The Influence of Self-Efficacy on the Leadership Effectiveness of Corporate Managers

Original Review

The Influence of Self-Efficacy on the Leadership Effectiveness of Corporate Managers

Corresponding author: Da Costa A, University of Maryland University College, 625 Liberty Hill Pass Dr

Morrisville NC, 27560,USA . E-mail:


Leadership is a key component of organizational success as it provides the opportunity to maximize shareholders wealth through reaching desired goals. When ineffective leadership exists within an organization this can be costly due to wasted resources and can affect productivity. This systematic review will investigate if leadership attributes and self-efficacy characteristics result in more effective leaders, that can perform their tasks effectively, ultimately leading to organizational success. The findings of the case study suggest that leadership attributes related to task-related competencies (leadership performance) were shown to be the best predictor of leadership effectiveness and self–efficacy. These findings are optimally beneficial to an organization as this can correlate to effective leaders being selected during the hiring process, possibly eliminating leadership derailment. The significance of this research will allow organizations to find consistent leadership to not only increase productivity but to ultimately hire and retain leaders that are top performers


Traditionally many employers use interview results, resumes, and previous leadership accolades as selection criteria to determine if a leader would be hired and effective within in the organization. In some instances it is determined that the leader was not the right fit for the organization, this results in lost productivity, poor morale, and wasted resources to replace the hire. Many companies are hiring leaders that are not as effective as they could be at leading, and leadership attributes are not taken into consideration when hiring these leaders. The need to implement how to identify leadership attributes during the hiring process to determine how they align with company goals, is essential to success within a company. Weak leadership in an organization can diminish productivity and can hinder organizational growth, leaving a stagnant organizational culture where mediocrity may ensue. It is beneficial for an organization to hire strong leaders that embody the concept of cultivating a salient workforce, while supporting robust strategic goals of the future. When an organization understands the benefits of selecting efficacious leaders, this may produce highly favorable results. Research shows that leadership and self-efficacy are connected, and are linked to performance outcomes. This systematic review will investigate if leadership attributes and self-efficacy characteristics can result in effective leadership and higher performance levels. This is important to practitioners as there is an ongoing need to prevent leadership failure within an organization.

Literature Background

Self-Efficacy: Self-efficacy is how an individual view their personal abilities regarding how well they can perform a task, thinks, behaves, and how motivated they are to achieve goals, and is a useful measurement used to predict behavioral outcomes when compared to other constructs related to motivation [1] .Self-efficacy is derived from four main sources: mastery experiences, physiological and emotional stresses, vicarious experiences, and social persuasion (Bandura, 1994, p. 32). These components collectively determine how efficacious an individual is and how likely they will successfully complete a task. Research based on the self-efficacy theory has found that personal efficacy influences the goals people choose, their aspirations, how much effort they will exert on a given task, and how long they will persist in the face of difficulties, obstacles and disappointments [2]. Over the last two decades, research findings have demonstrated a consistent relationship between self-efficacy and work-related performance .[3]

Leadership: Leaders are visionaries and have the ability to envision the future and interestingly, the consensus regarding leadership conducted by scholars appears to be that there is no agreed upon definition of leadership however, common themes can be identified among the many different definitions that have been proposed [4].  Leadership can be described as a process of social interaction where the leader’s ability to influence the behavior of followers can strongly influence performance outcomes [5].

Theoretical and Conceptual Framework

[6] conceptualized leadership as either transactional or transformational in which Burns asserts that, “transformational leadership places an emphasis on intrinsic motivation and on the positive development of followers, which represents a more appealing view of leadership. Burns further asserted that transactional leadership is a seemingly

“cold,” social exchange process, and that transformational leadership is the most efficacious leadership for the success of an organization (Sun, J., Chen, X., & Zhang, S. 2017 p.15) (Figure1) illustrates the transformational leadership theory and the constructs that make up the conceptual framework.

Figure 1: Transformational Leadership Theory. Adapted from “Transformational Leadership

in Nursing”. in Nursing”.

