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Jounud of Sport Management. 1995. 9. J 82-193

® 1995 Human Kinetics Publishers. Inc.

Leadership, Organizational Culture,

and Job Satisfaction in Canadian
YMCA Organizations
Mike Wallace and W. James Weese
University of Windsor
This study wa.s undertaken to investigate the links between transformational
leadership, organizatitxial culture, and employee job satisfaction within the 69
Canadian YMCA organizations. Leadership was measured by the Leadership
Behavior Questionnaire (Sashkin, 1988), organizational culture by the Orga-
nizational Culture .Asses.sment Questionnaire (Sashkin, 1990), and employee
job satisfaction by the Job in General Index (Balzer & Smith, 1990). The
results of a MANOVA and subsequent ANOVA statistical treatments allowed
the researchers to conclude that significant differences in organizational
culture existed between the YMCA organizations led by high transformational
leaders and YMCA organizations led by low transformational leaders. In
addition, the YMCA organizations led by high transformational leaders ad-
ministered organizations that carried out the culture-building activities of
managing change, achieving goals, coordinated teamwork, and customer
orientation to a greater degree than YMCA organizations led by low transfor-
mational leaders. No significant differences in employee job satisfaction
levels existed between the YMCA organizations led by high transfonnational
leaders and those led by low transformational leaders.

Many leadership theorists (Bennis, 1989; Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Kuhnert &
Lewis, 1987, Lord & Maher, 1991; Sashkin, 1988; Tichy & Devanna, 1986;
Yukl, 1989a, 1989b) have pointed to ineffective leadership as the major cause of
declining industrial productivity and a downward positioning of North American
corporations on a global scale. Tichy and Devanna (1986, p. 27) summarized the
pervading perspective when they noted that "corpwjrate leadership is Atnerica's
scarcest tiatural resource." Other theorists (Brown, 1982; Lieberson & O'Connor,
1972; Pettigrew, 1987; Pfeffer, 1977) are more skeptical of the impact leaders
have on an organization. They have suggested that (a) leadership enthusiasts
inflate a leader's impact, and (b) orgatiizations are effective for a host of different
reasons, many of which fall outside the influence of an executive leader.

Mike Wallace and W. James Weese are with the Faculty of Human Kinetics,
University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, Canada N9B 3P4.

Leadership. Organizational Culture, and Job Satisfaction 183

Interest in the study of leadership has been revitalized due to the relatively
recent developments in the transformational leadership area. Yukl defined trans-
formational leadership as "the process of influencing major changes in the
attitudes and assumptions of organizational members and building commitment
for the organization's mission, objectives, and .strategies" (1989a, p. 271). Trans-
formational leaders appeal to their followers' need to feel meaningfully involved
and appreciated (Bennis & Nanus, 1985). They provide followers with a focus
and commensurate levels of support, involvement, and appreciation designed to
encourage the follower to adopt the vision as their own and be committed to
making it a reality (Bryman, 1992). These leaders are purported to inspire follow-
ers to contribute beyond expectations (Bass, 1985; Bennis, 1989; Yammarino &
Bass, 1990; Yukl, 1989a, 1989b). People genuinely hold great regard for this
type of leader and recognize the scareity of this type of leadership (Nanus, 1989).
Participants in workshops staged by the Center for Leadership Studies (SUNY-
Binghamton) often described their ideal leader as someone displaying the charac-
teristics and tendencies commonly associated with transformational leadership
theory (Bass & Avolio, 1990). We believe that the purported theoretical benefits
of transformational leadership would certainly benefit sport management-based
organizations if the theory holds true in these settings. Transformational leadership
was quantitatively measured in this investigation by the Leadership Behavior
Questionnaire (Sashkin, 1988), a valid and reliable instrument designed to mea-
sure both the leader and follower perceptions of transformational leadership in
an organization.
Another area rapidly gaining momentum in the organizational behavior
literature is the area of organizational culture. The concept is defined by most
culture scholars as the deep-rooted beliefs, values, and assumptions widely shared
by organizational members that powerfully shape the identity and behavioral
norms for the group (Denison, 1990; Frost, Moore, Louis, Lundberg, & Martin,
1985; Schein, 1990; Smircich, 1983; Whipp, Rosenfeld, & Pettigrew, 1989).
Most culture theorists believe that executive leaders can ingrain or alter the
culture of an organization and that this culture contributes to organizational
effectiveness (Frost et al., 1985). As with the transformational leadership theory,
the benefits of organizational culture should intrigue leaders in the sport and
recreation area, if the theory holds true for the sport management domain.
Schein (1990) noted that organizational cultures can be analyzed from the
perspectives of culture strength and culture type. Results from studies conducted
in business organizations have led researchers to conclude that strong, positive
cultures have been linked to enhanced staff alignment (Barney, 1986; Wilkins &
Ouchi, 1983), greater consensus toward strategic direction (Pfeffer, 1981), and
increased employee productivity (Martin, 1985; Meyerson & Martin, 1987; Smir-
cich, 1983, 1985). Peters and Waterman's (1982) study of effective business
organizations prompted researchers to conclude that all successful organizations
possess a strong, positive culture. Researchers focusing on the type of culture
suggest that the culture must support activities linked to the mission of the
organization (Feldman, 1986; Golden, 1992). The Organizational Culture A.ssess-
ment Questionnaire (OCAQ) was used in this study. This instrument (Sashkin,
1990) quantitatively measures both the strength of culture and the type of culture
in relation to Parsons' (1960) four functions that relate to success (i.e., managing
184 Wallace and Weese

