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Journal of Management Development

Transformational leadership and teamwork improvement: the case of construction firms


Amin Akhavan Tabassi Mahyuddin Ramli Abu Hassan Abu Bakar Abd. Hamid Kadir Pakir

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Amin Akhavan Tabassi Mahyuddin Ramli Abu Hassan Abu Bakar Abd. Hamid Kadir Pakir ,
(2014),"Transformational leadership and teamwork improvement: the case of construction firms", Journal of
Management Development, Vol. 33 Iss 10 pp. 1019 - 1034
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Simon C.H. Chan, W.M. Mak, (2014),"Transformational leadership, pride in being a follower of the leader
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Eliane Bacha, (2014),"The relationship between transformational leadership, task performance and job
characteristics", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 33 Iss 4 pp. 410-420 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/
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Claire Mason, Mark Griffin, Sharon Parker, (2014),"Transformational leadership development: Connecting
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Transformational leadership and


teamwork improvement: the case
of construction firms
Amin Akhavan Tabassi, Mahyuddin Ramli,
Abu Hassan Abu Bakar and Abd. Hamid Kadir Pakir

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School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia,


Penang, Malaysia

Transformational
leadership and
teamwork
improvement
1019
Received 8 January 2012
Revised 12 April 2012
Accepted 10 January 2013

Abstract
Purpose A need for effective leadership and adequate managing the personnel is vital for every
construction organization. Meanwhile, the dynamic and complex environments of the industry may
be caused that not much research has been conducted on leadership practices in the industry.
The purpose of this paper is to study the leadership style of the construction leaders in Iran and
explore the correlation of transformational leadership practices with teamwork improvement in the
construction companies.
Design/methodology/approach The research analysis was completed on a sample population of
107 managers within nominated construction firms in Iran. The analysis methods in this research
were mainly descriptive and regression-based analyses and the type of investigation was a
co-relational study.
Findings The research found the level of the leaders orientation for people and task in their
leadership style, their transformational leadership qualities, and the relationship of transformational
leadership with teamwork improvement in the respondents companies.
Originality/value The study is the first to investigate the leadership style of the construction
leaders in Iran, and weather transformational leadership practices effects on teamwork improvement
in the industry.
Keywords Iran, Construction industry, Leadership style, Teamwork improvement,
Transformational leadership
Paper type Research paper

1. Introduction
Clarifying leadership has been a complicated and difficult phenomenon largely because
of the nature of leadership itself is complicated. In this regard, Burns (1978) claimed
that leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on
earth. Consequently, various definitions of leader and leadership can be observed in
different researchers point of views. For instance, Cole (1996) defines leadership
as a dynamic process in which one individual influences others to contribute to
achievement of the group task. Murphy (1996) defines leaders as people to whom
others turn when missions need to be upheld, breakthroughs made and performance
goals reached on time and within budget. Furthermore, Murphy suggests that leaders
transcend the problems of the moment to reveal the possibilities of human nature
through intelligence and perseverance. Leadership is also observed as an influence
relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that
reflect their shared purposes (Rost and Barker, 2000). Consequently, the term
leadership means different things to different people. Although no ultimate definition
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from Universiti sains Malaysia.

Journal of Management Development


Vol. 33 No. 10, 2014
pp. 1019-1034
r Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0262-1711
DOI 10.1108/JMD-01-2012-0003

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of leadership exists (Yukl, 2002), the majority of definitions of leadership reflect some
basic elements, including group, influence and goal (Bryman, 1992). Despite
these multitudes of ways that leadership has been conceptualized, the following
components can be identified as central to the phenomenon of leadership from the
above definitions:
(1)

leadership is a dynamic process;

(2)

leadership involves influences, intelligence and perseverance;

(3)

leadership occurs within a group context;

(4)

leadership intervenes in personal exploration and development; and

(5)

leadership involves goal attainment on time, within budget, and specific


quality.

