Predicting Leadership Success in Extreme Organizations: A Prospective Study From Pre-Recruitment Through Leading in Real-Life

Mili Olinover, Maor Gidron, Jessica Yarmolovsky, Or Lipschits, Ronny Geva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Organizations performing in stressful life-risking environments have unique features that directly influence human lives and communities’ well-being. Such organizations allocate vast resources to identify potential leaders as early as possible to direct and train them for leadership positions. Combat military contexts represent such organizations. The current manuscript offers a 5-year prospective study, addressing a critical gap in the literature regarding the generalization of established predictive leadership success models to leadership in extreme conditions. The study integrates leaders’ characteristics, followers’ perceptions, leadership training, and real-life contexts. Findings show that leadership traits measured years before enlistment related to leadership success, years down the line, when congruent with specific training contexts. Candidates higher in both task and relationship characteristics and in leadership emergence progressed to the senior leadership course compared to dropouts. Leadership emergence, measured in the first phase of leadership training, was the most relevant, stable, and reliable leader’s success predictor, directly and indirectly, of leadership development, above and beyond leadership characteristics. Findings emphasize the important influence of contextual congruency on leadership success in extreme organizations. Current findings may foster better leadership prospects for communities’ well-being and may improve cost-effectiveness in the leadership development processes in extreme occupations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-89
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Leadership and Organizational Studies
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Authors 2022.

Funding

The authors gratefully acknowledge the Selection System Development branch, Behavioral Sciences Center, Israel Defense Force (IDF) for their collaboration, the Ministry of Defense MAFAT for their support, and all the participants for their 5 yearlong collaborations. The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Ministry of Defense, (grant number 4440706519) The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Ministry of Defense, (grant number 4440706519)

FundersFunder number
Behavioral Sciences Center, Israel Defense Force
Selection System Development branch
International Dragonfly Fund
Ministry of Defense4440706519

    Keywords

    • context
    • leadership
    • leadership emergence
    • relation-orientation
    • task-orientation

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