Visionary Leadership and Employee Quality in the Public Service Sector


Wahyu Abdillah UTOMO1*
Udin UDIN2
Siswoyo HARYONO3

1,2,3University Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.


For the continuity of delivery of public services. A visionary leader prioritizes visions and strategies for future success by observing opportunities and threats. Visionary leaders can relate directly to employees to produce high quality work. This study aims to identify the relationship between visionary leadership and the quality of employees in the public service sector. A qualitative research method was used to provide an explanation related to the phenomena through a deep analysis of the data. This study uses manuscript bibliographic data sources obtained through Google Scholar and was analyzed using a systematic literature review through a bibliometric approach. The results of the research indicate that visionary leadership is directly and significantly related to the quality of employees in the public service sector. Therefore, visionary leadership can be a good choice in determining a leadership style to achieve the vision and strategy for an organization's success.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Visionary leadership
Employee quality
Public service sector.

JEL Classification
A10; A19; M54.

Received: 1 March 2022
Revised:  6 April 2022
Accepted: 20 April 2022
Published: 9 May 2022

(* Corresponding Author)

Funding: This study received no specific financial support.  

Competing Interests:The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Acknowledgement:  The authors would like to thank University Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

1. Introduction

Public service is related to all aspects of life The orientation of public bureaucracy emphasizes more on power, which causes the bureaucracy to move away from its mission to serve the community, and show its power rather than serve the community. Public bureaucracy increasingly damages its image within the community, and thus reduces the level of trust among the public. When public distrust of the bureaucracy rises, this is when a leader has an important role in generating public trust. In order to improve professional community services for efficient public service, leaders must dare to bring change starting from within the organization. Nowadays, it is not enough for leaders to just depend on their power, they must also understand and be able to fulfill what their employees need.

Leadership that elicits quality work from employees in public services is considered important for the sustainability of a system. Public service leadership can have a significant effect on the continuity of service delivery. The choice of leadership style is a determinant of the characteristics that the leader uses to form and influence the quality of his employees. One of these styles is visionary, which focuses on and gives priority to vision and strategies for a successful future through an analysis of opportunities and threats. Visionary leadership is defined as a transformational style of leading that emphasizes the importance of maintaining a vision for opportunities for change in a better direction than the current situation. This style of leadership is also called "transformational" charismatic leadership, and it has been proven that it can provide an increase in employee performance (McColl-Kennedy & Anderson, 2002) and help organizations succeed (Waldman, Javidan, & Varella, 2004).

Hayati (2020) found a model that provides an image of the relationship between talent management, visionary leadership, and employee performance with the intervening variable of employee satisfaction. Then, Anshar (2017) observed the relationship between talent management and visionary leadership. Saba, Tabish, & Khan (2017) argue that visionary leadership is another element that can provide performance appraisals and establish links to employee performance. Mangusho, Murei, & Nelima (2015) introduced a link between employee performance and talent management. Their research also shows that organizations can influence employee performance through a clear plan for career development and growth. Miharja & Hayati (2021) show the important roles of management skills and visionary leadership in efforts to improve employee performance.

This current research is different to previous studies as it discusses the relationship between visionary leadership and the quality of employees in the public service sector.

Most studies focus on visionary leadership and the quality of employees in the public service sector today because of the uncertain changes in this era. A leader has to deal with dynamic environmental changes at a speed only experienced in the current era. A good leader must be able to protect his subordinates in today's uncertain conditions and find strategies and opportunities in dealing with problems. Threats to the outside world can be turned into business opportunities for the organization. Therefore, leaders can make changes and improve their learning ability over time. The object of learning is to determine the strategy of innovation, commitment, and continuous improvement in the goals and tasks of the organization. Learning organizations become good environments for the activities of visionary leaders because they can create an atmosphere of collaboration that synergizes with each sub-system in the organization that produces employees with integrity, commitment, and a collective responsibility for overall organizational performance.
A leader's success is assessed to see if it can lead an organization to become a role model for other organizations and achieve an effective and competitive environment in an organization. Visionary leaders have the ability to improve and develop ideas. Leaders who stick to the old ways are interpreted as traveling backward because those ways are not always in line with a changing environment. Public leaders are required to develop a strategic vision in the service sector that reflects an organization's aspirations, culture, and values. Prospective leaders should have the ability to carry out and lead the vision and mission of an organization through a series of policies and activities in a progressive manner.

