While understanding how a leader influences the followers is important for developing effective teams and achieving quality team outcomes, understanding how followers influence the leader is equally important. This is because there are reciprocal influences in the leader-follower relationship In particular, there are suggestions that leadership style might be predicted by the level of influence that the follower may have on the leader. Nevertheless, while research into the impact of leaders on followers has received significant attention in the last few decades, researchers seem to be relatively silent (until recently) on the influence of followers on their leaders. Overall, few studies have examined the followers’ influences on leaders (and in particular, little research has examined how followers’ behaviours might influence the choice of the leadership style that a leader adopts in leading his/her followers at the team level. Yet, we know that an effective leader among other things) is one that chooses a leadership style that is suitable and appropriate for the bpeculiar characteristics of his/her followers.
The current study addresses the above gap in literature, by examining the impact of followers on their leadership styles at the team level. Specifically, it examines the relationship between (1) followers’ conflict behaviours and transformational leadership, (2) members’ conflict behaviour and TMX quality, (3) transformational leadership and team work engagement and (4) the moderating role of TMX in the relationship between transformational leadership and employee’s work engagement.
Using the leader-member exchange theory as a theoretical anchor, this study aims to investigate the cross-level effects of followers’ conflict behaviours on transformational leadership and the quality of TMX. Also the relationship between transformational leadership and team work engagement, and the moderating role of TMX in the relationship between transformational leadership style and team work engagement.
Data were collected from 261 organisation employees in Singapore, using an onlinesurvey platform QUALTRICS. Results of this study indicated that followers’ problemsolving conflict behaviours are antecedents to both transformational leadership and TMX quality. Additionally, transformational leadership predicted high levels of team work engagement and this effect is enhanced by TMX quality.
The findings of the study provided both theoretical and managerial implications. Firstly, it extended in the area of conflict behaviour, transformational leadership, TMX, and team work engagement. It identified one of the antecedents to transformational leadership and TMX. This study is also one of the first few to have investigated the relationship between transformational leadership and team work engagement. Overall, this study helps managers to understand how to generate high levels of team work engagement. The findings implied that the importance of problem-solving conflict behaviours in order to allow achieve transformational leadership to take place and TMX quality to be achieved. Subsequently, they will lead to high levels of team work engagement.