Review of the Leadership Assessment Instrument:
Leadership Behavior Description Questionnaire (LBDQ)
EDOL 700-Dr. Farzin Madjidi
Jacque Johnson Hirt
January 17, 2011
The Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire (LBDQ) is a testing instrument that evaluates leadership behavior. The LBDQ Questionnaire originated from an Ohio State University project under the supervision of Dr. Carroll Shartle in the 1950’s. Two students by the names of J. Hemphill and A. Coons created the original questionnaire.
The Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire was created for research purposes and was tested in numerous leadership situations after WWII. Ohio State University provides the LBDQ questionnaire free of charge for continued leadership research. The copyright and acquisition rights are held by Ohio State University, College of Commerce and Administration.
The Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire is based on subgroups related to leadership styles. The validity of the LBDQ subgroups is determined by a modified Kuder-Richardson formula. (Stogdill, 1963). There is various data supporting the reliability of LBDQ, but little to none regarding its validity. (Stogdill &Coons, 1957, Stogdill, Goode &Day, 1963, 1964).
The LBDQ is largely criticized for narrowing down the multifarious characteristics of leaders down to only two factors, “consideration” and “initiating structure”. The reliability of the two factors have been substantiated by several studies (Bass, 1990), but the validity of the results are in question. To illustrate, the LBDQ measures observed behaviors using nine categories. The categories range from representation, tolerance of uncertainty to persuasiveness and superior orientation. Although the researchers initially reviewed the responses to 150 questions in the nine categories, the reason for condensing the various factors down to the two was never explained. Subsequent research using randomly generated data found that the study could have derived several dominant characteristics (Armstrong & Soelberg, 1968). Therefore, although the original conclusion is not necessarily false, it was questionable whether only two factors were dominant.
In support of the LBDQ, Stogdill (1969) verified its validity by conducting experiments by performing two separate scenarios. In the first scenario, he had two different actors portray the same leadership dimensions and in the second scenario, two dimensions were portrayed by the same actors. In both cases, the audience (seven graduate students) was able to choose the correct dimension on the LBDQ questionnaire. The importance of the LBDQ was again emphasized by Schriesheim and Bird (1979). They said leadership studies shifted from traits analysis to behavioral analysis. Secondly, the LBDQ also pointed out the importance of leadership in situations—given certain situations, leaders may arise from within a group.
The LBDQ has been used to describe the qualities of a leader by the followers, given that the followers had past experience with the leader. The questionnaire can be given to small groups as long as each respondent’s answer remains anonymous. The sampling should be approximately seven participants or a minimum of four. The LBDQ has been used in various industries and for various research purposes, including the military, nonprofits and for profit organizations, training and educational institutions and service organizations. It can be used for research purposes, but also to give feedback to leaders regarding their consideration and initiating tasks. Additional notable studies include Fleishman, Harris and Burt’s use of the LBDQ in their studies of factory foreman, Hemphill in a study of 22 departments in a liberal arts college and Halpin reported the LBDQ descriptions of a sample of 50 school superintendents (LBDQ Manual, 1957).
Initiating Structure, one of the two factors measured by the LBDQ, refers to the leader’s behavior in delineating the relationship between himself and the members of his group, and in endeavoring to establish well-defined patterns of organization, channels of communication, and ways of getting the job done (LBDQ Manual, 1957, p. 1). The second factor, consideration, refers to behavior indicative of friendship, mutual trust, respect, and warmth in relationship between the leader and members of the group (LBDQ Manual, 1957, p. 1). In administering the LBDQ, no mention should be made of the Initiating Structure and Consideration dimensions (LBDQ Manual, 1957, p. 2).
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