Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the applicability of a previously developed model of indirect leadership (qualitative Grounded Theory case study) in a broader military context.
Design/methodology/approach – The model was operationalised to specific questionnaires for high-level managers, middle-level managers, and lower-level employees. Data were obtained from 147 Norwegian and 134 Swedish military officers, representing all three levels, and serving in the Army and Air Force respectively.
Findings – The theoretical model of indirect leadership was partly supported. Higher importance was attributed to image-oriented top-down influence, rather than to action-oriented influence via directly subordinate commanders, which may be understood using developmental, transformational, and authentic leadership formulations. Meaningful patterns of subgroup differences were obtained.
Research limitations/implications – Indirect leadership is complex and bottom-up influences were not taken into account, not all aspects of the top-down influence process were covered, only military contexts were studied, and no meaningful analysis of possible gender-related differences was possible in this male-dominated context.
Practical implications – The obtained support of the theoretical model legitimises its use as a tool in higher military management education and coaching.
Originality/value – The measurement tools of indirect leadership and the quantitatively based support of a Grounded Theory model with a how-focus on indirect leadership.
2007. Vol. 28, no 8, 771-778 p.