change, achieving goals, coordinated teamwork, and customer orientation) in

organizations like the YMCA.
The YMCA organizations are mandated to ' 'provide a diverse set of quality
programs designed to promote self-improvement and self-reliance through spiri-
tual, mental, and physical development" (Kaisitner, personal communication,
November 1992). A large workforce, comprised of full-time, part-time, and
volunteer employees is required to deliver such a program. It is virtually impossi-
ble for executive leaders to closely supervise these programs and the staff members
charged with their delivery. Bennis (1989) noted that executive leaders should
not be engaged in the "nuts and bolts" activities anyway. He suggested that
leaders need to lead by focusing on the "big picture" or macro aspects of the
organization. Following this theoretical orientation, executive leaders should
channel their energies on developing a strong organizational culture that supports
the four Parsonian activities that contribute to organizational effectiveness
(Schein, 1990).
Leadership and organizational culture are purported (Sashkin & Sashkin,
1990; Schein, 1986, 1990) to be tightly intertwined concepts. Leaders must have
a deep understanding of the identity mid impact of the organizational culture in
order to communicate and implement new visions and inspire follower commit-
ment to the vision (Sashkin & Fulmer, 1985; Schein, 1990). Schein (1990,
p. 317) reiterated that "the unique and essential function of leadership is the
manipulation of culture."
Some theorists (Miller & Friesen, 1982; Pettigrew, 1979, 1987; Whipp,
Rosenfeld, & Pettigrew, 1989) have offered that ctiltures are so deeply imbedded
and difficult to change that strategic change, not leadership, is the requisite
catalyst. Others (Bryman, 1992; Deal & Kennedy, 1982; Denison, 1990; Hofstede,
Neuijen, Ohayv, & Sanders, 1990; Sashkin & Fulmer, 1985; Schein, 1990) have
argued that leadership is an important element in initiating strategic change
and offer that organizational leaders modify and/or embed the culture of the
organization through their words, behaviors, policies, and reactions to critical
incidents. A crisis provides an excellent opportunity for a leader to "create new
norms, values, and working procedures as well as reveal important underlying
assumptions" (Schein, 1990, p. 92). However, this does not imply that modifying
the culture of an organization is a simple process. Schein (1990, p. 291) noted
that "even when the leadership knows where it wants to go and is open about
it, it takes time and energy to get large numbers of people to hold basic assumptions
about something fundamental."
Employee job satisfaction has a long history as an outcome measure of
leadership studies, dating back to the leader behavior studies of the 1940s and
1950s emerging out of the University of Michigan and The Ohio State University
(Yukl, 1989a). Howell and Higgins (1990, p. 249) offered that "leadership
research has focused on a variety of outcomes such as satisfaction, effectiveness
and performance." Employee satisfaction remains one of the most important and
frequently measured indicators of a leader's impact (Bass, 1990).
Gerhart (1987, p. 366) defined job satisfaction as "a function of what one
wants from one's job and what one perceives it as offering." Job satisfaction is
purported to impact "citizetiship behaviors," which iiKlude prosocial behaviors
like constructive or cooperative gestures that contribute to organizational effec-
tiveness (Kopeland, Brief, & Guzzo, 1990). Leaders of spx)rt and recreation
Leadership. Organizational Culture, and Job Satisfaction 185

