Leadership, in its many styles and applications, is ever-evolving

By Harry Ferguson,2014-04-24 16:28
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Leadership, in its many styles and applications, is ever-evolving

Denise Bieniek December 4, 2006

    IST 661 Leadership Paper

     Leadership, in its many styles and applications, is ever-evolving. We have come a long way from the time before 1945 when the most common approach to leadership study was that of leader traits. Although many studies were conducted, these investigations have never been fully supported. The biggest concerns of these theories were the fact that some leaders who were considered successful did not possess all the listed traits and some leaders had other traits that were not on the list. Ralph Stodgill’s work showed that one could link clusters of personality traits to success in different situations. And, Gary Yukl found there are certain traits and skills that have been found to be characteristic of effective leaders, including, adaptability to situations, self-confidence and creativity (1).

     Studies began shifting their focus from leader traits to leader attitudes and behavior after 1945. This is when Robert R. Blake’s and Jane S. Mouton’s Managerial Grid and Douglas McGregor’s X-Y Theory were formulated. In McGregor’s work,

    manager attitudes are divided into two opposite approaches: Theory X, in which the manager’s authoritative style is based on workers’ negative attitude toward work, and

    Theory Y, in which the manager’s participative style is based on workers’ positive

    attitude toward work. Comparing the Managerial Grid with McGregor’s X and Y styles,

    one can see that the grid’s two axes, concern for people and concern for task, result in four possible leadership styles: country club management, impoverished management, authority-obedience and team management. The Managerial Grid complements McGregor’s work because it gives one a continuum upon which to move from a Theory

    X attitude toward workers to a Theory Y attitude; progress can be seen as a leader moves on the continuum, and not just a jumping-off point and a finish as in Theory X-Y.

     The problem with attitude and behavior models is the fact that neither look at the setting in which the leader and followers are working. Contingency, or situational models take into account the leader, the group, and the situation. Fred Fiedler’s model

    says that leadership style (task motivation and relationship motivation) and situational favorableness (or situational control) are based on three issues: leader-member relations, task structure, and leader position power. When there are high levels of all three factors, the situation is considered favorable and when levels are low, unfavorable. A task-motivated leadership style works best in either situation. For moderate levels, a relationship-motivated leadership style is called for. Fiedler warns that it may be impossible for some leaders to change their style. A leader may find out what type of style s/he possesses by taking a Least Preferred Coworker assessment. If a leader scores a worker with whom s/he did not work well high, s/he is considered relationship-motivated. If a leader scores that worker low, s/he is considered task-motivated.

     While followers and situation are also key to Hersey-Blanchard’s Situational

    Leadership Model, they have devised four leadership styles that they say leaders may use regardless of their style orientation. Based on a subordinate’s job and psychological

    maturity, leaders can adopt the style that best fits that subordinate’s situation. Four styles

    of leadership are offered in this model, from the lowest maturity level - telling subordinates what to do, to the highest level - delegating work to them based on their high level of maturity. Selling the idea of the goal to subordinates and participating with them in their work are the middle ground styles.

     The House-Mitchell Path-Goal Theory is another contingency model in which leadership style can be adapted according to the situation. In this model, the various styles of leadership and how they are based on follower and task concerns are similar to Hersey-Blanchard: if the followers are inexperienced or the task is complex directive

    leadership is used; if the task is boring or tedious, stressful or dangerous supportive

    leadership is called for; if the task is unstructured, clear and follower autonomy is high

    participative leadership can be used; and if follower effort and satisfaction is high when the task is complex or unstructured achievement-oriented leadership is the choice.

     One last contingency model is the Vroom-Yetton Normative Decision Model. It is different from Fiedler, Hersey-Blanchard and Path-Goal theories in that leadership style is dependent on a series of questions which guide a leader toward a decision procedure. The questions range from whether or not subordinates should have a say in the decision, to whether or not the decision would create conflict among subordinates. The questions and answers form a kind of tree, the branches of which end in a number. As a leader travels along the tree branches according to the yes or no answers being given, s/he will reach a number at the end of the last branch upon which s/he lands. This number indicates the leadership style needed to make the decision. Two of those styles are autocratic, two are consultative, and one is a group effort.