The four components are:

  1. intellectual stimulation which encourages creativity among followers.
  2. individualized consideration where leaders offer support and encouragement to individual followers.
  3. inspirational motivation which allows leaders the ability to articulate vision, and motivate followers to achieve common goals.
  4. idealized influence which enables leaders to serve as role models for followers to lead to success [7].

The conceptual model enables the positive relationship between transformational leadership and self-efficacy to be identified, while highlighting the leader follower relationship. Subordinates appear to play a significant role in self-efficacy and effectiveness in leadership.

Transformational leadership theory is comprised of characteristics that help followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to individual followers’ needs by empowering them and by aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organization [8].Applying the transformational leadership theory to this research suggests that implementing this theory to enhance effective leadership would likely result in stimulating and enhancing leaders’ strengths, while identifying individual needs of employees which enhance company goals. Similar to the transformational leadership, charismatic leadership relies on the ability of the leader to influence and inspire followers while motivating the individual to be better and to work for the greater good of an organization.

Derived by Max Weber, charismatic leadership has three core components: envisioning, empathy, and empowerment, which derives from the charisma of the leader [9] .is a plausible alternative theory as transformational leaderships possess charisma, and charismatic leadership is a theory that would result in leadership effectiveness, due to the amount of motivation and ability to drive employees to produce at high levels. In sum, both theories have similar constructs and leadership attributes that a leader must possess to lead an organization.

Research Question: How does a corporate manager’s self-efficacy influence greater leadership effectiveness and performance outcomes?

This research question was developed to investigate the need for managers to hire highly efficacious leaders which ultimately improve organizational performance. Transformational leaders that possess self- efficacy can cultivate similar attributes within their subordinates due to the charisma and influence that they possess, determining how self-efficacy can lead to effective leadership is significant for the future of any organization.

The following propositions were developed to effectively answer the research question:

 P1: Leadership attributes and self-efficacy will be positively associated with leadership effectiveness in managers.

P2: Leaders with high self-efficacy levels will exhibit higher achievement, motivation, and performance (leadership effectiveness) than leaders with low efficacy.


This paper follows a rapid evidence assessment (REA) as outlined by CEBMa Guidelines for Rapid Evidence Assessments in Management and Organizations [9].  A REA provides a comprehensive balanced assessment of what is known (and not known) in the scientific literature about an intervention, problem, or practical issue, by using systematic methodology to search and critically appraise empirical studies. A REA is the most widely used method of reviewing the scientific literature within evidence-based management. After the REA, a systematic review was conducted to create a reliable and comprehensive statement about what works and involved identifying, synthesizing, and assessing all available evidence, quantitative and qualitative, in order to generate a robust, empirically derived answer to a focused research question.

Below are steps used to effectively conduct a systematic review and to fully answer the research question:

  1. PICOC: Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome, and Context was used to help develop a search strategy for finding
  2. Search Strategy: Utilized search strings to determine inclusion/exclusion criteria for use in searching
  3. Study Selection: PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta- Analyses) was utilized. The PRISMA chart is located in (Appendix B).
  4. Critical Appraisal process: Quality Appraisal Chart was used to rate the quality of each article. Located in (Appendix A).
  5. Data Extraction: Relevant review articles were identified and indicated the quality of the source.

This method section includes: scoping of literature, search processes, selection and document appraisals, and both analysis and synthesis processes.

Scoping of Literature

The literature search process involved the following search strings:

Search 1: (self-esteem OR self-efficacy OR “self -esteem” OR “self-efficacy”) AND “leadership

style*”= 268. This search included limiters: search date: 10- 18-2018, Full Text, Scholarly Journals and dates: 2008-2018.

Search 2: (self-esteem OR self-efficacy OR “self-esteem” OR “self-efficacy”) AND “leadership style*”= 498. It should be noted that a subsequent search with the same search strings were conducted, as the initial date range did not provide enough relevant literature. This search resulted in a total of 498 articles. After the removal of duplicates, 276 were scanned on title and abstract. After rigorous and further extraction, 20 articles remained for full review, which were analyzed resulting in 10 articles that were selected and utilized for this systematic review.

