College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-22-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Annette J. Towler, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Alice F. Stuhlmacher, Ph.D.


Transformational leaders are capable of elevating individual and unit performance by articulating a compelling vision, explaining how the vision can be attained, and expressing confidence in team members and followers. Despite the abundance of research on the effects of transformational leadership behavior on organizational outcomes, research regarding the antecedents of such behavior is limited. Drawing on goal orientation theory, this research examined the leader’s goal orientation, specifically state learning-approach and state performance-avoid goal orientation, as precursors of transformational leadership behaviors, leader effectiveness, and team performance. The relationship between leader state goal orientation and outcomes (i.e., team performance and leader effectiveness) was hypothesized to be mediated by transformational leadership behaviors, active management, and laissez-faire leadership. Using an experimental design, undergraduate team leaders were induced with a learning-approach or performance-avoid state goal orientation and several individual difference measures were administered to 49 dyads/teams. The teams participated in a task designed for leaders to exhibit their leadership skills. Results revealed that the leader’s goal orientation significantly influenced perceptions of transformational leadership, and transformational leadership positively impacted ratings of leader effectiveness on the task. Laissez-faire leadership and active management did not significantly influence ratings of leader effectiveness. Additionally, the leader’s goal orientation failed to directly impact leader effectiveness, team performance and other leadership behaviors (i.e., perceptions of laissez-faire leadership and 2 active management). The results provide support for the notion that the leader’s goal orientation can be a precursor of transformational leadership behaviors, as well as further support for the positive effects of transformational leadership behavior on leader effectiveness. Implications for leadership science and practice are discussed.