programs will be interested in knowing whether the findings from studies set in
business, social service, and military organizations hold true for their environment.
Specifically, the theory suggests that satisfied employees often extend themselves
beyond the "call of duty" to improve organizational functioning (Avery, Abra-
ham, Bouchard, & Segal, 1989; Kopeland et al., 1990). Bass (1981), Hater and
Bass (1988), Howeil and Frost (1989), Howeil and Higgins (1990), and Yukl
and Kanuk (1979) have offered compelling empirical evidence that leaders exhib-
iting the behaviors associated with transformational leadership (e.g., charisma,
genuine concern for employees, involvement in the decision-making processes,
empowering style) have more satisfied followers than other leaders do. Bass
(1990) noted that laissez-faire leadership (nonleadership) negatively impacted
employee job satisfaction and productivity. Donnelly, I>ubinsky, and Skinner
(1985) and Putti and Tong (1992) offered evidence to support the claim that
transformational leaders significantly impact the satisfaction levels of followers.
Transformational leaders focus on people as well as the organization (Bass,
1985; Bennis, 1989; Bums, 1978; Tichy & Devanna, 1986). "Most social scien-
tists and managers agree that leaders have a significant impact on subordinates.
It is frequently argued that employee satisfaction could be improved if leadership
were improved" (Bullock, 1984, p. 7). Gilmore, Beehr, and Richter (1979) stand
in the minority with their opinion that subordinate satisfaction is not affected by
leader behavior. The Job in General Index (JIG), developed by Balzer and Smith
(1990), was designed to quantitatively measure employee satisfaction with their
work environment and was utilized in this research.

Purpose of the Study

This study was undertaken to empirically analyze the litiks between transforma-
tional leadership, organizational culture, and employee job satisfaction in a sport
management context. Although leadership is a popular topic for sport management
scholars (Paton, 1987), few researchers have addressed the area in relation to
organizational culture, despite the suggested importance of culture to organiza-
tional success in business (Deal & Kennedy, 1982; Martin, 1985; Schein, 1990)
and educational (Sashkin & Sashkin, 1990) organizations. In the same vein, sport
management researchers have not extensively focused on the potential linkages
that might exist between executive transformational leadership and employee job
satisfaction. Some research set in business organizations (Bass, 1981; Howeil &
Frost, 1989; Futti & Tong, 1992; Yukl & Kanuk, 1979) have confirmed the link. In
this study, we sought to answer two research questions: (a) Are the organizational
cultures of YMCA organizations led by high transformational leaders significantly
different than the organizational cultures of YMCA organizations led by low
transformational leaders, and (b) are the YMCA employees of high transforma-
tional leaders more satisfied than the YMCA employees of low transformational

