Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This study was designed to evaluate the effects on followers' perceptions of leader effectiveness and leader flexibility after training the leaders of such followers in general semantics and/or situational leadership theory. The experiment involved female volunteer leaders from three Louisiana service organizations. A 21 hour course in general semantics and situational leadership theory was taught to a research group numbering 18. A control group of 17 leaders participated in an eight hour presentation of situational leadership theory, with no reference to general semantics. Pre- and post-measurements were taken using the semantic differential and Hersey and Blanchard's LEAD-Other. Leaders were rated before training and four months after training by a research group of 42 and a control group of 35 members. Data interpretation from the LEAD-Other indicated followers' rating of leader effectiveness did not increase within the control group after training. Favorable ratings significantly increased in the research group, however. When measuring between the two groups, changes in leader effectiveness, once again, were not significant. The LEAD-Other, however, must be interpreted with caution. This instrument was perceived by the followers in this study as vague and cumbersome; and Hersey and Blanchard indicate no correlation between LEAD-Other effectiveness scores and actual performance. The semantic differential, on the other hand, showed consistent trends of significant changes in leader effectiveness as perceived by followers after training. This interpretation holds for analyses within the control group, within the research group, and between groups. The investigator warns, however, that strong personal feelings between volunteers may have affected members' rating of one another. In addition, the researcher observed that high pre-test scores were followed by high post-test scores--which indicates little variation and could account for high significance. Flexibility also increased within the control group, within the research group, and between groups, after training. This interpretation is based on analyses of the LEAD-Other and the semantic differential. The researcher concluded that general semantics reinforces situational leadership theory. Also, volunteer organizations provide a practical lab for learning which can be transferred to business. The importance of volunteer service may be more obvious in an economy of escalating prices. Thus, future studies in training volunteers in a totally integrated course in general semantics and situation leadership theory may prove helpful--especially if a follow-up course is included to reinforce learning over time.