Self-efficacy as the secret ingredient to effective leadership?

(Review of “A Leadership Self-Efficacy Taxonomy and Its Relation to Effective Leadership.”)

What makes that crucial difference between a leader and an effective leader? One study out this month[1] suggests that the key is leadership self-efficacy, which the authors perceive to be

“a person’s judgment that he or she can successfully exert leadership by setting direction for the work group, building relationships with followers in order to gain commitment to change goals, and working with them to overcome obstacles to change.”[2]

This study is predicated on the observation that people with “strong self-efficacy beliefs are likely to be more motivated to pursue action, contribute more effort towards those actions, and persevere to a greater degree in the face of obstacles.”[1]

The authors, having grounded themselves in this vein of leadership theory, set out to develop a taxonomy which systematically deconstructs what constitutes leadership self-efficacy and examine how it can be related to leadership effectiveness.

Readers who are looking for insight into their own leadership brand and how they regard themselves as leaders might find this study moderately interesting. Of course, this text’s true moxie will be realized by those investigating how they can help those around them (or “below” them) develop as leaders. If you take to heart that the greater the sense of self-efficacy, the greater the effectiveness of the leader, you’re bound to realize that the simplest tactic to leadership development is to provide more opportunities to develop a strong sense of self-efficacy, which in turn helps one to mature as a leader.

This study, of course, goes beyond these broad generalizations and drives down to the basic atoms of leadership self-efficacy and leadership effectiveness, providing savvy readers the intellectual capital they need to start building leaders from scratch.

From a rhetorical perspective, this study also begs the question: how much of leadership is confidence? Or, can false confidence translate into authentic leadership effectiveness? Are these authors the first to discover what could become known as the leadership placebo?


[1] David Anderson, et al., “A leadership self-efficacy taxonomy and its relation to effective leadership,” Leadership Quarterly 19, no. 5 (2008). {Link}

[2] Paglis, L. L., & Green, S. G. (2002). Leadership self-efficacy and managers’ motivation for leading change. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23, 215?235. {Link}

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