In dealing with changes in the work environment, organizations need a visionary leader who has a strong character to create representative public services. Visionary leadership can be effective if the leader has a clear picture of the desired achievements and when these achievements can be realized. A visionary leader does not only think about the business's current position but also thinks about the future. In addition, visionary leaders must be able to regularly participate in training and various other types of development, both internal and external to the organization. Visionary leaders have a role in public services and have a big influence on every organization. Their role becomes essential when they present a vision, instill confidence regarding targets, and involve many people across the organization.

2. Review of Literature

2.1. Visionary Leadership

Visionary leadership is inspiring and transformative. It is defined by a clear vision and a devotion to spiritual principles, as well as the empowerment of subordinates, the implementation of bold and innovative acts, and by demonstrating leadership from the front, generosity from within, pluralism, ongoing introspection, and an emphasis for legacy. It's a process that's both dynamic and interactive (Dwivedi, 2006). Visionary leadership has slightly different dimensions than the charismatic and strategic forms of leadership. A leader is said to be visionary if he can articulate how he leads realistically and can provide confidence and direction to the organization to realize organizational goals better than before. The visionary leadership style is always focused and consistent with realizing the vision, and the process is not rigid on budget issues as is the case with the strategic leadership model (Ates, Tarakci, Porck, van Knippenberg, & Groenen, 2020; Fashola, Akanni, & Ajila, 2016; Westley & Mintzberg, 2009). Based on visionary leadership experts, a leader should emphasize achieving the vision and mission strategy to improve or develop further and realize this through realistic actions while providing positive energy for employees.

Visionary leaders build their vision and then bring it together with their peers to form a shared vision. When people's visions are articulated, they are inspired to act. It's typically because the vision hasn't been effectively articulated that individuals don't act; they're too exhausted to respond since they're spending too long on the decision making process and debating which route to take (Heath & Heath, 2010). Transformational leaders have been observed to demonstrate behaviors and attributes that elicit the loyalty of their followers (Connaughton & Daly, 2004; Kark, Shamir, & Chen, 2003a; Lührmann & Eberl, 2007; Yukl, 2006).

2.2. Employee Quality

Employee development is a very important area. It is more than just helping employees become continuous learners. Employees are people who need to know how to appropriately respond to wants, needs, and expectations, and they are valuable people (Ariani, 2015). In order to be useful for individual employees and organizations, the employee development process must have a broad understanding of the various circumstances in which programs develop employees within organizations (Jacobs & Washington, 2003). Employees impart their knowledge, skills, experience, and creativity to the organization, making them essential to the organization's success  (De Waal & Oudshoorn, 2015). Productive employees are happy employees (Saari & Judge, 2004). The ideal employee can be compiled based on the manager's perspective, which can be used to evaluate employees and recruit new employees. Second, the employees' perspective, can be used to prepare development and coaching programs for employees (De Waal & Oudshoorn, 2015). The quality of employees is related to the good and bad qualities of the level of performance reporting. Companies with good quality human resources show higher quality accruals, less violation of internal controls, and minimal In the public sector services, companies also issue superior management forecasts in terms of frequency, timeliness, accuracy, precision, and bias (Call, Campbell, Dhaliwal, & Moon Jr, 2017).

2.3. Visionary Leadership and Employee Quality

There is a question around how the quality of employees and visionary leadership are correlated. It can be explained by saying that if employees are satisfied with their work and have the same understanding as their leader, they are more willing to accept a visionary leadership style than people who do not have a good relationship with their leader (Howell & Shamir, 2005). There must be a positive relationship between leaders and employees. Employee involvement with visionary leaders is very important to achieve the desired results of the future vision and mission of an organization. The more motivated and committed an employee is to his or her task, the more successful results he or she will achieve. Only with the appropriate direction of competent leadership can a system or management successfully handle disagreements and overcome losses (Kantrabutra & Avery, 2006).

