A qualitative investigation into leader behavioural flexibility

Crissa Sumner-Armstrong, Peter Newcombe, Robin Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The current research aims to determine to what extent Australian managers are behaviourally flexible and to identify what factors are associated with the development of leader behavioural flexibility (LBF) and its contribution to positive organisational outcomes. Design/methodology/approach – Because of the exploratory nature of the questions to be addressed, a qualitative approach to data collection was selected. In particular, the grounded theory methodology was utilised due to its ability to aid with the theory building process. Semi-structured interviews based on the critical incident interview technique were used as the data source. Findings – The findings illustrate that the Australian managers who participated in this study exhibited significant degrees of LBF. The results also suggest that education level and group size may be antecedents to LBF. In addition, it appears that leader-member exchange may mediate the relationship between LBF and positive organisational outcomes, while social intelligence may moderate this relationship. Research limitations/implications – The current research makes several contributions in terms of theoretical development and reveals a richer insight into the underlying processes associated with the relationship between LBF and positive organisational outcomes. Practical implications – As the current research was conducted in the field with 20 practising organisational managers, the findings also highlight some important practical applications regarding LBF. Originality/value – Although previous studies have been able to establish a relationship between LBF and positive organisational outcomes, they have explained very little about the processes associated with this relationship. The present study attempted to uncover some of these processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-857
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Management Development
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Australia
  • emotional intelligence
  • leadership
  • management effectiveness
  • response flexibility
  • social skills


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