Based on the above components, the following definition of leadership is developed


by the study. Leadership is a dynamic process whereby a leader by his intelligence
and perseverance influences a group of subordinates to develop their potential
in order to achieve the organizational goals within certain time, budget and quality.
Therefore, one of the leaders purposes is that transforming the subordinate as well
as influencing them to achieve better performance. In this regard, transformational
leadership as one of the current approaches to the leadership, which has been the
locus of much research since the early 1970s (Burns, 1978; Northouse, 2007;
Purvanova and Bono, 2009), is considered to improve project performance by the
construction managers in this study.
2. Transformational leadership
Transformational leadership is part of the New Leadership paradigm (Bryman, 1992)
and concerned with values, ethics, standards and long-term goals (Harvey et al., 2006;
Moss et al., 2009; Trope and Liberman, 2000). Transformational leadership is also
comprised of appraising motivation of the followers, realizing their needs and desires
(Chan and Chan, 2005), and acting them as fully human beings. In addition, Northouse
(2007) defined transformational leadership as the process whereby an individual joins
with others and creates a connection that elevates the level of motivation and ethics in
both the leader and the follower. These types of leaders are aware of the needs and
desires of subordinates and attempt to assist followers attain their fullest potential.
Moreover, transformational leadership is identified by the ability to bring about
significant changes. In this regard, transformational leaders have the ability to conduct
changes in the organizations strategy, vision, attitude and culture (Muller and Turner,
2010). They are also advanced the creativity and innovation in the products, services
and technologies (Cacioppe, 1997).
In contrast to the transformational leadership, Burns (1978) asserted that the
transactional leadership refers to the bulk of leadership models, which focus on the
exchanges that occur between leaders and their followers. Rather than analyzing
and controlling particular transactions with subordinates using rules, directions and
incentives, transformational leadership leans on intangible objectives such as vision,
shared values and ideas for developing relationships, giving a wide sense to the
individual activities and affording common ground to the followers in change
environments. Accordingly, transformational leadership is mostly based on the
personal morals, values, beliefs and qualities of the leader rather than on an

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exchange process between leaders and followers. Therefore, transformational leader


encourages subordinates to put in an extra effort and to go beyond what the
subordinates expected before (Burns, 1978). The subordinates of transformational
leaders feel trust, admiration, loyalty and respect towards leaders and are motivated
to perform extra-role behaviours (Bass, 1985; Katz and Kahn, 1978). Whereas
transactional leaders elevate stability, transformational leaders make considerable
changes in employees as well as in organizations. Nevertheless, in essence,
transformational leadership creates greater effects than transactional leadership,
especially on more-demanding projects (Muller and Turner, 2010). Transformational
leadership helps followers to transcend their own self-interests for the good at the
group or organization (Bass, 1990).
Three criteria that presented by Daft (2005) were chosen for assessing the
transformational leadership qualities of the leaders of construction firms in this
research. Those criteria are developing followers into leaders, inspiring followers to go
beyond their own self-interest and giving employee empowerment.
3. Leadership studies in construction industry
Construction industry stands for one of the most active, complex and dynamic
environments (Bresnen, 1990; Loosemore et al., 2003; Wild, 2002). These characteristics
of the industry raise interesting managerial issues and present a challenging context
for leadership phenomena (Bresnen, 1990; Fellows et al., 2002). In this regard, a need for
effective leadership and management practices is particularly apparent within the
larger contractors, that the focus is on managing the construction process with a few
directly employed managers and leading teams of outsourced trades contractors
(Druker and White, 1995). Whilst the use of subcontractors has been common in the
industry and allowed contractors to pass on risk and achieve greater flexibility,
it has also made project administration more complex, so more highly skilled and
experienced leadership is required (Druker and White, 1995; Fellows et al., 2002).
Furthermore, the changing requirements of construction works necessitate the
formation and managing of teams each time a new project is awarded (Raiden et al.,
2004; Raiden and Dainty, 2006). Therefore, effective teamwork management and
leadership practices seem vital for every construction organization.
As stated before, although leadership is one of the most important subjects in
management studies, however, many authors have not been able to articulate the idea
of leadership despite the large volume of research and literature on the area (Giritli and
Oraz, 2004; McKenna et al., 2009). Particularly, in the construction industry not
much research has been conducted on leadership phenomena (Rowlinson et al., 1993;
Odusami et al., 2003; Toor and Ofori, 2008). Dulaimi and Langford (1999) argue that
most studies on leadership in the industry concentrate on investigating the personal
characteristics of project managers. Few studies focus on quality of transformational
leadership in the industry. Even though, altering the environment of the industry and
increasing the importance of human resources (HRs) in construction management
practices, some researchers have shown more interest on leadership qualities during
the last few years (Toor and Ofori, 2008; Limsila and Ogunlana, 2008). For instance,
Limsila and Ogunlana (2008) in their research on Thailands construction companies
showed the correlation between leadership behaviours of the leaders and project
work performance. Accordingly, they revealed that work quality shows a positive
significant relationship with inspirational motivation and idealized influence in
the transformational leadership style. In addition, Enshassi and Burgess (1991),

