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Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration

Positive transformational leadership: case study of an Indian public sector bank


Asha Bhandarker Snigdha Rai

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Asha Bhandarker Snigdha Rai , (2015),"Positive transformational leadership: case study of an Indian
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APJBA
7,1

Positive transformational
leadership: case study of an
Indian public sector bank

34
Received 24 March 2014
Revised 16 April 2014
Accepted 16 April 2014

Asha Bhandarker and Snigdha Rai


International Management Institute, New Delhi, India
Abstract

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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the leadership style of Chairman and Managing
Director (CMD) and perceived organizational climate of an Indian public sector bank.
Design/methodology/approach For the present study data were collected using mixed-method
approach including both semi-structured interview and inventories. Sample included the top, middle,
and senior-middle level officials of the bank.
Findings Data were analyzed using content analysis and descriptive statistics. Findings indicated
that: the perceived leadership style of CMD is a combination of transformational leadership and
positive leadership; there is a positive organizational climate prevalent in the bank; and positive
transformational leadership style of CMD has played a considerable role in the development of positive
organizational climate in the bank.
Originality/value Present study provides valuable insights regarding contemporary leadership
style in an Indian organization which is the combination of both positive and transformational
leadership style and its contribution to building positive organizational climate.
Keywords Leadership, Organization studies
Paper type Case study

Introduction
Leaders in todays competitive business context face considerable challenges as they
play pivotal roles in determining organizational direction, setting strategy, creating
vision for the future and play a key role in driving organizational performance (Melchar
and Bosco, 2010; Peterson et al., 2003). As one of the fastest growing economies in Asia,
India has a unique workforce profile which is based on social relations, political
contacts, caste, and religion (Budhwar and Boyne, 2004). As discussed in the Global
Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness research project (Dorfman et al.,
2012; House et al., 2004) leadership is a culture specific phenomenon. March (2005) and
Meyer (2006) also suggested that there was a need to develop indigenous discourse on
leadership phenomenon especially based on locally grounded research.

Asia-Pacific Journal of Business


Administration
Vol. 7 No. 1, 2015
pp. 34-55
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
1757-4323
DOI 10.1108/APJBA-03-2014-0044

Leadership studies in India


Existing empirical studies on leadership in India are largely dominated by two
approaches: functionalist studies, which have tried to identify correlations between
variables associated with leadership; and interpretive studies, which have explored the
definition of leadership in the Indian context. Kanungo and Jaeger (1990) have argued
that Indian leadership styles and challenges are considerably different from those in
western countries. In their five-nation study Pillai et al. (1999) found that the differences
in leadership patterns across cultures lay in the processes through which the leader
operated. There are other empirical studies suggesting the proposition that
many leadership characteristics are universally endorsed, whereas many others are
culture bound (Singh and Krishnan, 2007; Smith and Peterson, 2002). It was therefore

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anticipated that there are bound to be unique dimensions in the operationalization of


leadership in countries like India.
Literature review of scholarly articles on leadership in Indian organizations shows
that some recent leadership research has focussed on testing universal charismatic and
transformational leadership theories (Giri and Santra, 2010; Singh and Krishnan, 2007).
On the other hand, there are studies conducted by Indian researchers who have developed
indigenous leadership model and theories. Sinha (1980) developed a culturally contingent
leadership model, the nurturant-task leadership model, which has been tested and found
to be extremely relevant in Indian context. Sinha (1995) presented evidence from more
than 40 field studies showing support for the effectiveness of the nurturant-task
leadership style in Indian context. Nurturant-task leadership model has been tested in
some recent empirical studies conducted in Indian organization (Palrecha, 2009; Sayeed,
2010; Suar et al., 2006).
In another study Singh and Krishnan (2007) used a combination of qualitative and
quantitative methods to develop a new scale to measure the Indian transformational
leadership theme. Studies conducted by Singh and Bhandarker (2011) used mixed
research methodology and explored the construct of transformational leadership as
Change Maestros (2011) in the Indian context. Singh and Bhandarker (2011) have
posited basic competencies such as contextual sensitivity, compelling vision and purpose,
winning streak, people connect and engagement, meaning making, contribution focus,
speed, creative destruction as defining feature of change maestros.
An extensive literature review of leadership studies suggest that positive traits of
leaders have been given a lot of importance by Indian leadership researchers (Kanungo
and Misra, 2004; Singh and Bhandarker, 1990; Sinha, 1995). In the course of developing
a scale to assess transformational leadership in Indian context Singh and Krishnan
(2007) identified positive dimensions of leadership (performance-oriented and humane,
openness and nurturing, sensitive and conscientious, personal touch, conviction in
self and non-traditional). Comparisons of the leadership attributes emerging in Indian
studies discussed above seem to suggest that some aspects of positive leadership
overlap with transformational leadership theme. It appears that there was a need to
re-conceptualize the transformational leadership theme in line with the current scenario
and practices.
Present case study explored leadership construct suitable for Indian organization
with reference to both transformational as well as positive leadership studies suggested
by the above literature. Since leadership also influences organizational climate, the role
of leadership in developing positive organizational climate was also explored in the
present study. In the following section we will define transformational leadership
and positive leadership. The role of positive leadership in developing positive climate
will also be discussed in the following section.
Theoretical background and research model
Transformational leadership
Transformational leadership is one of the most widely studied theories (Bass, 1997;
Berson and Avolio, 2004; Lowe and Gardner, 2000; Rafferty and Griffin, 2004).
Bass (1999) presented evidence about the near universality of the transactionaltransformational leadership paradigm. According to Bass (1985) transformational
leadership style consists of intellectual stimulation, inspiration, idealized influence and
individualized consideration-related behaviors. Podsakoff et al. (1990) extended this

