Leadership and Mentoring

How Personality & Communication Style Effect Productivity

The Role Model

Early literature has shown a significant relationship between personality, leadership style and faculty research productivity. Individual leadership characteristics that often facilitate productivity include: keeping group mission and research goals visible to all members, initiating structure and organization on research projects, and using an assertive participative leadership style.

Sondari (2016) divided faculty into several categories, including outstanding researchers and effective researchers. Findings suggest that the most important attribute for outstanding researchers in predicting success was the individual who served as a role models at their home institution; this was followed, in decreasing importance, by flexibility, achievement orientation, developing others, and team leadership.

Kok and McDonald (2017) illustrated that successful academic leaders were practical, directed goals clearly, trustworthy, and trusted their staff with autonomy. Furthermore, Uslu and Welch (2016) conducted a qualitative study to examine the leadership behaviors of senior academics and found a positive correlation with the following attributes including: maintain high research publication standards, being a role model of scholarly achievements, continuously raising the reputation or rankings of their institutions, bringing in external funds, and helping younger researchers develop.

Together these studies demonstrate that those faculty who serve as role models within their department, maintain high publication standards, and strive to develop their fellow researchers are more likely to be highly productive researchers. 

Communication Style

According to Solaja (2016), a strong connection also exists between an individual’s leadership communication style and their personality traits. Attentive, open, and contentious leaders with dramatic or impression-leaving communication styles are most likely to become highly productive individuals. In addition, the findings established that there is combined effect of leadership communication style and personality trait on organizational productivity as a whole and can be used to predict productivity.

This study is important because it provides a logical and clear way for leaders to develop productive employees through a more personal approach tailored to that individual’s personality; and also, for employees to find a pathway to become successful leaders through self-reflection on their own communication styles.

Team Leadership

However, it is important to note that early literature is ambivalent that leadership behaviors influence team behaviors and productivity. Omar (2014) found a positive influence of team leadership thorough increased team commitment on research team effectiveness by measuring team effectiveness by publication yield, team member satisfaction, and job frustration. However, these findings contradict previous studies that suggest research team members can work independently without leadership, and therefore leadership may have less influence on research productivity.

It is suggested that research productivity in larger research teams could be driven more by team climate and commitment than by team leadership.

Whether you are located within a broad academic division or a specific research team, it is important to remember that specific leadership skills and personality traits play an important role in boosting productivity and team satisfaction.


  • Kok, S. K., & McDonald, C. (2017). Underpinning excellence in higher education–an investigation into the leadership, governance and management behaviours of high-performing academic departments. Studies in Higher Education42(2), 210-231.
  • Omar, Z., & Ahmad, A. (2014). Factors contributing to research team effectiveness: Testing a model of team effectiveness in an academic setting. International Journal of Higher Education3(3), 10.
  • Solaja, M. O., Idowu, E. F., & James, E. A. (2016). Exploring the relationship between leadership communication style, personality trait and organizational productivity. Serbian Journal of Management11(1), 99-117.
  • Sondari, M. C., Tjakraatmadja, J. H., & Bangun, Y. R. (2016). Modeling Research Competency of Faculty Member: A Preliminary Data. Sains Humanika8(1-2).
  • Uslu, B., & Welch, A. (2018). The influence of universities’ organizational features on professorial intellectual leadership. Studies in Higher Education43(3), 571-585.

Article publié pour la première fois le 18/08/2019

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