Appendix B presents the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta- Analyses [10].  PRISMA is an evidence-based minimum set of items for reporting in systematic reviews and meta-analyses and is used to document in a transparent manner the article search results, screening, and the exclusion and inclusion process [11]

Quality and Relevance

[11]Weight of Evidence (WoE) approach was employed and the following studies were categorized with a ranking scale of “High”, “Medium” and “Low” based on (a) generic soundness, (b) analysis, (c) focus. The weighted scores of “High” = 3, “Medium” = 2, or “Low” =1. Located in Appendix A, the Quality Appraisal Chart shows each study with the total weight, selection criteria, and if the study was selected or not. There were 20 studies listed that were categorized based on with the following breakdown: (a) relevance to topics, (b) how it pertains to leadership and self- efficacy (c) transparency and rigor, and (d) outcome. Each category was then ranked and the total score was provided. The quality assessment resulted in 5 articles being weighted at 2.67, and the remaining 5 articles ranked as a 3. Subsequently, there were 10 articles that were not selected and several were removed due to lack of relevancy and lack of quality.


The results from the analysis and synthesis revealed common themes and similarities regarding leadership attributes and self-efficacy. (Appendix C) Proposition and Theme Chart provides a summary of the results from the selected 10 articles that were reviewed to address the research question and propositions. The results revealed that: P1a showed that there is a positive relationship between self-efficacy and leadership effectiveness, 10 out of 10 (100%) of articles selected shared this theme. Plb resulted in transformational leadership attributes being positively related to self-efficacy, 4 out of 10 articles (40%), and lastly P2 leadership self-efficacy was found to impact leader behavior ,10 out of 10 articles (100%). Appendix C also reveals the weight of each article in relation to the theme, subsequently the total average for each article and theme was placed in W1.


 During the synthesis process in this evidence-based systematic review, various themes were identified from the literature findings which were performance, leadership effectiveness, and transformational leadership:


[12]suggested that individuals with high self-efficacy levels have attributes that predict choice of task, effort, persistence, and level of success achieved The literature revealed that individuals with a strong sense of self-efficacy are more willing to take risks such as employing new strategies to be productive on the job, because of a reduced fear of failure. Paglis’ and Green (2002) found that leaders with high self-efficacy levels engaged in more leadership attempts and took more initiative, which led to increased performance.

Empirically, Prussia, Anderson, and Manz (1998) conducted a structural equation model to determine the relationship between leadership and performance, the results showed significant effects on self-efficacy evaluations, and self-efficacy directly affected performance. [13]found that self-efficacy influences preparedness for occupational change, which is the desire to take on more responsibilities resulting in higher task demands and increased performance. This reveals that there is a relationship between self-efficacy and performance, leaders that possess self-efficacy and strong leadership attributes are more inclined to perform at higher levels and take on more robust tasks due to their high self-efficacy levels which allows them to believe that they can accomplish their goals.

Leadership Effectiveness 

Cobanoglu and Yurek (2018) [14]. asserted that self-efficacy perceptions in a leader make a difference in their leadership style. For example, more eff icacious leaders are more effective. Additionally, Türker, Duyar, and Çalik (2012) [15] suggested that leadership self- efficacy was found to predict leadership behavior and distinguish leaders from non-leaders.

Ramchunder and Martins (2014) [16] revealed that prior leadership experiences predict leadership self-efficacy judgments which positively influence the relationship between self-efficacy and leadership effectiveness. In sum, leaders that possess self- efficacy are likelier to be more effective leaders than those who do not possess these attributes, this is due to the beliefs and motivation that leaders with self-efficacy possess.