Sample and Data Collection Procedures
The population for the study was the 69 Canadian YMCA organizations listed
in the most recent YMCA Personnel Directory (November 1991). Permission to
186 Wallace and Weese

conduct the study was obtained from the President and Chief Executive Officer
of YMCA Canada. A pilot study conducted with the YMCA organizations of
metropolitan Detroit (A' = 17) gave us the opportunity to pretest and validate all
research instruments and study procedures prior to the initiation of the research
The YMCA organizations were appropriate for this research given their
relative homogeneity in mi.ssion, organizational structure, and dispersion through-
out Canada (Kaisimer, personal communication, November 1992). Each YMCA
organization was headed by an on-site CEO who. while operating within the
overall mission and philosophy of the YMCA, was granted the autonomy to
administer his or her respective setting indep)endently and in an entrepreneurial
fashion. CEOs occupied positions that enabled them to influence the culture and
satisfaction levels of employees in their respective settings (Kaisimer, persona!
communication, November 1992).
All YMCA CEOs (N = 69) were forwarded a prestudy letter highlighting
the purpose of the research, the importance of their participation in the study,
and a notice of the forthcoming research package. A Leadership Behavior Ques-
tionnaire (LBQ)-self instrument was forwarded to each CEO to quantitatively
measure the self-perceptions of his or her transformational leadership tendencies.
A sampling of two subordinates, positioned one hierarchical level below the
CEO level and randomly selected from the YMCA Personnel Directory, received
LBQ-other instruments to measure their pereeptions of their CEO's transforma-
tional leadership tendencies. All participants were forwarded their instrument
directly and were instructed to use the enclosed self-addressed, stamped envelope
to facilitate maximal returns. The three leadership measures were averaged to
determine an overall transformational leadership .score for each of the 69 YMCA
CEOs. Bass and Avolio (1990) and Sashkin (1988) both noted that the multiple
measures of the leadership construct (made possible through the self-other ques-
tionnaire) provided a more valid assessment of the leadership situation.
The second phase of the research was initiated after the LBQ scores were
analyzed. High transfotmational {N = 12) and low transformational (N = 12)
leadership groups were statistically created on the basis of the LBQ scores. This
phase of the researeh called for an analysis of the organizational culture and
employee job satisfaction situations exi.sting in each of the 24 organizations.
All staff members listed in the YMCA Fersonrwl Directory from each of
the high and low transformational leadership groups were included in this portion
of the research. Each staff member was provided with (a) a personally addressed,
introductory letter outlining the study, (b) an OCAQ to quantitatively measure
the culture of the organization, (c) a JIG instrument to quantitatively measure
employee job satisfaction, and (d) a self-addressed, stamped envelope. A mini-
mum of four OCAQ and JIG instruments from each organization were required
for inclusion in the data analyses. A three-step nonresponse procedure (i.e.,
reminder fax after 14 days, reminder phone call after 21 days, and elimination
from the study after 30 days) was enacted in both phases of the data collection

A 49.76% response rate was realized for the leadershipdata collection procedures.
In total 29 complete data sets (one LBQ-self and two LBQ-other) were obtained.
Leadership, Organizational Culture, and Job Satisfaction 187

The data were recorded and analyzed using the SPSSx statistical computer pack-
age. All calculated values were tested for significance at the .05 criterion alpha
The 12 organizations with the highest average LBQ scores and the 12
YMCA organizations with the lowest average LBQ scores were included in the
second phase of the research. The middle four organizations were eliminated to
draw a clearer distinction between the high and low leadership groups (? =6.51,
p < .05). The LBQ-self and LBQ-other scores significantly correlated (r = .52,
p < .05).
A MANOVA .statistical treatment was employed to analyze the data for
both research questions. The MANOVA procedure allowed the researchers to
determine if a significant leadership difference existed for (a) the five organiza-
tional culture factors measured by the OCAQ and (b) the satisfaction levels of
employees as measured by the JIG. These results are statistically summarized in
Table I.
Leadership and Organizatioiud Culture
A 58.94% response rate was garnered for the organizational culture measures.
Eighteen (nine high transformational-led organizations and nine low transforma-
tional-led organizations) of the 24 selected YMCA organizations satisfied the
four OCAQ return criteria. The MANOVA (WiIks-Lambda) result indicated that
a significant difference existed between the organizational culture of the high
and low transfonnational groups, f(i,16) = 4.64, p < .05. TTie results of follow-up
ANOVAs uncovered significant differences for each of the four culture building
activities: (a) customer orientation, F(l,16) = 7.12, p < .05; (b) coordinated
teamwork, F(l,16) = 9.20, p < .05; (c) managing change, f(l,16) = 21.42, p <
.05; and (d) achieving goals, F(l,16) = 11.64, p < .05. The poor scale reliability
value of the culture strength measure (Cronbach alpha = .23) prompted us to
remove this specific measure from the analyses.
Leadership and Employee Job Satisfaction
An identical 58.94% response rate was also realized for job satisfaction measures
as measured by the JIG. The results of the MANOVA allowed the re.searchers