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in the study on Middle East construction site managers, show that there is a strong
relationship between leadership styles of construction site managers and their
employees performance. They concluded that high in both task and employee
orientation is the most effective style in managing multi-cultural workforces. Odusami
et al. (2003) in their study on the relationship between project leadership, team
composition and construction project performance in Nigeria concluded that there was
a significant relationship between the project leaders professional qualification, his
leadership style, team composition and overall project performance. On the other hand,
with increased emphasis on project management systems, Dulaimi (2005) asserts that
construction firms are now seeking professionals with better management and
leadership skills rather than technical skills. Moreover, Tabassi and Bakar (2009)
declare that the cause of the most of construction projects deficiencies can often be
traced to the project managers or leaders. Some of the project managers or the leaders
may have insufficient competencies, and their traits may not adapt to the nature of
their works. They may also employ inappropriate leadership styles in dealing with
subordinates in construction projects.
In addition, some research has been conducted on the roles and effects of project
managers and site managers on the quality and success of construction projects
(Arain, 2007; Murphy and Ledwith, 2007). Consequently, leadership research has
gained increasing importance in construction management since it can have much
effect on work performance and impact on project outcomes (Enshassi and Burgess,
1991; Limsila and Ogunlana, 2008; Toor and Ofori, 2008). Thus, appropriate leadership
behaviour can shape subordinates performance in a desirable way and facilitate
construction projects to run smoothly. In this regard, less attention has been paid
to transformational leadership practices and the effects on performance of the
construction projects by practitioners. As stated before, the project teams formed the
focus of working life in the industry. Accordingly, policies and practices that applied
by the companies in order to improve teamwork activities can influence on the
performance of their projects. Furthermore, a lack of any potential research in
transformational leadership and teamwork activities in Iranian construction industry
made the authors more interested to pursue this research.
4. Teamwork improvements as the ultimate outcome variable of the research
A high performance workplace focuses on increasing peoples influence on the
business as well as the impact of processes, methods, the physical environment,
technology and tools that enhance their work (Ahadzie et al., 2008). It has also invested
in its HRs and supports their technical and innovation skills. In case of construction
industry, as mentioned earlier, most of the activities perform within the various types
of the teams. Therefore, the changing requirements of construction activities
necessitate the companies to form different teams each time a new project is committed
(Raiden and Dainty, 2006). Accordingly, companies practices in improving the
teamwork activities may effect on the performance of their projects.
For some, the topic of teamwork in organizations is of only peripheral concern.
However, it is worth noting Blanchards (1988) comments: most managers spend no
o50 per cent and possibly as much as 90 per cent of their working time in some
type of teamwork activity. Teams are the backbone of organizations. They can produce
more and better solutions to problems than individuals can. In addition, a distinctive
feature of teamwork at the construction line is successive work actions to assemble
different parts of a product and/or service. Accordingly, teamwork improvement

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causes quality performance in companys activities as a whole (Mitropoulos and


Cupido, 2009; OLeary-Kelly et al., 1994). Different factors have also influenced on
a companys teamwork improvement. In this, transformational leadership has
considered as an indicator that impacts on teamwork improvements and caused better
projects performance. Furthermore, teamwork improvements and transformational
leadership have not been widely researched (Bass et al., 2003; Dionne et al., 2004),
particularly in the construction industry. Based on these variables, the research
theoretical framework can be generated as below.

