The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) is a psychological inventory consisting of 36 items pertaining to leadership styles and 9 items pertaining to leadership outcomes. The MLQ was constructed by Bruce J. Avolio and Bernard M. Bass with the goal to assess a full range of leadership styles. The MLQ is comprised of 9 scales that measure three leadership styles: transformational leadership (5 scales), transactional leadership (2 scales), and passive/avoidant behavior (2 scales), and 3 scales that measure outcomes of leadership. The MLQ takes an average of 15 minutes to complete and can be administered to an individual or group. The MLQ can be used to differentiate effective and ineffective leaders at all organizational levels and has been validated across many cultures and types of organizations. It is used for leadership development and research.
The MLQ is designed as a multi-rater (or 360-degree) instrument, meaning that the leadership assessment considers the leader’s self-assessment alongside the assessments of their leadership from their superiors, peers, subordinates, and others. The Leader (Self) Form and the Rater Form of the MLQ can be completed and assessed separately – however validity is much weaker when assessing leadership using only the Leader (Self) Form.
Following the publication of the original MLQ in 1990, new versions of the MLQ were gradually developed to fit different assessment needs. The current versions of the MLQ are: Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire 360 (MLQ 360), Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire Self Form (MLQ Self), Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire Rater Form (MLQ Rater Form), Team Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (TMLQ), and Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire Actual vs. Ought. All MLQ versions are protected by copyright law and published by Mind Garden, Inc.
The MLQ underwent a re-branding for its scales in 2015 with the justification of replacing the heavily-academic scale names with terms that would be more widely and easily understood by those outside of academia, such as business leaders and consultants. Recent academic research using the MLQ continue to use the original scale names.
The MLQ is often combined with the Authentic Leadership Questionnaire (ALQ) to assess the self-awareness, transparency, ethics/morality, and processing ability of leaders (the ALQ was constructed by Avolio with William L. Gardner and Fred O. Walumbwa in 2007).