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definition with two additional dimensions; supporting followers to work toward goals
and high cooperation among team members. Rafferty and Griffin (2004) proposed five
more focussed sub-dimensions of transformational leadership including vision, inspirational
communication, intellectual stimulation, supportive leadership, and personal recognition.
Transformational leadership is more positive and ultimately more effective than
transactional, corrective or avoidant leadership in terms of motivating followers
to achieve higher performance (Bass, 1985, Bass and Avolio, 1990; Burns, 1978). Yukl
(1999) reported that transformational behaviors of the leader elicit followers trust and
respect for the leader. This proposition has been tested and confirmed in a number of
studies over the last decade (e.g. Dumdum et al., 2002; Lowe et al., 1996). Transformational
leaders achieve greater organizational performance by aligning individuals with the
strategic vision, mission, and collective goals of their organization (Pawar and Eastman,
1997; Waldman et al., 1990). Several meta-analyses have also confirmed the relationship
between transformational leadership and followers attitudes, such as job satisfaction,
commitment (DeGroot et al., 2000; Fuller et al., 1996; Lowe et al., 1996; Judge and Piccolo,
2004) as well as task performance (Dumdum et al., 2002; Judge and Piccolo, 2004).
Moreover, empirical studies also support the effectiveness of transformational leadership
in stimulating teams collective efficacy and consequently increasing team performance
(Sivasubramaniam et al., 2002).
A number of studies focussed specifically on the importance of CEOs
transformational leadership with respect to the functioning of a top management
team (Colbert et al., 2008; Peterson et al., 2009; Stoker et al., 2012). The relevance of CEO
leadership for organizational performance during organizational change has also been
verified in many empirical studies (Flood et al., 2000; Ling et al., 2008). Findings of these
studies suggest that transformational CEOs play an important role in effectively
achieving change, because they encourage organizational members to persistently
anticipate and adapt to change (Jung et al., 2008; Waldman et al., 2004). Conger and
Kanungo (1998) suggest that during periods of crisis and change, transformational
leaders articulate visions to generate new ideas and strategic directions for the future.
Positive leadership
Positive leadership applies positive principles arising from the newly emerging field of
positive psychology (Seligman, 1999; Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), positive
organizational behavior (Luthans, 2002; Wright, 2003) as well as positive organizational
scholarship (Cameron et al., 2003; Cameron and Spreitzer, 2012; Kelloway, 2011) and
positive change (Cooperrider and Srivastava, 1987). Cameron (2012) defines the construct
of positive leadership as the ways in which leaders facilitate positively deviant
performance, cultivate a positive orientation, and stimulate a focus on virtuousness and
the best of human condition. More recently, there have been several empirical studies on
positive leadership where positivity was defined as employee perceptions of leaders
psychological capital (hope, optimism, self-efficacy and resilience). Positive leadership
promotes outcomes such as thriving at work, interpersonal flourishing, virtuous
behaviors and positive emotions (Cameron et al., 2003). In sum, positive leadership leads
to high organizational performance, enabling best of the human conditions and creating
exceptionally positive outcomes (Avey et al., 2011; Cameron, 2012).
Positive leadership and positive organizational climate
Norman et al. (2010) reported that leader positivity resulted in followers reporting
higher trust in leaders and greater perceptions of leader effectiveness. This work views

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positive leadership as the precursor to developing a positive organizational climate.


Positive climate refers to a work environment in which positive emotions prevail over
negative emotions (Denison, 1996; Smidts et al., 2001). Employees with optimistic attitudes
and cheerful outlooks are typical of positive climate; also well-being predominates over
distress and dissatisfaction. According to Mathieu and Zajac (1990) organizational
performance was substantially and positively affected by a positive climate. Also, positive
climate was especially affected by the approach the leader adopts (Myers and Diener,
1995; Fredrickson, 2003). Leaders significantly affect organizational climate as they
personally induce, develop and display positive emotions. Consequently this results in
positivity among followers and an increase in their organizational commitment (Cameron,
2012). Positive leaders facilitate positive energy both by modeling positive energy
themselves and by diagnosing and building positive energy networks among
others, which in turn generates positive interpersonal relationship in organizations
(Bolino et al., 2002).
Positive leaders use supportive communication to enable positive deviance through
their feedback, particularly when corrective, critical, or negative messages must be
delivered (Cameron, 2011). Empirical evidence confirms the proposition that supportive
communication is a prerequisite and a key enabler of positive organizational
performance (Dutton, 2003; Spitzberg, 1994). Positive leaders enable extraordinary
performance by associating the work being done with positive meaning. Empirical
evidence further suggests that when people experience positive meaning at work, it
results in greater individual performance and improved well-being (Grant, 2008).
Empirical studies also suggest that an organizations positive affective climate is
significantly associated with workforce performance (Scullen et al., 2005; Shaw et al.,
2005). Theoretically, the link between positive climate and workforce performance
builds on the notion that positive emotions broaden peoples thought-action repertoires
and build their enduring personal resources, ultimately enabling them to achieve
higher performance levels (Fredrickson, 2003). According to Martin, (2004) if employees
collectively experience positive climate, then, employees throughout the organization
should be able to approach work tasks more efficiently, in a more flexible, more creative
and innovative, and consequently exhibit higher levels of overall employee productivity
and aggregate task performance (Tsai et al., 2007; Wilderom, 2011).
Objectives of the study and relevance of mixed-method approach
The major objective of the present case study was to explore the possible presence
of an Indian leadership theme characterized by elements of both positive and
transformational leadership styles. Such leadership is considered to be critical at the
Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) level to bring about greater performance in an
India public sector bank. This case study also explored the role of leadership in
developing positive organizational climate. The present study was conducted in Bank
of Baroda (BOB), which has been adjudged number one in terms of numerous
performance parameters in year 2011 and has been consistently among the top
performers among public sector banks in the last four years (Business Today, 2011).
To conduct the present study, a mixed-method approach (Tashakkori and Teddlie,
2003) constituting both qualitative and quantitative techniques was used. Avolio et al.
(2009) suggested that qualitative designs as well as multiple sources and a mixedmethod approach should be used, in addition to the traditional survey-based approach.
Takahashi et al. (2012) propose that in order to understand leadership phenomena in a
global context, it is necessary to take a triangulation approach, employing multiple