Transformational
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5. Theoretical framework
The theoretical framework for this research considered variables that clarified through
the previous sections. Those variables were teamwork improvement as the dependent
variable (DV) and transformational leadership indicators as independent variables
(IVs). The IVs of the study included of developing followers into leaders, inspiring
followers to go beyond their own self-interest and giving employee empowerment.
Accordingly, the model evaluated the relationship of transformational leadership
practices on teamwork activities of the construction projects. As a result, Figure 1
depicts the theoretical framework of the study.
6. Construction industry of Iran
To put construction industry of Iran in the context, the following section summarizes
some of the key factors relevant to the industry.
According to the report of Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MHUD) of
the country (Iran Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Government Information
Services, 2008), the construction industry employs more than 11 per cent of the working
population. Therefore, approximately two millions have been involved in
the industry and over the past decade, nearly 40 per cent of total annual investment
was also been in this sector. In case of housing territory, the industry has particular
characteristics. There is greatly competitive market; private-sector developers dominate
the industry, which is chock-full of firms, developers and specialist service companies
(Chatterton et al. 2004). Consequently, research on leadership practices and particularly
on transformational leadership in this highly rival market can draw a future plan for
effective performance for both the companies and government. On the other hand, the
previous research, which was conducted by Tabassi and Bakar (2009), revealed that
the lack of skilled and motivated workforces in the industry caused nearly 92 per cent
of the companies faced with various damages in their projects. Therefore, a need to apply
effective leadership quality for developing, motivating and transforming the HRs to
achieve better teamwork activities seems vital for the construction industry of Iran.
Furthermore, less attention has been given to leadership phenomena, particularly the
quality of transformational leadership practices, in construction firms of Iran by
Theoretical Framework

Transformational
Leadership

Teamwork
Improvement

IV

DV

Figure 1.
Diagram showing the
theoretical relationship
of independent (IV) and
dependent variables (DV)

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researchers and practitioners. Hence, due to the shortfalls and a lack of potential study, in
this, the research proceeds with the following objectives:
(1)

to assess the leadership style and transformational leadership qualities of the


leaders of construction firms in Iran; and

(2)

to study the relationship between transformational leadership practices and


teamwork improvement of the construction projects.

1024

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7. Methodology
A quantitative research approach of developing and disseminating a questionnaire
survey was used because of the large number of companies, which were chosen for this
research (220), and difficulty of in person interviewing. In addition, as the main
targeted respondents would include all personnel who have direct managerial positions
in the construction field. The respondents of the research were approached through
companies, which were registered as contractor firms in the Management and
Planning Organization (MPO) of Iran. Accordingly, as of the date of data collection, 356
companies were registered as contractor firms in Grade 1 and Grade 2 by the MPO of
the country. According to the MPO, the contractor companies are ranking in five
grades from one to five. Grade 1 is the largest and Grade 5 is the smallest companys
grade. Companies are ranked by the standard rules and regulations of the MPO. Those
criteria for ranking the contractor firms are as follows:
(1)

experience and expertise;

(2)

financial capacity;

(3)

track record and performance; and

(4)

personnel resources.

The formula used to grade the companies is given as:


S Ce  0:3E 0:5P Formula 1
where S is competency, Ce is evaluation coefficients, E is the score for the level of
experience, expertise, personnel resources, track record and performance of the
company and finally, P is the score given for financial capacity of the company. Table I
indicates the ranking of the contractor companies according to the MPO regulation,
criteria and formula.
As mentioned previously, the aims of this research were finding the quality of
transformational leadership and its relationship with teamwork improvements in

Grade
Table I.
Ranking of the contractor
companies according to
the MPO regulation,
criteria and formula

1
2
3
4
5

Maximum contract
price (million rials)

Personal
resources

40,000
25,000
10,000
5,000
1,500

3,000
1,800
1,200
750
375

Minimum essential qualifications scores


Tract record, performance,
Financial Competency
and experiences
assets
(S)
5,000
2,500
1,000
500

