THE LEADERSHIP STYLE IN AN ACADEMIC DEPARTMENT AT A SAUDI UNIVERSITY AND ITS EFFECT ON MOTIVATION: A QUALITATIVE PERSPECTIVE
The recognition that leadership style can affect motivation has led to many studies in both business and educational settings across a variety of cultures. This research was undertaken in an educational setting in Saudi Arabia to explore the motivational consequences of different leadership styles by examining leadership practices within an academic department at a Saudi university. A qualitative methodology using interviews as a research tool was applied. The subjects of the study numbered twenty-four participants (faculty members, lecturers, administrators, and students). The findings from the interviews were grouped under four major themes, each with a number of sub-themes: The concept of leadership, styles of leadership, motivation, and the needs of the participants. The first theme was divided into three sub-themes: the differences between leaders and managers, innate or learned leadership, the existence of leadership. The general features of leadership style as a second theme were discussed by all the participants and were classified into seven sub-themes: Lack of participation and dialogue, lack of direction, lack of recognition, inconsistent decisions, ignorance of problems, centralisation and workload. In terms of the third theme, motivation, the majority stated that some factors relating to leadership style depressed them. These factors were divided into three sub-themes: financial, occupational, and participants’ needs. The study found that the style of leadership used in the department can be described as a blend of autocracy and delegation or free reign (laissez-faire leadership); this is representative of executive management rather than real leadership. The evaluation of this combination of styles in the university setting can be used to inform future practice in Saudi universities, to enhance the success of both staff and students.