Table 1 MANOVA for Leadership and Organizational Culture Components

Activity df Stepdown P Multivariate P P

Managing change 1, 16 21.42* .0003

Achieving goals 1, 16 11.64* .004
Coordinated teamwork 1, 16 9.20* .008
Customer orientation 1, 16 7.12* .017
Culture strength ++ -H- ++
All factors 1, 16 4.64*

Note. *Significant at p < .05.

-H- Unable to measure due to poor internal consistency.
188 WaUace cmd Weese

to conclude that a nonsignificant difference existed between the high and low
transformational leadership groups for employee job satisfaction, f (1,16) = 2.49,
p > .05.

Discussion cmd Implications

Theorists (Bass, 1985; Deal & Kennedy, 1982; Sashkin, 1986; Sashkin & Sashkin,
1990; Schein, 1990; Yukl, 1989a, 1989b) have consistently argued that transfor-
mational leadership and organizational culture are tightly intertwined concepts.
Schein (1990) suggested that the most important aspect of a leader's position is
shaping and preserving the culture of the organization. Theoretically, organiza-
tions led by high transformational leaders should possess stronger, more defined
cultures and engage in the Parsonian culture-building activities to a greater degree
than organizations led by low transformational leaders. A poor culture strength
scale reliability finding did not allow for a precise testing of the first theoretical
proposition; however, the results of the study supported the second portion of
the statement. High transformational leaders oversee organizations that engage
in each of the culture-building activities to a greater degree than organizations
led by low transformational leaders.
Some theorists (Deal & Kennedy, 1982; Denison, 1990; Sashkin, 1986;
Schein, 1990) have noted that managing change is a critical cultural function
that leaders can influence. Change is omnipresent in sport and recreation organiza-
tions such as the YMCA, and creating a culture that pervades the management of
change is paramount to organizational success and survival. The transformational
leader who ensures that staff members deal with change and who uses market
forces to help guide the activities of the organization will be well served (Sashkin,
The creation and penetration of a vision for the organization that can be
ingrained in the culture of the organization is also recognized as an important
aspect of transformational leadership (Bass, 1985; Bennis, 1989; Bennis & Nanus,
1985; Sashkin, 1986; Schein, 1990; Tichy & Devanna, 1986; Yukl, 1989a, 1989b).
The C)C.^Q measured this culture-building function. High transformational lead-
ers were found to lead organizations that engage in the culture-building activity
of attaining goals to a significantly greater degree than the organizations led by
low transformational leaders. Consistent with contemporary leadership theory,
Bennis and Nanus (1985) suggested that individuals and organizations are more
effective when they have (a) a clear image of what they want to achieve, and
(b) the steps required to attain this desired end. Sport and recreation leaders who
orient their staff members toward a desired end and help shape and preserve a
culture grounded in goal attainment are purported to be more effective.
Transformational leaders more effectively align the efforts of staff members
and harmonize their activities in a synergistic fashion (Bass, 1985, 1990; Bass &
Avolio, 1990; Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Sashkin, 1986; Tichy & Devanna, 1986;
Yukl, 1989a, 1989b). Bums (1978) suggested that many organizations lack a
unification of effort. Covey (1991) suggested that competition prevalent within
many organizations has negatively impacted organizaticmal and personal produc-
tivity. He suggested that leaders need to cultivate a coUdwrative orientation. The
results of this study lend support to the theoretical position that transformational
Leadership. Organizational Cultune. and Job Satisfaction 189

leaders positively impact the coordinated teamwork culture-building activity.

