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versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027


CASTRO SOLANO, Alejandro; BECERRA, Luciana  y  LUPANO, María Laura. Leadership prototypes in civilian and military population. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2007, vol.24, n.1, pp.65-94. ISSN 1668-7027.

Leadership can be described as a natural process of influence that occurs between one person -the leader- and their followers. This process can be explained through different factors: the characteristics and leader behaviors, follower's perceptions and attributions, and the context in which this process occurs. The characteristics which are attributed to the leader vary across the context in which he or she is immersed, so the followers privilege some attributes above others. Different leadership prototypes can be found in different social groups because they are highly idiosyncratic. The objectives of this research consisted in identifying, in civilian and military population, leadership internalized prototypes, attributes which are frequently assigned to leaders, and leadership dimensions that are privileged in these contexts. Participants of this study were 488 cadets (90% male, 10% female), which were in different stretches of their military career. 64% (n = 312) of cadets directed other people. They were going through the third and fourth year of their military career. They directed groups of five people approximately. The other cadets (36%, n = 176) did not direct people. On the other hand, 194 civilians participated (37% males, 63% females), all of them directed people and occupied management positions. Data collection was realized in an anonymous and collective way using instruments designed ad-hoc, in which the participants were requested to name a person perceived by them as an effective leader and justify their choice. Moreover, the people would have to indicate, in a list, the attributes which they believed corresponded to the selected leader. These attributes were extracted from a larger list of adjectives which was proved, in transcultural studies, to evaluate the implicit leadership theories of effective leaders (Hanges & Dickson, 2004). In a previous study (Castro Solano, 2006) the four dimensions in which these 16 adjectives are structured were verified using factorial analysis. These dimensions are: charismatic leadership, group's oriented leadership, participative leadership, and self's orientated leadership. An analysis of the obtained answers was realized to verify if differences exist between both contexts. In military context there is preference for leaders who have a political or military background. Civilians show more variety in the selected internalized prototypes, but they selected people from their work contexts. In relation to selected attributes by the interviewed people, civilian participants identified individualistic characteristics with greater frequency, as innovation, talent and attainment of objectives; while the military participants assigned greater importance to the characteristics related to the consideration of the followers -consideration, motivation, abnegation. In the military context, attributes related to group orientation were selected; for example participants selected attributes related to effective resources administration, the solving of problems and appropriate group coordination. On the other hand, military and civilian participants, show a negative attitude towards self orientated leadership. This means that a leader shouldn't lack enough explicitness, shouldn't be poorly sociable, lonely, neither competitive with the members of his group. In summary, the results contribute to show evidences on the existence of significant differences in the attribution of leadership in the general population and the military context. Discrepancy was identified between the internalized prototypes of leadership in both contexts. Some limitations of the study are related to the dissimilar number of civilian and military participants, the unequal proportion of men and women and the great heterogeneity of ages. Future studies should revert these limitations. Furthermore, it can be relevant to verify the influence of contextual variables in the conformation of internalized leadership prototypes, as well as to demonstrate if the major congruence between conceptions of followers and the characteristics of their leaders generate more work satisfaction and efficacy.

Palabras clave : Prototypes; Leadership; Civilians; Military.

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