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methods like surveys, experiments, company records, and qualitative interviews.


Stentz et al. (2012) in their review article highlighted the value of purposeful application
of mixed methods designs toward advancing leadership theory and/or theoretical
thinking about leadership phenomena.
Mixed methods have been defined as comprising quantitative and qualitative data
collection, data analysis and the mixing of quantitative and qualitative approaches
within a single study, with data integrated at some stage (Creswell et al., 2003; Creswell
and Plano Clark 2007). Convergent parallel design of mixed-method approach was
applied in the present case study (Creswell and Plano Clark, 2011). The convergent
parallel is characterized by concurrent timing of qualitative and quantitative data
collection methods. Both methods have equal priority and different components are
kept independent. Both methods are mixed during the results stage when overall
interpretations of obtained results are made (Creswell and Plano Clark, 2011). In this
study, semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the dynamic aspects of the
leadership phenomena, while structured questionnaire has been used to study the static
aspects of leadership attributes. Both the approaches were initiated concurrently (Creswell
and Plano Clark, 2011; Greene et al., 1989; Morse, 1991) with a view to identify the extent to
which the data from one approach reinforces the findings from the other. One the seven
phases of the mixed methods data analysis process defined as data reduction technique;
where quantitative data are analyzed using descriptive statistics and qualitative data are
categorized as descriptive themes (Collins and OCathain, 2009; Onwuegbuzie and Teddlie,
2003; Teddlie and Tashakkori 2009) was used in the present study.
Background of the organization: BOB
The present study was conducted in BOB which has the reputation of good performance
among public sector banks of India. BOB has been growing at around 26-27 percent in the
last few years, while the industry has been growing at an average of 18-19 percent.
The international operations of BOB have multiplied four times. BOB has held a record
of doubling its performance every three years right from 2008. In the year 2011 bank has
attained the first rank in terms of percentage of total business growth year on year, which
is a distinctive achievement dreamt of by every public sector bank. The branch expansion
in the last few years has also been very aggressive.
Before other Indian banks, BOB had an international presence primarily to cater to
Indian Diaspora. Today the bank has 96 offices abroad which contribute to 29.8 percent
of the business and 24.7 percent of the gross profits of the Bank. It has a network of
4,043 branches and close to 42,000 employees. The story of BOB in the last five years
under the leadership of CMD was a rare example of a public sector bank which
achieved excellence despite the internal and external constraints it faced. The bank has
received many accolades and awards in the last five years and in 2012 had the
distinction of being ranked as the Best Public sector bank (Business Today, 2012).
The share value of the bank has zoomed up from a high of Rs 234 in March 2006 and Rs
360 in March 2008 to a high of Rs 860 in March 2012. It is remarkable that these
milestones were reached without unrest and by holding high the positive image of the
bank in the current volatile environment.
Method
Procedure and data collection
The present study was based on case study methodology. Case studies are frequently
used in organizational research to investigate complex phenomena in a holistic way,

focussing on considerate the dynamics present within single settings (Eisenhardt,


1989). In general, case studies combine both qualitative and quantitative data collection
methods. Theoretical sampling method had been used to identify the suitable company
(BOB) for data collection. Theoretical sampling simply means that cases are selected
because they are particularly suitable for illuminating and extending relationships and
logic among themes (Eisenhardt and Graebner, 2007).

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39
Qualitative data collection method and procedure
In the case of the qualitative research method responses were collected using the semistructured interview technique. On the basis of extensive review of seminal literature
on leadership theme and organizational climate and performance, broad questions were
developed by the researchers and as and when required, probe questions were also
asked to understand the views shared by the interviewees. Interviewers covered all the
broad questions in the designated interview schedule with each respondent and
respondents were encouraged to follow their own thought-process.
Interviews were conducted with executives at top, senior and senior-middle levels in
BOB. The non-directive interviewing technique was used in order to identify broad
themes. Table I report the details of all 46 top, senior and senior-middle level officers of
the bank, those were interviewed for the present study. Respondents came from a wide
range of departments and regions of the bank, including Human Resource, IT, Marketing,
E-Business, Risk Management, International Operations, Recovery and Legal, etc.
Interviews were held face-to-face in private meeting rooms and lasted for approximately
hour. All respondents agreed with our request to audiotape the interviews. All the
interview tapes were transcribed in their entirety.
Quantitative data collection method and procedure
Quantitative data were collected with the help of an online survey. The purpose
of using a questionnaire to conduct the survey was descriptive, not inferential. A short
questionnaire on leadership and organizational climate was circulated online to 200
officers of the bank. The questionnaire data were gathered in order to validate the
interview findings from a larger number of people across the organization. The sample
for the study was restricted to those persons who are at the top, senior and seniormiddle levels, who would have had a direct interaction with the CMD and therefore in a
position to closely interact with and observe the actions and styles of the CMD.
Online link of the questionnaire was circulated to approximately 200 top, senior and
senior-middle level officers. Total 123 responses were received within the stated time
deadline indicating 62 percent response rate. Detail description of the sample is
reported in Table II.