Transformational Leadership Traits

Wolf, Foster, and Birkenholz (2009) [17] found that self-efficacy relates to performance and established the connection with transformational leadership. Similarly, Carleton, Barling, and Trivisonno (2018) [18]. found that leadership self-efficacy beliefs are associated with transformational leadership traits. Cobanoglu and Yurek (2018)  [19 ]described that there was a  relationship between self-efficacy beliefs and transformational leadership behaviors , for example, higher efficiency and efficacy beliefs were correlated to higher transformational leadership behaviors. Interestingly enough, Fitzgerald and Schutte (2010) [20] found that leadership self-efficacy may be an important component of transformational leadership.

These findings support one of the central claims of this study, that various leadership attributes are influenced by self-efficacy.


Although the literature has provided reasonable insights and findings in support of the research question, contradictions and differentiating opinions in the existing body of literature must be addressed. As previously discussed, self-efficacy is one’s own perceived beliefs in the capabilities to effectively lead; however, bias may ensue when self-evaluating abilities and attributes. An interesting side finding during the literature search is that transformational leadership may not be a feasible leadership style for all leaders. For example, it was stated that both transformational and servant leaders, with subordinates, all have equal contributions to the overall success of an organization and effective leadership. Despite this claim, the literature did not minimalize the profound contributions that transformational leadership brings to an organization, also the literature describes how servant leadership appears to be secondary to transformational leadership in desired leadership approaches.

Overall, the research conducted suggests that there is substantial evidence which validates that leadership attributes and self-efficacy are related to leadership effectiveness. As organizations continue to evolve, having the best leaders can enhance a company’s brand and continuity. There is significant importance in these findings, organizations can use this information to enhance self-efficacy in leaders, especially since these levels can also be attributed from subordinates and previous experiences which enhances leadership effectiveness. Understanding how subordinates contribute to a leader’s success is highly beneficial to the leader subordinate relationship process.

Implications for Managers

Future implications on the relationship between self-efficacy and leadership attributes can be highly beneficial for hiring managers within an organization, as hiring efficacious leaders may result in more effective leaders and success in the organization. Leaders can identify selection tools that are not just limited to traditional resume scouting and previous leadership experience. Personality assessments can be a way that companies can identify self-efficacy levels and leadership attributes/styles which can become an extra tool in selecting leaders. Leadership failure can occur in successful leaders. The stronger the attributes and how they align with company goals and strategy, the higher the potential for a leader being effective. Finding the balance between management and practice may prove to be favorable as the evolution of leadership continues to be applied to current theory. It should be noted that self-efficacy is a personal belief similar to self-esteem; therefore, leaders that possess high efficacy levels will exhibit more attributes that align with transformational leadership. Future research can focus on how organizations can enhance efficacy in leaders while promoting leadership effectiveness to cultivate the leaders of the future.

Implications for Scholars

As leadership continues to evolve, future research can provide significant literary contributions to continue to increase scholarly works pertaining to leadership, while identifying mechanisms through which perceived self-efficacy and leadership attributes can add continuity to the subject. In sum, the ability to identify leadership attributes to further investigate selecting future leaders can reign supreme.


The limitations of the study are primarily due to the lack of recent and relevant literature pertaining to self-efficacy and leadership, and how it benefits organizations. The literature search was limited to a preselected database which limited literary selections. Many studies are from the educational sector and focused on teacher and administrative leadership findings. Despite these limitations the significance of this literature and the benefits that it can bring to organizations and scholars overshadows the limitations.


This research provided insights on the importance of identifying attributes that can contribute to leadership effectiveness in managers. The mechanisms involved in the formation of leadership self-efficacy perceptions shed light on leadership effectiveness and subordinate contributions in this process. Using the theoretical lens of the transformational leadership theory which highlighted the conceptual framework to investigate the relationship amongst the variables. Overall the propositions were supported by the findings; however, the findings also suggest a greater need in understanding how leadership and self-efficacy can strengthen leadership abilities, and how this information can benefit organizations. This may not only result in lucrative opportunities for a leader and organization, but can also provide practical components, which may bring continuity while aiding in understanding leader behaviors.


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Appendix A

Quality Appraisal Chart


Appendix B

PRISMA Diagram

Appendix C

Proposition and Theme Chart


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