10,000
6,000
3,500
1,600

7,400
4,290
2,410
1,175
112

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contractor companies; therefore, the scope of the study can cover the large companies
that most probably applied the leadership practices by their leaders. Furthermore,
a pilot survey was conducted in Khorasan state of Iran and revealed that most of the
companies in Grade 3 and below did not apply the leadership practices properly.
As a result, the survey was conducted by sending 220 sets of questionnaires to the group
of respondents at random by postal mailing and e-mailing for a period of three months.
After that period, 107 sets (48.6 per cent) of survey questionnaires were returned and
useable. Regarding minimum returned sample size for a given population size for
continuous and categorical data that presented by Bartlett et al. (2001), a minimum of
88 sets of samples must be earned from this population size of the study. Therefore, the
numbers of respondents who replied to the questionnaires were more than the minimum
needed returned sample size. After all the primary data were collected and processed,
those data were analysed according to the appropriate analysis methods. Analyses of
data were based on frequency, co-relational and regression studies. The analysis of the
survey results made use of SPSS and AMOS software. Accordingly, the findings of data
analysis are soundly discussed through the next part.
8. Data analysis and discussions
Most construction companies depend heavily on HRs, which are working there.
Various types of HRs work in construction projects; therefore, a need for effective
leadership and adequate managing the personnel is vital for every construction
organization. As stated before, the leadership styles of the leaders as well as their
transformational leadership practices can make constructive impacts on the
companies performances. However, evaluation of transformational leadership
qualities of the construction leaders has not been considered effectively by Iranian
researchers. Thus, it seems necessary to conduct this research in the country.
Regarding the large extent of construction firms in Iran, the research was conducted
based on collected information from the nominated contractors. Discussions regarding
the research findings are carried out as mentioned above.
First of all, the study describes the respondents occupations and organizational
background; since all analyses were based on their qualifications. The responsibility
of the respondents revealed that 35.5 per cent of them were company managers,
40.2 per cent were the project managers, and executive manager by 24.3 per cent
formed the other group. Accordingly, this research was targeted top management
levels in the largest grade companies. The respondents background indicates that
nearly 60 per cent of them were more than 40 years old and 86.9 per cent were male.
According to Figure 2, the level of their experiences in construction industry shows
that 35.5 per cent had 11-15 years experience and 48.6 per cent of them were more than
15 years involved in the industry. In addition, 95.3 per cent of the respondents were
private contractors (49.5 per cent were registered as Grade 1 and 50.5 per cent were in
Grade 2). As shown by the results, most of the respondents in this study had enough
experiences and directly related to management strategies in their companies.
Therefore, their responses and ideas make strong effects on the results of the study and
confirm the trustworthiness of the research. Additionally, the research was revealed
that the management of the industry is mostly male dominated.
8.1 Research objective one
To assess the leadership style and transformational leadership qualities of the leaders of
construction firms in Iran. An assessment of leadership style of the leaders was also

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Experience
50%
45%

1026

40%
35%
30%
25%

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20%
15%
10%
5%

Figure 2.
Level of respondents
experience

0%
Less than
5 years

510 years

1115
years

More than
15 years

considered as one of the objectives of the research. Therefore, one section of


the questionnaire was assigned to evaluate the leadership style of the leaders by
standard questions, which were gathered from Daft (2005) and Northouse (2007).
Those questions in five Likert scales, from strongly disagreeing until strongly
agreeing, related to the leaders orientation for the task and/or people were led to assess
the leadership style of the leaders. The mean of the respondents answers to the task
orientation questions was 4.05 out of 5 (strongly agree). In contrast, the mean of people
or relationship orientations was 3.9 out of 5. Accordingly, it shows a high task and
rather a great extent of relationship orientations was found in the respondents
leadership style. Regarding the leadership grid (Blake and Mouton, 1964), team
management was observed as leadership style that was applied by most of the
respondents in this research. Team management is often considered as the most
effective style and suggested because employees of the construction organizations
mostly work together to fulfil the tasks. In this, Yukl et al. (2002) in their research
asserted that these two dimensions are the most important behaviours of leadership.
Their review of 50 years of leadership research identified task-oriented behaviour
and people-oriented behaviour as primary categories related to effective leadership in
numerous studies. Furthermore, it has indicated that the leaders alternate the type of
behaviour from one to another, showing concern on people one time and task initiating
another time. According to Hersey and Blanchards (1974) situational theory,
subordinates are differing in level of readiness. Employees in low level of task
readiness, because of little ability, skill or training, and insecurity, need a different
leadership style than those who are high in readiness and have good ability, skills,
confidence and willingness to work. According to this theory, a leader can adopt one of
the four directing, coaching, supporting and delegating leadership styles, based on
a combination of task and relationship behaviours. Moreover, Northouse (2007) states
that effective leaders are those who can change their own style based on the task

requirements and the subordinates needs, even in the middle of a project. Regarding
the leadership grid (Blake and Mouton, 1964) and contingency theories (Yukl et al.,
2002), appropriate leadership styles should be adapted according to the following
situations for the construction leaders of Iran:

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(1)

Low level of readiness: general labour are mostly at a low level of readiness
because of inadequate competency, education and skills. Therefore, the leader
has to be very specific and directive, telling them exactly what to do, how to do
it and when. As a result, a directing or telling style can be adapted.