Designation
General Managers
Deputy General Managers /Deputy Regional Managers
Assistant General Managers
Zonal Managers
Deputy Zonal Managers
Total

No. of Bank Officers interviewed


13
06
08
15
04
46

Table I.
Interview
sample details

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40

To assess the perceived leadership style of CMD of BOB, an inventory consisting of 38


attributes developed by Singh and Bhandarker (2011) was utilized in the present study.
Each leadership attribute was measured on a seven-point scale where 1 represents
being least visible and 7 represents being most visible style of CMD. Organizational
climate of BOB was measured with the help of 35 item tool, which was developed by the
Singh and Bhandarker (2011). All items were to be rated on a seven-point scale where
1 represents being least visible and 7 represents being most visible.

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Results
Findings of qualitative data analysis (content analysis)
Content analysis method (Glaser and Strauss, 1967) was used to analyze the collected
qualitative data. Two layers of content analysis: a systematic analysis of the manifest
content contained in the verbatim of each respondent, followed by a more interpretive
analysis of the latent content was conducted to analyze interview data. In manifest
content analysis, the transcripts were read carefully and distinct thought-units or
concepts related to leadership and organizational climate were identified and listed
separately (Lee, 1999; Miles and Huberman, 1984; Strauss and Corbin, 1994). A thoughtunit or concept constituted a word, a phrase or a sentence, but each thought-unit
represented a distinct and separate thought or concept. These thought-units were then
organized into emergent categories that were conceptually similar to each other and
different from other thought-units. These emergent thought-units were given categorized
and then counted to see the number of times each thought unit appeared across all 46
interviews. Subsequently, latent content analysis was used to find similarity among the
initial categories and defining the different dimensions of leadership in the Indian context.
Perceived leadership style of CMD
Findings from the content analysis were organized into four broad themes. The first
theme was labeled as strategic thinking and business orientation and consists of five
subthemes, namely business acumen and macro perspective, Himalayan vision, strategic
thinking, high focussed and goal orientation. The second leadership theme was labeled
development orientation consisting of mentor, coach and teacher subthemes. Influence
orientation is the third theme, and it is characterized by four subthemes namely; splendid
communication and intense listening, approachable, employees connect. Role modeling
also emerged as a theme and consisted of four subthemes namely; cool and composed
temperament, humility, hardworking and positive approach. The interview data and
information which prompted the labeling of these themes are presented below.
1. Strategic thinking and business orientation. Interviewees talked about the business
acumen and macro perspective of CMD along with Himalayan vision and strategic
thinking capability followed by high focus and goal orientation. Respondents identified
CMD as a person with great understanding about the market dynamics as well as a
Levels

Table II.
Sample description
of online survey

Level 3
29
Level 4
17
Level 5
55
Level 6
22
Note: n 123

Age (mean)

Work exp (mean)

Education level

45.5 years
50 years
52.5 years
55.9years

21.5 years
26.5 years
29 years
33 years

Graduate
Graduate
Graduate
Graduate

14 Post Graduate 15
5 Post Graduate 12
16 Post Graduate 39
5 Post Graduate 16 Doctorate 1

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person who was aware of both the big picture and ground realities of banking industry.
This trait of the CMD was well expressed by one of the respondents as, CMDs
assessment of different sectors of the economy is on the dot. Second, many interviewees
characterized CMD as a man with Himalyan vision.
Analysis of the interview data also revealed that in every speech of CMD the vision
of making BOB the most admired bank was shared passionately. Most interesting,
however was that barring specific occasions when bottom-line numbers and targets
were discussed, interviewees said CMD always talked about values, contribution,
becoming the most admired bank and so on, raising the level of consciousness of the
people rather than pushing the numbers. CMD was also characterized as a strategic
thinker. One of the strategies of CMD was conducting business by focussing on building
a diversified portfolio-spreading the risk across various products was the foremost
observation made by many respondents. This strategic thinking capability was noted by
respondents in terms of CMDs assessment of the credit worthiness of many companies
which was proved accurate subsequently. Focus on leveraging technology and
international expansion was other strategic decisions taken by CMD which proved
extremely successful. All the interviewees also highlighted another defining
characteristic of CMD as highly focussed and goal-oriented person.
2. Development orientation. One of the outstanding aspects of CMDs leadership
style which emerged from the qualitative analysis of interview data was the manner in
which he became a coach, mentor and teacher of the top 100-400 executives. As one of
the respondent stated He gave us a very good inputs and excellent techniques for
providing branch level leadership indicating the extent to which CMD has gone to
groom leaders. Another respondent avowed CMD helped us to rediscover what we are
capable of doing; he probably rediscovered the talent in us.
3. Influence orientation. Content analysis of the data also suggests important
characteristics of leadership style of CMD labeled as influence orientation. Respondents
appreciate the way CMD has maintained stable communication with the top 400
executives up to chief manager level in the last four years through various channels
including planning and review meetings and large group communications such as
town-hall addresses. In addition, CMD communicates regularly with all 42,000 employees
on a quarterly basis wherever possible through face-to-face meetings, video conferencing,
newsletters sharing the latest happenings and plans through the in-house magazine.
Another definitive characteristic which emerged from interview data was the
excellent communicating skill and intense listening skill of the CMD. Everyone
unanimously said that CMD has a tremendous capability to touch hearts and spread
smiles. As one of the respondent stated The way he delivers his speech is a delight to
watch. He sold his dreams to all Barodians and together they brought about the silent
transformation in the bank. Intense and active listening skill emerged as a valued quality
because typically CMDs of Indian public sector banks tend to instruct and advice others,
rather than listen and take views from people around them. Respondents also reported
another distinct characteristic of CMD as an extremely approachable and connected
person. Testimony of the same was obvious from one of the statement given by
respondent as CMD is very particular in returning calls and he make call back when he
finds the time on the very same day. If I call from the landline then I wait in the office until
I receive the return call from him. I remember once I got a return call at 9 pm.
4. Role modeling. The last theme which emerges out of the content analysis of
interview data was labeled as role model because of his calm and composed

