The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) is a popular survey instrument used to examine leadership. At the end of the survey, three MLQ leadership styles are created: transformational, transactional, and passive avoidant leadership. Often times, researchers wish to classify their MLQ participants into being one leadership type. However, this isn’t realistically possible due to how the MLQ leadership styles scores are created.
What can be done is each participant can be compared to the norm score for each of the subscales (IIA, IIB, IC, IR, IM, IS, IC, CR, MBEA, MBEP, and LF). The participants can then be classified as “high” or “low” depending on if they scored above or below the normed average for each sub-scale.
Alternatively, the leadership scores can be compared within the group of participants. Those with higher transformational scores can be said to display higher transformational leadership compared to the other participants in the data set. So while it is not advisable to create a single “leadership style” variable to compare transformational, transactional, and passive avoidant leaders with, one can still create three dichotomous leadership variables using “high” and “low” categories. Each leadership style score can be split at the median, with those above classified as “high” in that leadership style, and those below classified as “low” in that leadership style. However, when doing this median split, the researcher should explicitly state that the participants are “high” in that leadership styles score relative to their data set.
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