Ryan Gottfredson, Cal State Fullerton Mihaylo College management assistant professor. Ryan Gottfredson, assistant professor of management at Cal State Fullerton, received the best paper of the year award in the Journal of Organizational Behavior for his study, “Leadership behaviors and follower performance: Deductive and inductive review of theoretical rationales and underlying mechanisms,” exploring what encourages people to follow leaders.

While discussions about leadership often focus on what leaders can do to stand out and impact circumstances, Ryan Gottfredson looked specifically at the relationship between leaders and the people they lead in his 2017 study, which examines the relationship between leadership behavior and follower performance.

In order to study how leadership impacts follower performance, Gottfredson looked at four types of leadership behaviors – consideration, structure initiation, contingent award and transformational leadership – as well as how they impact or lead to the follower behaviors of task performance and organizational citizenship.

“The main takeaway is that if leaders want their behaviors and efforts to translate into higher or improved levels of follower performance, it is essential that leaders develop positive relationships with their followers,” says Gottfredson. “Stated differently, followers are only going to effectively follow their leaders if they feel like they have a good relationship with their leaders.”

Three years after earning his doctorate in organizational behavior and human resource management from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, Gottfredson’s paper received the best paper of the year award from the Journal of Organizational Behavior, one of the foremost peer-reviewed publications on industrial and organizational psychology.

From Gallup to Mihaylo, Gottfredson Focuses on Building Engaging Cultures

Since joining the faculty of Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics in 2014, Gottfredson has been committed to improving organizational culture and performance, whether through his teaching and research in the academic arena or through applied consulting.

Recently, the Brigham Young University undergraduate alumnus was a workplace analytics consultant for Gallup, which is a household name as a global pollster but also marshals its number crunching to the benefit of corporate clients.

“My role as a consultant was to do deep dives into organizations’ engagement data and report the results back to organizational leaders. We do this because we have learned that if organizations want to improve their profitability through their most valuable resource—their employees—they do this by creating a more engaging culture,” says Gottfredson. “I helped them see the best ways to do that. During my year there, I worked with more than 30 companies, helping them generate data-driven solutions to their people problems and engage and retain their employees.”

On Making an Impact on Students

“I love helping students become better people, employees, family members, friends and leaders,” says Gottfredson. “Given the subject matter that I teach, I feel like I am in a very unique position to add value to students’ lives. I don’t focus on skills that they might use down the road, rather I emphasize skills that help them improve who they are as a person, skills that they can apply now and every day thereafter.”

Gottfredson instructs MGMT 340 – Organizational Behavior, an undergraduate management course, and MGMT 443 – Team Leadership Skills, which can be taken by both undergrads and graduate students to best understand team performance in today’s business world. He says leadership is based on being the type of person who others would seek to follow.

“Young professionals need to focus on how they become that someone,” he says. “To help with this, as a researcher, consultant and speaker, I focus on mindsets. Most people don’t fully recognize this, but our mindsets are foundational to how we think, learn and behave – essentially everything that we do. If we can awaken to and improve our mindsets, how we see and interpret the world, we can become more of someone others want to follow.”

Wondering what your mindsets are and how they can impact your life, work and leadership? Check out Gottfredson’s free individualized personal mindset assessment online.

Looking to the future, Gottfredson hopes to conduct research on these subconscious mindsets that dictate individual success in life, work and leadership. He also plans to continue to follow his favorite sports teams, including the Denver Broncos in NFL football, the Utah Jazz in basketball, the Boston Red Sox in baseball, and the college-level BYU Cougars and Indiana Hoosiers.

For More on Management

The Mihaylo College management program supports undergraduate and graduate programs focused on management and its many subsets, including human resources, organizational leadership, entrepreneurship and the supply chain. For more information, visit the center online. Or read more of our articles featuring the college’s management faculty members, students and alumni.