Odom, Summer Rachelle Felton (2012-07). An Examination of the Preferences for Leadership Style of Firefighters of Different Rank and Generational Cohort. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Though management and leadership styles have been investigated somewhat in terms of generations' views on important leader attributes and their own leadership behaviors, little research has been reported on the perspectives of followers and their perceptions of the importance of leadership behaviors. A need exists to quantify for practitioners and other professionals in HRD whether any differences exist among generations with regard to their leadership style preference. Firefighters have recognized generational differences in their profession and the need to account for these differences in their training. There is also a concern for building and training their future leaders. This study is an examination of firefighters and differences that may exist with regard to leadership style preferences in an effort to explain further generational differences in the workplace to gain a better understanding of this phenomenon. Respondents were asked to read scenarios of different fire chiefs with characteristics of each leadership style and respond to questions regarding perceptions of each leader and finally choose the chief for whom they would most like to work. An instrument was pilot tested with 80 firefighters in leadership ranks. The instrument was web-based with a Likert-type scale. In this quantitative, non-experimental, descriptive study, there was a total of 330 firefighters in the final sample. A three-way mixed model ANOVA was conducted to determine whether differences existed in perceptions of a leader's style across scenarios based on a firefighter's generational category and rank. The within-subjects factor was the score for leadership style across scenarios with the levels being the three leadership styles of transformational, laissez-faire, and transactional. The between-subjects factors were generational cohort and rank of firefighter. Frequencies and percentages were reported to determine the leader for whom most firefighters would most like to work. When firefighters were presented with three leadership style scenarios, there was a significant difference (p < .05) in the leadership style score for each scenario. There were no significant differences between generation or rank of firefighter with regard to their leadership style score for each scenario. Transformational leadership was the most preferred leadership style of all firefighters, regardless of rank or generational cohort.

publication date

  • July 2012