Ohio State Leadership Studies Explained with Examples

Ohio State Leadership Studies is Behavioral Leadership Theory. Series of studies on leadership were done by the Ohio State University in 1945 to identify observable behaviors of leaders instead of focusing of their individual traits.

They found two critical characteristics of leadership either of which could be high or low or independent of one another.

The research was based on questionnaires to leaders and subordinates of the organizations. These are known as the leader Behavior Description Questionnaire (LDBQ) and the Supervisor Behavior Description Questionnaire (SBDQ).

Ultimately, these studies narrowed the description of leader behavior into two dimensions:

  1. Initiating Structure Behavior: The behavior of leaders who define the leader-subordinate role so that everyone knows what is expected, establish formal lines of communication, and determine how tasks will be performed.
  2. Consideration Behavior: The behavior of leaders who are concerned for subordinates and attempt to establish a worm, friendly, and supportive climate.

The Ohio State Leadership Studies also showed that initiating structure and consideration are two distinct dimensions and not mutually exclusive. A low score on one does not require high score on the other.

Hence, leadership behavior can be plotted on two separate axes rather than on a single continuum, as shown in the following diagram;

Ohio State Leadership Studies

The four quadrants in the above figure show various considerations of initiating structure and consideration. In each quadrant, there is a relative mixture of initiating structure and consideration and a manager can adopt any one style.

Although an early study, this is still often referenced. It is notable that the two factors correlate with the people task division that-appears in other studies and as preferences.

The findings of Ohio State Leadership Studies suggest that effective leaders possess a strong ability to work with others and build a cohesive team which is balanced with the capability to create structure within which activities can be accomplished.