Employee involvement has a positive influence on performance. Involving employees can also increase their commitment to their jobs and the organization (Avolio, Zhu, Koh, & Bhatia, 2004). Employee commitment leads to great performance, which in turn leads to increased employee engagement. Employees that are dedicated to their jobs perform better. It improves accountability and fosters a culture of trust, as well as influencing high-performing personnel (Dose & Klimoski, 1995). Employee engagement and visionary leadership have a favorable link with performance measurements, according to the findings of this study (Cheema, Akram, & Javed, 2015).

Previous research has shown that transformational leadership helps leaders create a friendly environment, which helps improve the quality of their employees (Taylor, Cornelius, & Colvin, 2014). According to Sashkin & Sashkin (2002Sashkin, M., & Sashkin, M. G. (2002). Leadership that matters: The critical factors for making a difference in people’s lives and organization’s success. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.), visionary leaders also display certain behaviors (i.e., self-confidence, pro-social power behaviors, and organizational abilities) that are required to maximize quality employee performance. Transformational leadership improves follower performance (McColl-Kennedy & Anderson, 2002) and organizational success (Waldman et al., 2004). This study found that visionary leaders with high emotional expressiveness skills facilitated the greatest changes in their respective organizations. Consistent with expectation, emotional expressiveness was strongly associated with visionary leadership and the emotional expressiveness of leaders moderated the relationship between visionary leadership and the magnitude of organizational change (Groves, 2006).

3. Research Methodology

This research uses qualitative methods to explain the phenomenon through deepening the data. The data source is from manuscript bibliographic data obtained through Google Scholar, which has been analyzed using a systematic literature review through a bibliometric approach. The literature review is a method for summarizing and evaluating a collection of writings on a topic (Knopf, 2006). A structured literature review is used in mapping and evaluating literature to find potential research gaps and discover the limits of knowledge It is generally carried out through repeated cycles of using the right keywords to search the literature before completing the analysis (Fahimnia, Sarkis, & Davarzani, 2015).

Bibliometric mapping can benefit the scientific community because it can make it easier to change publication metadata into visual forms or maps. It also makes it easier to manage and process data to gain useful insights. For example, visualizing keywords to identify research themes and clusters in a discipline, mapping authors' affiliations with a journal and knowing the geographical coverage of the journal, as well as mapping international and institutional collaborations becomes part of the framework for identifying future technologies (Tanudjaja & Kow, 2018). The information used in this study was found by looking for appropriate references from literature reviews for the cases and problems encountered, then visualized using the VOS viewer software. Figure 1 contains the metadata stages used to build data visualizations.

Figure 1. Stages of metadata preparation.

The downloaded metadata is then processed using VOS viewer software. The software is needed to visualize the metadata that has previously been downloaded and processed according to the algorithm. Keywords and terms that appear for the research theme are then extracted from the title and abstract of the publication or can be obtained from keywords prepared by the author in the articles. In this section the concepts of several visualizations related to the theme of this research are explained. In the basic search section, there are 17,700 articles, in the first limit there are 565 articles, in the second limit there are 458 articles, and in the third limit, there are 127 articles identified.

4. Results and Discussion

The importance of understanding leadership style and how it relates to the team will help to determine the appropriate leadership style to align the quality of employees and efforts to improve public services because some styles support quality management more than others. Leadership is responsible for developing the vision and strategy and aligning and empowering employees to realize the vision. Leaders are responsible for creating quality employees supported by management decisions to align their work with institutional mandates and strategies (Pierce & Newstrom, 2000). Leaders must inform employees of the institutional culture changes needed to implement quality management. Leaders are responsible for shaping the culture in determining group behavioral values and supporting performance goals needed to achieve improved service delivery through customer satisfaction (Oschman, Stroh, & Auriacombe, 2005). To achieve this, leaders must be dedicated to continuous improvement to achieve the stated vision.

Figure 2. Network visualization.

Realizing the vision and mission based on the policymakers' agreement can be obtained if the leader has a visionary leadership spirit. Visionary leadership is a transformational leadership style that focuses on establishing a vision to ensure that opportunities for change are taken in order to improve the current situation. The theory of leadership in other terms is called "transformational", "charismatic" or visionary, and can improve employee performance (McColl-Kennedy & Anderson, 2002) and the success of the organization they lead (Taylor et al., 2014; Waldman et al., 2004).

