Nowadays, in this rapidly changing world the need for effective leadership for success of organization is increasing ever before. Many organizations in the world have changed their leadership so that they could achieve their organizational goals and strategies (Ismail et al. 2013:253). Therefore one of the subjects which the leaders should change along changing the conditions is their leadership style.
Leadership has many definitions that come from numerous studies over the years. Yukl (2010:26) outline leadership as the process of influencing others to recognize and agree about what desires to be achieved and how to do it, and the process of facilitating followers and collective efforts to accomplish shared goals. Leadership is the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organization (House et al. 1999: 184). DuBrin (2010:2) describes leadership as an ability to inspire confidence and support among the people who are needed to achieve organizational goals.Despite the multitude of ways in which leadership has been conceptualized, Northouse, (2016:6) identified the following components as central to the phenomenon: a)Leadership is a process, b) Leadership involves influence, c) Leadership occurs in groups, d) Leadership involves common goals. Based on these components Northouse defined leadership as a process in which an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.
Leadership has passed through number of models and theories. However the focus of this study is on full range leadership theory which encompasses transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership styles. As a new leadership approach transactional and transformational emerged in the 1970s. Inspired from Burns’ work (1978), Bass and Avolio developed the Full-range Leadership Model (Gill 2010:50). This model assumed that every leader displays the three leadership styles such as transformational, transactional and passive at different level (Avolio 2010:66). Transformational leadership focuses on what the leader accomplishes yet still pays attention to the leader’s personal characteristics and his or her relationship with group members. Transformational leader helps bring about major positive changes by moving group members beyond their self-interests and toward the good of the group, organization, or society (DuBrin, 2010: 83). Transactional leadership occurs when the leader rewards or disciplines the follower’s behavior or performance. Transactional leadership depends on laying out contingencies, agreements, reinforcements, and positive contingent rewards or the more negative active or passive forms of management-by-exception (Avolio, 2011: 63). For a leader who wants to be effective, a good balance of the three leadership styles is mandatory (Avolio 2010:49). Previous studies by different researchers demonstrated that leadership styles have an impact on the level of organizational commitment of employees.
Cohen (2003: xi) described commitment as a pressure that binds an individual to a direction of activity of relevance to at least one or extra goals. Miller (2003:73) also affirms organizational commitment as a state in which an employee identifies with a particular organization and his or her goals, and wishes to maintain membership in the organization. This description of commitment relates to the definition of organizational commitment by Arnold (2005: 625) that is the relative strength of an individual’s identification with an involvement in an organization. Meyer and Allen (1997:106) employ the tri-dimensional model to conceptualize organizational commitment in three dimensions namely, affective, continuance and normative commitments.
Affective commitment described as the employee’s emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in the organization (Meyer and Allen 1997:11). Tetrick (1995: 589) also explains affective commitment as value rationality-based organizational commitment, which refers to the degree of value congruence between an organizational member and an organization.
Meyer and Herscovitch (2001: 316) suggest that any variable that will enhance the probability of the following three matters will help employees to become affectively committed. Firstly, an employee becomes motivated by his or her own will or absorbed in the flow, in a course of action. Secondly, an employee recognizes the value or relevance of the organization or the course of action to him or herself. Thirdly, association with the organization or a course of action will shape an employee’s identity (Meyer &Herscovitch 2001: 316.)
Continuance commitment refers to awareness of the costs that would occur if the employee left the organization. Best (1994: 71) pointed out that continuance organizational commitment will therefore be the strongest when availability of alternatives is few and the number of investments is high. This argument supports the view that when given better alternatives, employees may leave the organization. Meyer and Allen, (1997: 11) describe normative commitment as the work behavior of people, guided by a way of duty, obligation and loyalty towards the organization.
Number of studies which has been conducted in different countries relates leadership styles to employees’ organizational commitment. Leadership style is a strong dimension of organization commitment when the organization culture of the organization represents employees’ values in the organization (Sabir et al 2011 pp 145-152). Study conducted by Shin (2013: iii) revealed that transformational and transactional leadership styles are positively related with organizational commitment. Raja and Palaichamy (2011:173-174) in their research showed that transformational leadership style is related to employees’ organizational commitment than the transactional leadership style. The study conducted by Lo et al. (2010: 98) in Malaysia also revealed that leadership styles of leaders are important dimensions of the social context because they shape employees organizational commitment in various ways. Organizational commitment also positively or negatively affects an organization’s performance. In many countries different organizations including public sector organizations have changed their leadership styles in order to improve their performance.