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temperament, humility, hard work and positive approach. The calm and cool
disposition was an important quality of CMD which all respondents have appreciated.
Another important reason for CMD to be perceived as role model by others was
humility. Most respondents described CMD as humble and down to earth person.
He does not act like a CMD he interacts so freely with us when there are meetings, you
do not feel that you are talking to the CMD. Even on annual day celebrations he stands
at the gate to welcome guests stated some of the interviewees admiringly. All the
corporate office interviewees unanimously expressed that CMD was a man of high
energy and hard work. Finally respondents also emphasized that CMD hold the
reputation of being a positive person with a positive agenda for the bank. As one of
the DGMs put it, He trusts people to deliver and does not micro manage. People feel so
empowered that they actually feel like rising up to his expectations. Interviewees also
reported that CMD always focus on the positive aspects and positive outlook of future.
In the meantime he was also very focussed on what needs to be done to achieve
future targets.
The above presentation on the findings indicates the presence of components
of transformational leadership along with strong presence of positivity and positive
approach in the leadership of the CMD. The broad themes that we identified are
strategic thinking and business orientation, development orientation, influence
orientation and role modeling which altogether lead to define the leadership style
of CMD as positive transformational leadership. The interviewees also mentioned the
leadership style of CMD as very highly demanding in terms of performance. As one of
the interviewee stated he works so hard that we did not have any choice but to work
hard ourselves, we cannot say no to him. Another fact worth reporting was the
statement made by many interviewees that the present style of CMD was pleasantly
different from that of the previous CMD. The previous CMD of the bank was described
as a tough task master and responsible to rescue the bank out of its downward spiral
and turned it around. This no doubt has a strong positive impact on the collective
psyche of the bank officers, as most of them mentioned the word comfort which they
had experienced due to positive transformational style of the present CMD, in contrast
to fear and anxiety which they experienced under the previous CMD.
Perceived organizational climate of BOB
The findings which have emerged from the content analysis regarding organizational
climate have been organized into two broad themes, namely performance-oriented
climate and positive climate. Performance-oriented climate was characterized by focus
on business and performance with ethics and customer focus. Positive climate was
characterized by empowering, open, collaborative climate and focus on leadership
development practices.
1. Performance-oriented climate. The first theme with respect to perceived
organizational climate which emerge out of content analysis of interview transcripts
was labeled as performance-oriented climate. It was obvious from qualitative analysis
that a strong emphasis was given to ethical corporate governance in BOB. In fact the
bank makes disclosures beyond what was mandated by law. At the same time a strong
business focus was developed and conveyed to everyone relentlessly. The message given
was of growth with quality. A respondent in the study stated CMD clearly told officers
that they should follow procedures and that there was no need to take any shortcuts.
CMD himself gave focus on asset quality and better NPA management.

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According to the interviewees empowerment and involvement was dovetailed


with close monitoring, review and analysis. The review by CMD includes not only
discussions on factors responsible for missing targets but also close guidance on where
to focus for business development. Great thrust was given to zones and regions
through quarterly reviews where each zone was separately discussed and reviewed on
multiple parameters. Healthy internal competition was generated across the regions by
displaying all target and performance related information on the intranet. Clear messages
were given consistently to the zonal managers at various meetings to respond quickly on
loan applications. The message of quick response to the customer spread throughout
the organization. As one of the interviewee stated, CMD himself is very responsive to the
customer and believes in quick decision making and we do the same.
2. Positive climate. Analysis of interview data also suggests the presence of positive
work climate characterized by empowering, open and collaborative climate in the bank.
Openness was reflected in meetings where people get encouragement to express their
thoughts and ideas freely. The slogan of 3Ts Trust, Transparency and Togetherness
were tirelessly emphasized by the CMD at various fora in the bank. Bringing people
together, emphasizing larger goal, empowering climate created a high positive work
environment in the bank.
Team work and collaboration was demonstrated right from the top level. One of the
RMs stated, Earlier there were groups and so we were cautious in communication but
now we are all Barodians. Chairmans habit of giving credit of all achievements to the
Barodians rather than taking credit himself at the annual meets, further reinforced
the message of team spirit. In fact it was also observed by the researchers that people
are receptive and open-minded and volunteer new ideas because the result of good
performance was in front of them in terms of recognition from media. One of the
interviewee avowed, If we look back what we got in the last four years? No extra
money, no extra benefit. What we have got is prestige, honor name and fame in the
industry. Feel so proud to be Barodians.
In addition to CMD playing the role of mentor and coach, efforts are being made for
leadership development within the bank, through an initiative entitled Sparsh to
educate, train, groom and develop high potential executives. To date while all Indian
public sector banks have been talking about the talent crunch, hardly any bank has
given it the kind of thrust which CMD has given in BOB especially on focussed
leadership development. Besides this, a number of initiatives were introduced to
recognize good performance in the bank. The interviewees talked about the initiatives
like Dinner with the CMD scheme which has been introduced for high performers.
An interviewee also stated Introduction of branch level performance incentives not
only for the manager but for the entire branch has really gone a long way to increase
motivation and performance and reinforced the sense of team. It must be mentioned
here that interviewees brought out that employees were not very happy with the fact
they have to work really hard without any monetary rewards. These were not shared
as complaints rather they were mentioned in a matter of fact during interview process.
Perhaps the positive energy, recognition and sense of pride which executives in the
bank experienced so far, kept such concerns at bay.
Findings of quantitative data analysis (descriptive analysis)
The data collected with the help of online survey were analyzed and results of
descriptive statistics are listed in Tables III and IV. Perusal of Table III brings out the

