Labor Productivity: Proposing the Economic Metric as an Empirical Leadership Proxy

Paper accepted for presentation at the global annual conference of the International Leadership Association in West Palm Beach, FL, Oct. 25, 2018.

Abstract: Leadership is inherently difficult to quantify.  Studies have surveyed and observed behavior in all sorts of organizations attempting to understand relationships and causes and effects of leadership styles and outcomes.  As Yammarino (2013) stated, “we have many empirical studies (quantitative, qualitative, and meta-analyses) on leadership, but theory is still ahead of data.” This paper considers industry leadership an aggregated activity and examines labor productivity as a tool to critically compare performances across multiple sectors. The U.S. newspaper industry is discussed as a case study of the data, and the paper asserts that industries struggling with productivity erosion may benefit from new methods for cultivating and recruiting transformational leaders. Leadership development stakeholders are encouraged to consider productivity as an empirical leadership proxy.

Keith Herndon 

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