Original Research

Leadership styles and effectiveness in the workplace: A perspective of the millennial generation

Carolyn Easton, Renier Steyn
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 25, No 1 | a4541 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v25i1.4541 | © 2022 Carolyn Easton, Renier Steyn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 January 2022 | Published: 22 September 2022

About the author(s)

Carolyn Easton, Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, Midrand, South Africa
Renier Steyn, Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, Midrand, South Africa


Background: Millennial leaders are seen in the workplace as the leadership pipeline for the preceding generations, Generation X and baby boomers, particularly given that the older baby boomer generation are retiring. However, the correlation between leadership styles and leadership effectiveness and the consequences for leadership development have not been fully researched in the literature on millennial leaders.

Aim: The aim of this research was to test differences between leadership styles and leadership effectiveness as perceived by both millennial followers and millennial leaders.

Setting: This research was conducted in South Africa, in a variety of organisations, and through sampling of employees across generations.

Methods: Cross-sectional data were collected with instruments based on the Pearce typology of leadership styles, after which the data were segmented according to three generations. After confirming reliability and general factorial validity of the instruments, regression analysis was performed to determine the contribution of four leadership styles towards leadership effectiveness.

Results: Two of the leadership styles, namely empowering and transformational, were perceived by both millennial followers and leaders as being statistically significant predictors of leadership effectiveness, whilst the remaining two leadership styles, directive and transactional, did not have a statistically significant contribution towards leadership effectiveness.

Conclusion: The results support the alternative hypotheses aligned with the literature review that millennials prefer empowering and transformational leadership styles as they regard these styles as effective. However, important to note is that Generation X has very similar preferences. This knowledge will assist with improved development of millennial leaders in the workplace.


generations; effective leadership; leadership styles; directive leadership; empowering leadership; transactional leadership; transformational leadership; millennial leaders


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