Case study of
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public sector
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43

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44

Table III.
Descriptive
analysis (perceived
leadership style)

Descriptive statistics
Cool and composed
Have ambitious plans for the organization
Result focussed
Respects the dignity of others
Is an effective communicator and good listener
Has high credibility
Is a visionary
Provides clear sense of direction
Radiates positive energy
Is a strategic thinker
Is transparent
Is reliable
Has a global mind-set
Is a role model for others
Has empowering and supporting attitude
Is a team builder
Leads from the front
Is entrepreneurial
Is open to new ideas
Empowering and supportive
Is a man of words
Is innovative and creative
Has helping attitude
Makes people feel that they are valued by the organization
Humility
Fast in making critical decisions
Stands like a rock in the face of calamities
Is interested in the growth of his people
Leads by example
Pursues excellence in everything
Makes people feel that they have great worth
Grooms and develops people
Is persuasive
Is fair and impartial
Is demanding and performance-centric
Recognizes and rewards performance
Mentor and coach
Approachable

Mean

SD

Rank

6.57
6.51
6.5
6.47
6.46
6.42
6.41
6.39
6.37
6.35
6.32
6.31
6.29
6.28
6.25
6.23
6.22
6.19
6.17
6.17
6.11
6.15
6.09
6.08
6.07
6.06
6.05
6.04
6.03
6.02
6.01
5.98
5.95
5.85
5.83
5.75
5.65
5.57

0.76
0.99
0.71
0.94
0.92
0.94
1.01
1.01
1.01
0.91
1.06
1.11
1.11
1.17
1.02
1.13
1.19
1.01
1.14
1.01
1.26
1.15
1.14
1.31
1.38
1.11
1.07
1.31
1.2
1.1
1.29
1.2
1.14
1.35
1.25
1.47
1.36
1.49

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38

salient perceived leadership styles of CMD. For the purpose of analysis, the mean
values of the 38 leadership style have been broadly grouped into three categories: Most
Visible (6.5 and above); Highly Visible (5.5-6.5); and Visible ( W 5.5). As it is evident from
the obtained results that on a seven-point scale, perceived leadership style of CMD are
rated more than 5.57. The mean values range from 6.57 to 5.57 indicates that the rating
of all leadership style related attributes are either highly visible or mostly visible.
Of the 38 items in the leadership inventory, three attributes reported to be most
visible leadership style and rest of all 35 attributes reported to be in the highly visible
category. The homogeneity of the perception of leadership style is indicated by the low
standard deviation (1.5). The score on the top ten leadership attributes range from
6.35 to 6.57 very high score indeed on a seven-point scale. This indicates consistency
in his behavior, style and actions.

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Descriptive statistics
Responsiveness to customer
Global perspective
Result orientation
Vertical communication (top-down)
Ethical governance
Focus on continuous improvement
Focus on building competitiveness
Performance excellence focussed
Teamwork
Trust
Entrepreneurial
Process focussed
Opportunity to learn and grow
Culture of celebration of achievements and successes
Role clarity
Openness to new ideas
People orientation
Speedy response to external demands and challenges
Empowerment and delegation
Horizontal communication (within department)
Centralization of decision-making process
Community culture
Nurturing talent
Openness and transparency
Participative target setting
Nurturing innovation
Participative target setting
Cross-functional collaboration
Performance-based promotion
Horizontal communication (across departments)
Tolerance of differences
Speedy response to internal demands
Support for risk taking
Vertical communication (bottom-up)
Stress-free climate

Mean

SD

Rank

6.05
5.71
5.65
5.65
5.64
5.38
5.37
5.36
5.35
5.31
5.29
5.28
5.25
5.21
5.19
5.19
5.15
5.15
5.14
5.09
5.07
5.04
5.01
4.95
4.86
4.76
4.69
4.65
4.64
4.53
4.51
4.43
4.34
4.32
4.21

1.02
1.25
1.23
1.25
1.49
1.48
1.30
1.54
1.38
1.57
1.37
1.26
1.36
1.62
1.52
1.50
1.54
1.52
1.49
1.39
1.49
1.57
1.54
1.64
1.75
1.52
1.75
1.43
1.86
1.42
1.53
1.67
1.64
1.62
1.75