(2)

Moderate level of readiness: a coaching leadership style works well when


followers are at a moderate level of readiness. According to the authors
experiences in construction industry of Iran, for instance, many of the masons,
welders and steel workers are at the moderate level of education and
experience in their job, but they demonstrate high confidence and willingness
to learn. Therefore, the leaders by a coaching style not only give them some
directions but also seek input from others and clarify tasks for the followers
rather than merely instructing that the tasks be performed.

(3)

High level of readiness: when followers are at a high level of readiness,


a supporting style was suggested by Yukl et al. (2002). By using a supportive
style, the leader can lead the development of followers and act as a source of
advice and assistance. In the case of beginner supervisors or operating
engineers, they are at a high level of education and skills, but they might be
unconfident in their competence and need a supportive style from the leader.

(4)

Very high level of readiness: when subordinates have very high level of
education, experience, skills and readiness to take responsibility for their own
job behaviour the delegating style of leadership can be effective. This style
can be adapted for experienced operating engineers, supervisors and other
workforces with high skills and enough experience in the construction industry.

In line with the literature review in transformational leadership, a section of the


questionnaire was assigned to evaluate the leaders transformational leadership
qualities. Those questions were adopted from the standard questions that presented by
Daft (2005) in three categories: developing followers into leaders, inspiring followers to
go beyond their own self-interest and giving employee empowerment.
For the dimension of developing followers into leaders, Daft suggests that a score of
24 or above (up to 30) on this dimension is considered high because many leaders do
not practice transformational skills in their leadership or group works. A score of 18 is
about average, and a score of 12 or below would be below average. The result shows
that the average for developing followers into leaders in the respondents answers was
24.17. Therefore, the respondents demonstrated a high level of developing followers to
leaders. Accordingly, followers were given greater freedom to control their own
behaviour. The leaders brought together their employees around the companies
mission and defined the boundaries within which followers can operate in relative
freedom to accomplish organizational tasks. Furthermore, the leaders made the
followers aware of problems and issues and help them look at things in new ways
so that change in productivity can be realized. For inspiring followers to go beyond
their own self-interests, similarly, a score of 24 or more was also suggested as high
transformational leadership qualities. From the survey results, the average of the

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respondents answers to the questions of motivating followers to go beyond their


self-interests for the good at the group was 24.85. Therefore, a great consideration of
motivating employees to do more than originally was expected of them was observed
in transformational leadership styles of the leaders. They made followers aware of the
value of change objectives and outcomes and in turn, enable them to transcend their
own current interests for achieving the organizational goals. Finally, an assessment of
giving employees empowerment through the leaders transformational leadership
style was conducted in the questionnaire. Accordingly, the outcome was obtained from
the respondents answers to the questions shows that the mean of their replies was
nearly 27.5. According to Daft, if the score is 28 or above, the employee probably feels
empowered in the job. The score of 14 or below indicates that they likely do not feel
empowerment. Thus, the score was near to 28 and denotes that most of the leaders in
this research probably empowered their employees in their jobs.
To sum up, the results indicate that high task and almost high relationship orientation
in leadership style of the leaders were observed. In addition, high transformational
leadership qualities demonstrated by the respondents in their companies. Therefore,
it is approved that the transformational leadership is more adopted and applied than
a transactional leadership by the construction leaders in Iran.
8.2 Research objective two
To study the relationship between transformational leadership practices and teamwork
improvement of the construction projects. According to the theoretical framework
(Figure 1), the research model evaluates the relationship between transformational
leadership practices (IVs) and teamwork improvement as the DV of the study.
Consequently, the model should be tested with an appropriate analysis method. The
analysis method used for modelling and evaluating the variables was regression
analysis. In statistics, regression analysis refers to techniques for modelling and
analyzing several variables, when the focus is on the relationship between a DV and
one or more IVs (Tabachnick and Fidell, 2001). Therefore, the regression analysis was
used to determine what proportion of the variance in teamwork improvement was
explained by transformational leadership parameters when these items were entered
into the regression analysis in a certain order.
Regression analysis for the model was done through AMOS 16 software. According
to Figure 3, the outputs generated from the analysis show that the R2 for the model is
0.62 and the Significant value is 0.00 (Sig.o0.05). Therefore, the model as a whole
explains nearly 62 per cent of the variance in teamwork improvement. Concerning the
statistics books such as Pallant (2005) and Tabachnick and Fidell (2001), the R2 equals
to 0.62 is a respectable result. Consequently, teamwork improvement showed a strong
relationship with IVs in the model. Thus, it is approved that the transformational
leadership practices have a sound effect on teamwork improvement in the respondents
companies.
On the other hand, to assess the statistical significance of the result it is also
necessary to look in the results of Table II. According to the table, CMIN/DF for the
model is 3.239 (o5), CFI is 0.845 and nearly to 0.9, p is 0.000 (o0.05), and RMSEA is
0.078 (o0.08). Therefore, the model as a whole is significant and could be considered
as a good model.
Furthermore, regression analysis is very sensitive to outliers (very high or very low
scores). According to Tabachnick and Fidell (2001), the presence of outliers can be
detected from the Scatterplot. Tabachnik and Fidell define outliers as cases that have