Visionary leadership is needed to achieve success through quality-led change strategies and a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to anticipate their organization's future (Nwankwo & Richardson, 2066). Visionary leadership is also needed to orient an institution toward quality management with a long-term vision set by the institution to continue meeting the vision of general public service and "a better life for all.Leaders must also be role models by strengthening and communicating their vision and mission through words and actions (Pun & Hui, 2002). Visionary leaders determine the behavior and characteristics of their employees (Connaughton & Daly, 2004; Kark., Shamir, & Chen, 2003b; Lührmann & Eberl, 2007; Yukl, 2006).

Figure 3. Item density visualization.

All employees have something in common about their reliance on leadership for their successful implementation, even if their understanding of leadership differs slightly over time (Kruger, 2012). Employees in a business are the leader's followers and visionary leadership strategies have an impact on what employees do as a result of this. To ensure that a job's follow-up proceeds well, visionary leadership is necessary. Rothermel & LaMarsh (2012) recognize that visionary leadership is entirely dependent on the leader's personality traits to energize followers and articulate the company's vision, mission, and goals. Thus, the good and bad energy that is channeled to employees depends on the leader. Leaders offer instructions to staff as part of this visionary leadership, but those instructions are long-term decisions. When a leader provides subordinates with confusing directions, it can cause delays in meeting goals (Miharja & Hayati, 2021).

For effective leadership decentralization, leaders must be knowledgeable about performance management systems and be able to link results to performance, including employee development and building a collaborative culture (Kruger, 2012). To meet organizational objectives, employee performance is critical. According to Sun et al. (2020), based on data from Chinese companies from 2012–2016, empirical results show that the workforce's education level determines the quality of employees. The study results indicate that it is necessary to consider the level of education of employees because it is directly related to the quality of employees in managing CSR, which is of strategic significance for the sustainable development of public services. Jackson (2004) shows how the quality of commitment plays a key role in achieving success in strategic organizational change. Call et al. (2017) found that public services with high employee quality showed higher accrual quality and minimized internal violations. These companies also issue superior management forecasts in terms of frequency, timeliness, accuracy, precision, and bias. The criteria for an ideal employee are based on the manager's perspective, which can be used to evaluate employees and recruit new employees. Determining the best quality of employees is essential in recruitment because the quality of employees will affect employee performance and the quality of the organization's performance.

The role of visionary leadership and the quality of employees in the delivery of public services greatly influences each organization because the visionary leader presents a vision and provides confidence in the image and targets of an organization. Judging from the reality of the organizational environment that changes continuously, the leader not only has a role in adjusting the organization to external conditions, but the leader is successful if he can lead the organization to become a reference for other organizations. In order to create a competitive and efficient organization, leadership power can create various policies in the delivery of public services. In essence, visionary leaders generally always hold fast to their stance and commitment, are not easily influenced, and must be open to input and guidance.

Therefore, based on a systematic literature review, it can be synthesized that visionary leadership is related to the quality of employees in public services. Employees must be motivated to improve the quality of their performance to provide the best public service satisfaction and self-satisfaction. One example of a leader's efforts is to appreciate the best employees within the organization. The strong interaction between leadership and employee performance shows the relevance or relationship between resources in public services (Audenaert, Decramer, & George, 2021). Internal and external stakeholders need to be aligned to support quality service efforts.

5. Conclusion

Visionary leadership is a transformational leader who focuses on the importance of determining a vision to prepare for change to improve the current situation. Such leadership improves employee performance and organizational success. Visionary leadership is related to the quality of employees in public service. Employees must be convinced about the need to improve the quality of their performance to provide the best public service

This study has limitations in the data collection process. Trying to identify and collect all relevant studies from 2000 to 2021 in the Google Scholar digital library may have missed some relevant studies and potentially lead to publication bias. Determination of the inclusion and exclusion criteria in a systematic review was only for studies in English and does not consider research published in other languages, as well as articles that are not easily available so that it has the potential to cause bias (Magarey, 2001). However, by combining all relevant evidence available in English, this research collects thousands of articles worthy of providing insight in decision making regarding the consideration of choosing a visionary leadership style and the quality of employees in the public service sector.

For future research, this study suggests that data collection should focus on digital libraries, such as ScienceDirect, ProQuest, JSTOR, Springer, and EBSCOhost


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