Purpose – The purpose of this study is to examine an historical account of an effective leader who was able to draw from multiple styles of leadership, and choose a dominant style based upon contextual constraints and demands context, and subordinate behaviors associated with leadership styles not suited to the context. Design/methodology/approach – To identify his prominent style at each leadership episode, we critically analyzed Nehemiah’s leadership role transitions across 13 chapters of text using sociohistorical method and a quasi-repeated treatment design via qualitative comparative analysis. Findings – We found that Nehemiah adapted his behaviors such that his prominently displayed leadership style varied based on dynamic configurations of demands placed on him during his rebuilding efforts. As Nehemiah progressed through distinct stages of his mission, he differentially emphasized tactics associated with different styles of leadership in response to the contextual demands that were most salient during each stage. Practical implications – Organizational leaders are presented with evidence that developing a broad repertoire of leadership behaviors is essential to guiding followers within dynamic environments. Originality/value – This paper uses a novel historical source material to investigate contemporary leadership concepts grounded in established theoretical frameworks. Using this material, we demonstrate the applicability of various leadership styles within different contexts, and use Nehemiah as an illustration of an effective leader capable of fluidly enacting multiple leadership styles.
Journal of Management History – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 12, 2015