Sport and recreation organizations are rarely staffed to full complements and
therefore must rely on the synergistic contributions of staff members working
as a team. Transformational leaders pull staff members together and highlight
the importance of working in harmony toward a desired goal.
The results of this study are consistent with the theoretical positions of
Bass (1985), Bennis and Nanus (1985), Bums (1978), Sashkin (1986), Sashkin
and Sashkin (1990), Tichy and Devanna (1986), and Yukl (1989a, 1989b) who
offered that transformational leaders lead organizations that are oriented to the
wants, needs., and desires of their current and potential clients. An executive
leader of an organization such as the YMCA must ensure that sUff members are
focused on the needs of current and prospective customers. The culture of the
organizations led by high transformational leaders in the YMCA organizations
were more aligned to customer orientation than the cultures of YMCA organiza-
tions led by low transformational leaders. One theoretical consequence of this
finding could be that the culture supports the customer-oriented behaviors and
decisions in these organizations that ultimately contribute to heightened levels
of organizational success and survival.
High transformational leaders are purported to focus on much higher ideals
such as justice, self-actualization, and humanitarianism that contribute to height-
ened levels of employee satisfaction (Bass, 1990). This theoretical proposition,
however, was not supported by the findings of this research. Theorists (e.g.,
Bass, 1985; Bullock, 1984; Bums, 1978; Sashkin, 1986, 1990; Tichy & Devanna,
1986; Yukl, 1989a) have suggested that staff members in organizations led
by high transformational leaders are more satisfied than staff members from
organizations led by low transformational leaders.
An explanation for this finding of nonsupport might rest with the type of
employee attracted to the YMCA organizations. There were uniformly high
levels of employee satisfaction in every YMCA organization, regardless of the
transformational leadership situation in each respective setting. The YMCA orga-
nizations are altruistic organizations that attract staff members with similar orien-
tations (Butterfield, 1990). YMCA organizations are staffed by volunteers and
paid employees who work together to design and implement programs and ser-
vice.s to help their clients and/or enrich their lives.
The Y^MCA organizations attract staff members who are interaction-ori-
ented as opposed to task-oriented (Hallett, personal communication, January
1993). TTie YMCA organizations offer staff members the opportunity to enjoy
their work in a harmonious, interactive work environment. However, YMCA
employees receive low compensation packages and few opportunities to advance
within the system (Hallett, persona] communication, January 1993). Bass (1960,
p. 148) noted that "some members will find satisfaction if and when the group
attains task success; other members will be more satisfied mainly if the group
affords the opportunity to interact harmoniously with others."
A final factor contributing to the uniformly high employee satisfaction
ratings found in all YMCA organizations might be the sampling technique em-
ployed. The JIG instrument was distributed to each staff member listed in the
YMCA Personnel Directory (November 1991). The directory had been in print
for one year prior to conducting the researeh. Staff members would have been
employe! for at least one year and probably much longer. YMCA (Hallett, 1993)
190 Wallace and Weese

intemal research efforts have determined that employees whose longevity extends
beyond two years usually have long careers with the YMCA. These people are
generally satisfied with their position and intend to stay with the YMCA for an
extended period of time. The highest level of employee turtiover occurs in the
first two years of employment with the YMCA (Hallett, personal communication,
January 1993).
In conclusion, the areas of transformational leadership, organizational cul-
ture, and employee job satisfaction continue to provide interesting spon manage-
ment research avenues. The findings of this study support the theoretical
proposition that links transformational leadership and organizational culture. The
findings of this study, however, did not support the prevailing opinions linking
transformational leadership and employee job satisfaction.
Leadership, culture, and job satisfaction are multifaceted concepts that are
difficult to quantify. Additional research in different sport management settings
and employing a qualitative paradigm would provide further insights into the
impact of transformational leadership on organizational culture and employee
job satisfaction. Specifically, experimental research designs in sport management
settings and incorporating the area of strategic change could aid theorists in
understanding the complex process of leaders impacting the beliefs, values, and
satisfaction levels of staff members.

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The authors wish to acknowledge Dr. Trevor Slack for his insightful and helpful
comments on an earlier draft of this article.