Transformational
leadership and
teamwork
improvement

0.57
e6

C57

e5

C55

e4

C53

e3

C51

e2

C49

e1

C47

0.33
0.75
0.58
0.77
0.90

0.59
0.81
0.820.90
0.89
0.78

Developing Followers
to Leaders

0.06

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0.72
e7

C48

e8

C50

e9

C52

e10

C54

e11

C56

e12

C58

0.81

0.85
0.90
0.38

0.14

1029
0.81

0.62
0.79

Inspiring Followers

0.850.92
0.88
0.770.71

e20

0.51
0.06

0.79

0.77
e19

C65

e18

C64

e17

C63

e16

C62

e15

C61

e14

C60

e13

C59

Model
Default model

Teamwork
0.80

0.81
0.88
0.90
0.80
0.81

0.63
0.66

Figure 3.
Model generated by
AMOS for assessing the
relationships between IV,
MV and DV1

Empowering
Followers

0.44 0.66
0.86
0.73 0.88
0.78

NPAR

CMIN

62

544.175

Model fit summary


DF
p
168

0.000

CMIN/DF

CFI

RMSEA

3.239

0.845

0.078

been standardized residual of more than 3.3 or o3.3. In addition, with large sample it
is not uncommon to find a number of outlying residuals and may not be necessary to
take any action. The Scatterplot for this model shows in Figure 4. According to the
plot, there was no outlier found in the model. Moreover, the residuals were roughly
concentrated in the centre.
As a result, transformational leadership parameters such as developing followers
into leaders, inspiring followers to go beyond their own self-interest and giving
employee empowerment had strong effects on teamwork activities in the respondents
firms. In other words, the leaders by developing followers into leaders, inspiring
followers to go beyond their own self-interest and giving employee empowerment
caused high improvement in their teamwork activities. Hence, better performance
and improvement teamwork activities can be achieved to the construction companies
by adopting the transformational leadership practices. This result of the study is
inconsistent with the findings of some recent studies regarding whether the
transformational leadership approach has a unique impact on teamwork improvement.
For instance, this finding is in agreement with the assumption of Dionne et al. (2004),
which were stated that transformational leadership may serve to improve teamwork

Table II.
Model fit summary
for the research model

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Figure 4.
Scatterplot for the
research model

3
Regression Standardized Residual

1030

Scatterplot
Dependent Variable: Teamwork

2
1
0
1
2
3
3

Regression Standardized Predicted Value

process and further achievement of team goals and strategies. In addition, the results
of 108 teams in a lagged design Chinas telecommunication industry suggest
that transformational leadership may help team members to improve their work
assignments (Zhang et al., 2011). In another study, Doeringer et al. (2003) conclude that
the most commonly adopted style practices of Japanese multinational firms in the west
in teamwork and quality circles are those that related most directly to transformational
leadership interests of the leaders. Accordingly, transformational leadership has been
also considered as effective contributor in team coordination and thereby to teamwork
improvement by other researchers.
9. Findings and conclusions
Regarding the nature of the construction industry, the sector is considered as one
of the most dynamic and complex industrial environments by researchers as well as
the practitioners. Consequently, the industry presents a challenging environment
for the effective management and leadership due to these dynamic and fast changing
organizational, project and skill requirements. Therefore, it seems leaders who are
displaying leadership behaviours such as company managers, executives and project
managers can increase the level of satisfaction of subordinates by applying proper
leadership styles as well as transformational leadership qualities. It may also bring
about performance improvements in their companies. In this regard, creating a peopleoriented strategy as well as a task-oriented strategy for the business sponsored by
hiring the right people and managing them well is essential to the success of
construction organization. Moreover, efficacious performance and remarkable work
outcomes from employees are always desirable, but they do not always happen. People
normally respond well only to appropriate styles and types of leadership. The best
style would lead them to work effectively. However, there is no one best style of
leadership; and leaders should be flexible and match their style with the requirements
of the different situation.
The previous studies, which were conducted by Rowlinson et al. (1993) and Walker
and Kalinowski (1994), revealed that a low task and high relationship attitude were
appropriate leadership style in Hong Kong construction industry. In contrast, the
results of the current study show a high task and almost high relationship was more
adapted and applied by the Iranian construction managers as another Asian country.