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35

The salient characteristics of perceived organizational climate are reported in Table IV.
A quick perusal of obtained result brings out that all the 35 work climate attributes
have been rated above average the minimum score being 4.21 (stress-free climate) and
the highest mean value being 6.05 (responsiveness to customer). Homogeneity in the
responses is indicated by low standard deviation (1.75) across all climate related
parameters. Responsiveness to the customer is the number 1 most visible aspect of the
work climate; followed by global perspective (2); result orientation (3); vertical
communication (4); ethical governance (5); focus on continuous improvement (6); focus
on building competitiveness (7); performance excellence focussed (8); team work (9) and
trust ( 10). The mean values of these work climate attributes range from 6.05 on a
seven-point scale the number 1 ranked attribute) to 5.31(rank number 10).
Discussion and conclusion
This case study aims to explore the perceived leadership style of CMD and perceived
organizational climate of BOB. Quantitative data were collected with the help of online

Case study of
an Indian
public sector
bank
45

Table IV.
Descriptive analysis
(perceived
organizational
climate)

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46

questionnaire with respect to perceived leadership style of CMD and organizational


climate. Overall there is similarity in results of qualitative and quantitative data
analysis in terms of perceived leadership style of CMD and organizational climate both.
It is observed from descriptive analysis (reported in Table III) that, the most highly
rated attributes of leadership style of CMD belong to the theme, namely role modeling.
Role modeling is represented in the top ten attributes namely; cool and composed (rank
1), respects the dignity of others (rank 4) has high credibility (rank 6) and radiates
positive energy (rank 9). Leadership attributes which belong to the theme business
acumen and strategic thinking are also evident in the top ten ambitious plan for the
organization (rank 2), result focussed (rank 3), visionary (rank 7), provides clear sense
of direction (rank 8) and strategic thinker (rank 10). Effective communicator and good
listener (rank 5) belong to the leadership theme defined as influence orientation.
Overall, the findings of survey reinforce and support the results of interview data.
Comparison of the results of qualitative and quantitative data analysis indicates
that there are similarities in results of perceived organizational climate of BOB.
Perusal of the top ten organizational climate attributes (refer to Table IV) specify that
six of the climate attributes can be broadly classified as performance-oriented
climate responsiveness to customer (rank 1), global perspective (rank 2), result
orientation (rank 3), focus on continuous improvement (rank 6), focus on building
competitiveness (rank 7), and performance excellence focussed (rank 8). The presence
of ethical governance in the top ten cluster shows that business is done within the ethical
framework and norms of the industry. In the other top rated attributes of organizational
climate, team work and trust emerged at rank 9 and 10, respectively, which belongs to
theme of positive climate in the bank. Analysis of semi-structured interview content
indicates that there was strong focus on both organizational performance as well as
employee development. Goals are achieved with the help of collaboration and team
work. Participative target setting has been mentioned by all the interviewees. Results
demonstrate that bank officers have reported widespread positive emotions i.e., trust,
transparency and togetherness in BOB. Findings of the online questionnaire survey
reports that the perceived organizational climate of BOB was primarily performance
oriented (responsiveness to customer, global perspectives, results orientation). Positive
climate (team work, trust, opportunity to learn and grow) has also been rated among the
major dimension of perceived organizational climate in BOB. In sum, both qualitative and
quantitative data analysis suggest that the organizational climate of BOB has elements
of positive climate combined with performance-oriented climate.
It was observed from interview and survey data that the major perceived leadership
style of CMD include both transformational (results focussed, have ambitious plans
for the bank, high credibility and visionary) and positive leadership style (cool and
composed, respects the dignity of others, good listener, radiates positive energy).
The results also suggest that CMDs possess great listening skills, positivity, humility,
team focus, and personal touch that qualify him as positive leader (Cameron, 2012).
Also the leadership style of CMD is reported as transformational owing to his
reputation of a leader with Himalayan vision, strategic thinker and high goal
orientation (Bass, 1985; Burns, 1978; Dorfman et al., 2012). Transformational leader
posses ability to influence their followers perceptions and actions in terms of rallying
their support toward an articulated vision, inspiring them, and meeting their needs,
through exemplary behavior and self-sacrifice that set the leaders apart from the rest
(Bass and Avolio, 1995). Qualitative data analysis strongly advocates the role of CMD
as a mentor and coach for the top management team of the bank. Therefore, it can be

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said that the leadership style of CMD is an integration of both positive and
transformational leadership style.
Youssef and Luthans (2012) also discussed that there is a strong link between
positive and transformational leadership theory. According to them transformational
leadership can be related to flourishing and elevating processes and outcomes in
relation to followers, therefore transformational leadership overlaps with positive
leadership more than any of the other established leadership theories. Bass (1998) also
affirmed that transformational leadership requires that leaders have a positive and
inspirational vision for the future of the organization. The business performance of
BOB in the last few years reported in Table V indicates that this integrated positive
transformational leadership style is an effective style in an Indian public sector
organization.
In-depth analysis of interview data indicates that there was a strong role of
played by the CMD in building positive and performance-oriented climate in
BOB. This statement can be supported by the findings of interview and survey data
both, where the employees reported the significant role of CMD in creating positive
and employee-oriented climate. A positive work climate has also been found
to enhance productivity, creativity, decision making, social integration and
pro-social behavior (Bolino et al., 2002; Rhoades and Eisenberger, 2002).
According to Fredrickson (2003) positive emotions in organizational settings
not only produces individuals who function at higher levels, but may also produce
organizations that function at higher levels.

