Transformational leadership and speaking up: Power distance and structural distance as moderators
Sheng-Min Liu and Jian-Qiao Liao (Huazhong University of Science and Technology), 2013, 41(10), 1747–1758

The concept of power distance, or the hierarchical gap between managers and subordinates, in organizations is something I have studied in the past, and Liu and Liao’s investigation into the effect of transformational leadership style on power distance captured my interest once again. Through hierarchical regression modeling, these authors found that, in the relationship between transformational leadership and employees’ speaking up, structural distance was a positive moderator but power distance was a negative and stronger moderator than structural distance.

I believe there is great value in encouraging subordinates to speak up and give their views on the organization that they work for. Management types are often distanced from the day-to-day running, as they focus on overseeing the bigger picture and long-term plans of the business. The insights offered by those ‘in the trenches’ can be very useful but it can be difficult to “challenge the status quo and make constructive suggestions” (p. 1749) when there is a large perceived distance between manager and subordinate. The smaller perceived power distance linked, in this study, to transformational leadership style encouraged employees to speak up to their managers – both direct and indirect.

Sarah Jones | Marketing Manager    
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal