Learning from Followers: An Examination of Follower Voice Behavior and Its Influence on Leadership Competencies of Ugandan SME Owner-Managers

Charles Okuonzi


Ugandan Small business owner-managers lack the desired leadership competencies yet they are a hard nut to crack as far as engaging them in competence development activities is concerned. Based upon Social Constructivism theory, exit-voice and loyalty theory and leader-member exchange theory, this paper explains how leadership competencies of SME owner-mangers can be enhanced with a general assumption that such learning provides support for the growth, development and continuing success of their firms. This paper reports the findings of a cross-sectional survey and a mixed method study involving 340 employees and 54 owner-managers in SMES in Uganda. Using hierarchical regression analysis, the findings suggest that followers through their voice exertion behaviour provides an alternative to convention learning and training by being a rich-informal source of learning for SOMs that meets their learning preferences besides overcoming their excuses for not attending face-to-face training, including time away from  operations and poor Return on Investment (ROI). Findings do provide proof of concept that follower voice behaviour is indeed a learning tool for SOMs and advances research on leadership competencies and organizational literature by introducing Follower voice behaviour as a vital source of learning for SME owner-managers.

Keywords: Follower Voice Behavior, Leadership Competencies, LMX, SMEs, SOMS, Uganda

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ISSN (Paper)2222-1905 ISSN (Online)2222-2839

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