     There has been some concern over these contingency theories that they are culturally biased toward a North American viewpoint (2). Leadership styles are based only on concern for people and concern for the task. Sometimes a leader’s culture

    influences the way s/he will make a decision or approach a situation. Some cultures are highly individualistic; others value family over bureaucratic models. Some have very

    different views on how to address and talk to leaders and followers. Another bias issue is that of gender. Though it has not been proven, contrasts between how men and women lead, and how they follow, varies according to their gender. A last point of concern

    some models focus solely on the relationship between leaders and subordinates and do not take into account the issues of structure, politics, or symbols. Perhaps a theory such as William Ouchi’s Theory Z and others like it could pave the way toward more diverse leadership styles. Ouchi’s model is a combination of McGregor’s Theory Y and modern Japanese management, which assumes a strong loyalty and interest in team-work and the organization (3).

     Transactional and transformational leadership are two very different styles from what has been discussed so far. For a leader to be considered truly transformational, s/he must have charisma, motivate followers inspirationally, stimulate followers intellectually, and treat each follower as an individual. Morality and selflessness are important attributes of the transforming leader. Bernard Bass and Paul Steidlmeier compare and contrast the authentic transformational leader with the pseudotransformational leader. The authentic leader will espouse universal brotherhood, the pseudo leader will set up a we-they dichotomy. Authentic leaders persuade others based on issues, pseudo leaders manipulate their followers. Authentic leaders are genuinely concerned about developing their followers into leaders while pseudo leaders are concerned with maintaining the dependency of their followers (4). Transactional leadership has a clear chain of command and motivates people through punishment and reward. This style is much like the telling style in Hersey-Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Theory.

     For many of these leader and leadership theories, there is an underlying concept of “looking in the mirror” instead of “looking out the window.” Leaders must depend on

    themselves and those they assess to be capable of assisting them to make the sometimes difficult decisions, create goals, or change the direction of their organizations. They must be creative and have vision in order to resist looking out the window to see what others have accomplished with their resources, knowing they do not have the same resources and must make do with what is available to them. True leaders are able to look out the window to see what is happening in the world outside their organizations, then look in the mirror and decide how best to move forward.

     If I were to become a manager within the next five years, one of my goals would be to find the best ways to motivate my workers. I would use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to discover what they needed and how I could help them move up to the self-actualization phase. I would incorporate David McClelland’s Needs-Based Motivational

    Model into my repertoire of employee assessment to make the best fit between person and task. Hersey-Blanchard’s Situational Leadership model could guide me through the various circumstances that occur within organizations. I would use Vroom’s Decision Tree in my decision-making and force-field analyses to analyze driving and restraining forces that might influence any changes I wished to make. I like 360 Degree Feedback because it incorporates many different perspectives of one person’s job, aids in the growth of workers by offering specific developmental goals, and is a more informative process for both the worker and the leader. I would strive to grow as a leader in style and innovation and never believe that I have reached the pinnacle; there is always room for improvement.

    End Notes

    1. Hersey, Paul, Blanchard, Kenneth H., and Johnson, Dewey E. Management of

    Organizational Behavior Leading Human Resources. 8th ed. New Jersey:

    Prentice Hall, 2001, p. 90, Table 4-2. 2. Doyle, M.E. and Smith, M.K. “Classical Leadership,” the encyclopedia of

    informal education, 2001, p. 8. Retrieved December 1, 2006 from

    3. Chapman, Alan, reviewer. “Douglas McGregor original XY Theory model,”

    (1995-2005). Retrieved December 1, 2006 from

    4. Bass, Bernard M. and Steidlmeier, Paul. “Authentic Versus

    Pseudotransformational Leadership,” Ethics, Character, and Authentic

    Transformational Leadership, revised September 24, 1998. Retrieved December

    1, 2006 from

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