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Dissertation Abstract

The leadership styles adopted by mid-grade and senior military officers: Do senior field grade officers lose flexibility in selecting contingency leadership styles?

Karl J. Erickson
June 2010

An investigation into the leadership behaviors and styles of officers in the grades of O-4 through O-6 from all four military services was conducted to determine if the preferred behaviors become more task-oriented (as defined by Hersey, Blanchard and Johnson's [2008] Situational Leadership Theory) as the grade of the officer increases. Four hundred and twenty-six officers attending or stationed at the Joint Forces Staff College formed the convenience sample for the investigation with 297 (69.7%) agreeing to participate and completing the survey instrument. Results indicate that the leadership styles of military officers from all services do shift from relations-based (48%) to task-oriented (75%) behaviors regardless of the situation being analyzed by the officers. The survey also noted there was no significant difference between the leadership behaviors of male and female officers or the same grade, that there are significant differences between leader behaviors used by the officers of the four different military services and that multiple tours of duty by Army officers with one-year or less between rotations does create a significant difference between their leader behaviors and the leader behaviors of Army officers that have not served in a combat zone within the past year. Implications of the study and recommendations for future research are presented.