To investigate whether it was possible to determine leadership style differences between different functions, a survey was conducted with the LSI leadership style inventory, where managers were grouped based on their function. The functions used were Chief Executive Officer (CEO, President), Production (for example, Production Manager, Factory Manager, COO), Sales (for example, Sales Manager, Sales Director) and Finance (CFO, Audit Manager, Controller). The average differences between these four functions were as follows:
The research groups are quite small, so the results should be considered preliminary. That said, several significant differences in averages emerge. For the leadership styles (CHA, REL and STR), it is primarily in CHA: Changing where the differences are significant, but also the differences in REL: Relation-oriented are significant. Regarding the dimension STR: Structured, there are no significant differences.
In further analysis, the average value differences were examined in more detail. It appears that the Change dimension is higher among CEOs and sales managers, compared to managers of production and finance. On the other hand, CEOs and sales managers are not significantly different when it comes to the Change dimension, and, in addition, production and finance managers do not differ significantly.
Regarding the Relationship dimension, there is only one significant difference between the groups, and it is between sales managers and CEOs. Sales managers are significantly higher.
As can be seen in the table, the groups differ in the Additional Scales. In particular, managers in finance get low values on the scales. This points to the fact that managers in finance often show relatively lower motivation and confidence in managerial tasks.
As suggested earlier, the groups are small, and the conclusions should be seen as preliminary. Maybe there is especially much to do for leadership developers in the finance function. One may wonder if the low values can be explained by the fact that finance managers often have small management teams because they are in a staff function and leadership is not considered as important as for many other managerial roles. The employees are often well educated, relatively independent specialists.
Recruiters can note the importance of the Change dimension for CEOs, and also for sales managers. CEOs also combine Change with lower values on the dimension Relation-oriented. They describe themselves as more Independent (task-oriented and unsentimental/”tough”).