Discrepancies in Leader and Follower Ratings of Transformational Leadership: Relationship with Organizational Culture in Mental Health

  • Gregory A. AaronsEmail author
  • Mark G. Ehrhart
  • Lauren R. Farahnak
  • Marisa Sklar
  • Jonathan Horowitz
Original Article


The role of leadership in the management and delivery of health and allied health services is often discussed but lacks empirical research. Discrepancies are often found between leaders’ self-ratings and followers’ ratings of the leader. To our knowledge no research has examined leader–follower discrepancies and their association with organizational culture in mental health clinics. The current study examines congruence, discrepancy, and directionality of discrepancy in relation to organizational culture in 38 mental health teams (N = 276). Supervisors and providers completed surveys including ratings of the supervisor transformational leadership and organizational culture. Polynomial regression and response surface analysis models were computed examining the associations of leadership discrepancy and defensive organizational culture and its subscales. Discrepancies between supervisor and provider reports of transformational leadership were associated with a more negative organizational culture. Culture suffered more where supervisors rated themselves more positively than providers, in contrast to supervisors rating themselves lower than the provider ratings of the supervisor. Leadership and leader discrepancy should be a consideration in improving organizational culture and for strategic initiatives such as quality of care and the implementation and sustainment of evidence-based practice.


Leadership Discrepancy Organizations Management Public sector Mental health 



This work was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grants R01MH072961; R21MH082731; R21MH098124; K01MH001695. The authors thank the community stakeholders, providers, and supervisors who participated in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory A. Aarons
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Mark G. Ehrhart
    • 2
  • Lauren R. Farahnak
    • 1
    • 3
  • Marisa Sklar
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jonathan Horowitz
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.San Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  3. 3.Child & Adolescent Services Research CenterSan DiegoUSA

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