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As a result, the findings indicate that it is not accepted to assert low task and high
relationship attitude as the leadership style in Asias construction industry, which was
claimed by Muller and Turner (2010). Therefore, more research is needed in other Asia
regions and makes comparisons with the results of existing studies to find and
conclude the most probable leadership style in Asian construction industries.
It has also concluded that the appropriate leadership style should be adopted
according to the situations and level of readiness of subordinates in construction
companies. In addition, the results of transformational leadership quality indicated on
almost high attention to the concerns and development of subordinates by the
transformational leaders. The leaders influence their members attitude by developing,
inspiring and empowering them to exert extra effort to achieve the goals of the group.
The study revealed that almost high transformational leadership qualities in developing
followers into leaders, inspiring followers to go beyond their own self-interest and giving
employee empowerment, which have presented as criteria of transformational leadership
qualities by Daft (2005), were observed in the leadership style of the leaders. As a result,
it emphasises on transformational leadership style as the most applied style by leaders of
construction companies in Iran. Therefore, transformational leadership is more acquired
than transactional leadership by the Iranian construction managers.
Moreover, the nature of the industry, changing requirements of construction
works and the complexity of most of the processes in a construction organization places
them beyond the control of any one individual, and the only efficient way to tackle
process improvement or re-design is through the use of teamwork. Accordingly, effective
leaders are those who could ensure their teams are working cohesively and receiving the
supports they require in satisfying their personal needs to operate effectively.
This research also adds to the studies that identify team activities induced by
transformational leadership can affect teamwork improvement (Dionne et al., 2004;
Doeringer et al., 2003; Zhang et al., 2011). In this regard, the research generated the
model in order to assess the relationship and effects of transformational leadership
on teamwork improvement in construction firms. According to the results, the
transformational leadership factors in the model have shown the high contribution on
teamwork improvements of the companies. That is to say, teamwork activities in the
companies that adopted the transformational leadership practices for developing,
inspiring and empowering their staff and workforces much better than the companies did
not employ them in their firms. Therefore, the construction companies, by applying the
transformational leadership practices, can improve their teamwork activities and obtain
better performances. The studys subjects were 107 leaders of large grade construction
firms of Iran and the corresponding management teams under their leadership. Our
results suggest that the transformational leadership approach contributes to team
activities and thereby to teamwork improvement. Results support the argument that
transformational leaders promote teamwork performance by developing followers into
leaders, inspiring followers to go beyond their own self-interest and giving employee
empowerment. To the extent that leaders are transformational, teamwork activities were
found to improve by effective team management and subsequent team performance.
Therefore, this study helps integrate recent advances in transformational leadership and
teamwork practices.
10. Research limitations and future study
The current study has some limitations that offer a direction for future research. Data
limited to Irans construction industry only, may not be applicable to other countries.

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More research is needed to see how true the findings of this research are in other
countries. Another limitation is the exclusive focus on large grade construction
companies in Iran. Perhaps some different viewpoints might be found in other
respondents such as from lower grade companies, construction employees, engineers,
etc. Furthermore, a qualitative research approach might be conducted within the
construction teams in order to evaluate and compare the quality of transformational
leadership and teamwork practices with the results of the current study. However, the
focus on teamwork activities within the same company has also excluded the potential
influence of external industry and firm factors and has enabled us to investigate the
effects of transformational leadership on teamwork outcomes directly. As the purpose
of this study was to link transformational leadership with teamwork improvement,
the surrender in terms of external validity might increase the internal validity of
the findings. Accordingly, future research should also try to address how external
industry, firms, and government factors can affect the relationship of transformational
leadership and teamwork within the industry, and then a comparison can be made.
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Corresponding author
Dr Amin Akhavan Tabassi can be contacted at: akhavan.ta@gmail.com
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