Similarly, Nunnally and Bernstein (1994) suggested that for testing unidimensionality of data, to check internal consistency and reliability of items used in the measures, Cronbach's alpha statistics is basic tool to calculate and generally, its value should be above the acceptable threshold of 0.70. Moreover, George et al. (2000) explained that Cronbach's alpha is the basic criterion for reliability issue of scales being utilized.

Foregoing in view, the items of scale in each construct as mentioned below were tested using coefficient alpha value for each construct as exhibited in Table 1.

Table 01: Reliability Statistics


Cronbach's Alpha


Intrinsic Motivation Items



Self-Determination Items



Self-Regulation Items



Self-Esteem Items



Idea Generation and Creativity Items



Creativity Culture Items


As a mater of fact, the Cronbach's Alpha values for measure items used in this study are ranging from 0.76 to 0.88 as shown in Table 01, which exhibits reliability of measures developed. This totally in line with argument of Bagozzi and Yi (1988) that combined reliabilities measures of constructs used in particular study must exceed the 0.70 only then results can be relied.

Besides, in order to check potential multicollinearity issue in the data to confirm discriminant validity of construct used, the correlations of possible related constructs were also computed. This recommended by Hair et al. (1998) by arguing that no single pair of measures should have correlations among them more than the criterion i.e. 0.9 and above. So, the computed values exhibited below portray that multicollinearity in the data construct is not reported among the study constructs that we used.

The correlations values are shown in Table 02 given as follows:-

Table 02: Correlations











































Idea generation








As a result of the various tests performed to check the unidimensionality of data, its reliability and discriminant validity confirm internal as well as external validity of the instrument used for data collection.


Survey questionnaire, interview and observation will be used in order to gather primary data from the respondents. Surveys are the most common form of research method for collection of primary data (Commonwealth of Learning, 2000).

A questionnaire was used for collecting data from employees of Leading TV channels. An attempt was made to increase the likelihood of obtaining the true score on need for autonomy, general self-efficacy, and self-leadership strategies rather than scores with systematic error by reducing evaluation apprehension (Donaldson & Grant-Vallone, 2002; Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee, & Podsakoff, 2003). Respondents were assured of anonymity, and they were informed that there was no right or wrong answers (Podsakoff et al.). The questionnaires were administered in a group setting at the start of class sessions and respondents took approximately 15 minutes to complete the survey.

By following sampling technique of random sample, a questionnaire with closed-ended statements was administered initially to HR Manager of the TV channels via email and a web link, where questionnaire was online available, was forwarded to them for giving responses from potential respondents. Initially, the response rate was very low i.e. 10 % of potential 200 respondents. So, in order to expedite the data collection process, the HR, marketing and creative department were contacted via phone so that to get an appointment for self administered survey.

Self-report information was also gathered from respondents regarding gender, age, and tenure. In order to address issues of self-report bias, Podsakoff and Organ (1986) suggested that researchers may reorder the items on the questionnaire so the criterion variable follows the independent variables. This scale reordering procedure was intentional as an attempt to reduce self-report bias, because all the variables in the study were obtained from the same respondents using a single survey.