Case study of
an Indian
public sector
bank
47

Relevance of findings in Indian perspective


This case study was based on the in-depth examination of a single Indian organization
and therefore, like any case study it faces threats to its external validity (Lee, 1999).
The findings of the case study generate valuable insights regarding positive
transformational leadership style of the CMD and its contribution in developing positive
work climate and subsequently high organizational performance in Indian setting. In this
study the leadership of CMD was reported to be a combination of both positive and
transformational styles. It was evident from the findings that CMD was firm about
the performance, along with being humble and respecting the dignity of others.
The combination of both performance and humility is rarely evident in a public sector
leader in the Indian setting and therefore it appears to be highly appreciated and valued.
Year

Total business (Rs in crores)

2002
95,467
2003
101,714
2004
108,568
2005
124,733
2006
153,574
2007
208,537
2008
258,735
2009
335,648
2010
416,297
2011
534,115
2012
672,248
Source: Annual Report of Bank of Baroda (www.bankofbaroda.com)

% growth
17.15
6.54
6.74
14.89
23.12
35.79
24.07
29.73
24.03
28.30
25.86

Table V.
Performance of Bank
of Baroda (BOB)

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48

Leaders behavior is very important in energizing and motivating employees to work for
extra mile for the organization. In the present study, positive leadership style of CMD has
significantly contributed to the development of positive climate in BOB. Theoretically,
the link between positive affective climate and workforce performance builds on the
notion that positive emotions broaden peoples thought-action repertoires and build their
enduring personal resources (Fredrickson, 2003), eventually enabling them to achieve
higher performance levels. In India, positive emotions play a significant role in employee
performance and determining the climate of the organization (Pareek, 2003).
The clear focus on strategic thinking and business orientation of the leader is
important in an Indian public sector organization, where a significant responsibility
rests with CMD. In fact in the Indian public sector banks, there is a deficit of structural
devices like strong think-tank groups at the organizational level, and this shifts the
strategic thinking load on the CMD. Thus, to be a successful transformational leader
in the Indian public sector context, being a strategic thinker with strong business
orientation is one of the key factors. Development orientation is highly valued in this
bank because such an orientation is conspicuous by its absence in the Indian public
sector banking context. When the CMD himself is perceived as a coach, mentor and
teacher, it meets the expectation and need of the people to relate with the person in
power and high status. The Influence orientation of the leader has worked so well
because employees value and cherish the opportunity to connect with the most
powerful person of the organization the CMD. Given the hierarchical nature of Indian
organizations this tendency is understandable (Sinha, 1995). Perhaps it works by
enhancing the sense of self-worth and power experience. Indian work climate especially
in Indian public sector is also known to be hierarchical, CEO signaling in terms of
priorities and focus becomes very important. Employees tend to follow their leaders
whom they view as a role model. In this case people admired CMD for being calm and
composed, hardworking as well as high focus on organizational performance. All these
qualities in a leader may be culture free and may be important globally, but in the
Indian context, role modeling is a necessary condition for mobilizing the entire
organization for transforming organizational performance, given the emotional
orientation and need of nurturance among Indian employees (Sinha, 1995; Singh and
Krishnan, 2007).
Positive transformational leadership style is thus the uniquely Indian approach
adopted by an Indian leader in successfully taking an Indian organization to the zone of
high performance. In the process the leader also created a positive organizational
climate which helped in mobilizing people to move in unison to generate organizational
level results. Results obtained from both the qualitative as well as quantitative data
analysis, indicate that leadership style of CMD consists of strategic thinking and
business orientation, development orientation, influence orientation and role modeling.
The broadly perceived organizational climate is reported as collaborative, positive and
performance oriented. There is evidence to indicate that positive emotions are
displayed both at the individual and organizational levels. This is due to the fact that
positive transformational leadership directly results in the creation of positive climate
which ultimately leads to widespread positive emotions, resulting in a virtuous cycle
of positivity throughout the organization. With this background, we now propose
a conceptual/theoretical framework to be empirically tested and verified in Indian
setting (Figure 1).
The mixed-method approach focussing on in-depth case research combined with
quantitative data gathering using a questionnaire on a larger sample, to validate the

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Performance/
Positive Climate

Role Modeling

Influence
Orientation

Developmental
Orientation

Strategic
Thinking &
Business
Orientation

Positive Transformational Leadership

Individual level
Positive Emotions

Organizational
Performance

insights from the interview data, are the foremost strength of the present case study.
Since our research design was based on descriptive approach, future research must
examine the reported results with the help of causal research designs. It is advisable to
conduct a large sample based quantitative study the test and validate the findings of
the present case study. In sum, the overall results of qualitative and quantitative data
analysis provide strong support for the combination of positive and transformational
leadership style in Indian setting. Organizational climate of BOB was also a combination
of positive and performance-oriented climate both. This case based research using the
mixed-method approach has a great potential to increase our insights into the dynamics
of the leadership phenomenon.
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About the authors
Dr Asha Bhandarker is a well-known Professor and Scholar of Organizational Behavior in India.
She has significant work experience of 27 years in teaching, training, research and consulting
across public, private sector companies as well as multinational corporations. She has been a
Senior Fulbright Fellow at the Darden School of Business and George Mason University (USA),
as well as Fellow at the London Business School (England). She is an MA in Psychology and PhD
in Business Administration from the Osmania University and has Advanced Behavioral Science

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Training from leading centres like NTL in USA, Tavistock Institute in London and Centre for
Transpersonal Psychology, London. She is closely involved in the Indian banking sector where
she has been conducting training and consulting work in the field of leadership development and
competency assessment for the last ten years.
Dr Snigdha Rai holds a Doctorate in Psychology from the Banaras Hindu University. She has
more than five years of teaching experience in Management Schools. Dr Snigdha has attended
and presented several papers at national conferences. She has also made publications in edited
books and in reputed Indian journals. Dr Snigdha Rai is the corresponding author and can be
contacted at: snigdha.rai@imi.edu

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