Small business represents a large proportion of the U.S. economy; however, it generally does not attract the attention of scholars who are more commonly drawn to the corporate workplace. Due to the lack of empirical study, the effects of leadership behavior within this realm of business are not clearly defined in existing related literature. Applying a qualitative research method, this study examined the leadership behaviors and competencies of eight small-business leaders/owners of independent sales agencies. This interpretive study employed narrative inquiry and a data-collection methodology known as the behavioral event interview (BEI) to draw rich data for analysis. This ultimately provided a clearer understanding of the unique behavior and competencies of agency leaders/owners. Through the storytelling technique of BEI, the perspectives of eight agency leaders/owners and four agency associates were drawn that detailed specific events depicting both positive and negative behaviors of the participating agency leaders/owners. Using BEI definitions as a coding framework allowed the relationships of the leader/owner behaviors and competencies to be compared with those of known behaviors and competencies practiced by leaders demonstrating the transformational, transformational/transactional, transactional, and/or laissez-faire leadership styles.
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