Contemporary leadership styles


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Contemporary leadership styles

  1. 1. Contemporary Leadership Styles - 3 CEs Author: Kristi Hudson RN BSN CCRN Course Description This course is designed to give an overview of past and present leadership styles. Traditional vs. contemporary leadership definitions will be discussed. Trait theory, behavioral theories, situational as well as transformational and transactional theories of leadership will be presented. Helping the student determine and understand their own leadership style will also be a key focus of this course. Course Objectives Upon completion of this course the student will be able to: Define traditional vs. contemporary leadership roles. Describe the basic concepts of the autocratic, democratic and laissez- faire leadership styles. Differentiate between trait, behavioral and situational leadership styles. Describe the benefits of applying different behavioral leadership styles to specific situations. Compare and contrast transformational vs. transactional leadership styles. List the expected benefits of transformational leadership. Defining Leadership Throughout history there have been as many of “leadership” as there have been commentators on the subject. The following two examples (one being traditional and the other more contemporary) will show how the definition of leadership has evolved from 20th to 21st century. A traditional definition – “Leadership is an interpersonal influence directed toward the achievement of a goal or goals”. When broken down there are three key principles to this traditional definition which are: Interpersonal – meaning dealing with more then one person (thus a leader works with a group of people). Influence – the power to affect others. Goals – the end that one strives to attain.
  2. 2. This traditional definition of leadership can be re-worded to simply state “a leader influences more then one person towards a goal”. A more contemporary definition – “Leadership is a dynamic relationship (based on mutual influence and common purpose) between leaders and collaborators which leads both parties to higher levels of motivation and moral development as they evoke “real” change. When this definition is broken down there are also three key principles which are: Relationship – the connection between people. Mutual –sharing something in common. Collaborators – working together. This more contemporary definition of leadership can be re-worded to simply state “the leader is influenced by the collaborators while they work together to achieve real change”. Leadership Theories The Trait Theory – The trait theory of leadership (which was popular in the 1940’s and 1950’s), attached leadership ability to specific traits. This theory of leadership attempted to state that if someone had “true leadership traits” they could lead regardless of the situation. The trait theory focused on “what a person is” and not on what they could accomplish. The following are assumptions of the trait theory: People are born with inherited traits. Some traits are particularly suited to leadership. People who make good leaders have the right (or sufficient) combination of traits. The trait theory postulates the following as important leadership traits: Physical attractiveness (neat, well groomed, tall, healthy, usually male). Social and personal characteristics that are inherent to leaders (well bred, intelligent, educated, and well mannered). Adaptable to situations /Alert to social environment Ambitious and achievement-orientated Assertive/Cooperative/Decisive/Dependable/Persistent Dominant (desire to influence others)
  3. 3. Energetic (high activity level)/Self-confident/Tolerant of stress Willing to assume responsibility The Behavioral Theory Overall dissatisfaction with the trait theory lead to a new theory of leadership (1950’s and 1960’s) that focused more on the actual “behavior” of the leader. The behavior theory focuses more on “what a leader does” rather then “what a person is”. The three leadership styles that emerged from this new belief were the Autocratic, Democratic and Laissez-Faire styles of leadership. It was originally thought that a persons personality lead them to fall into an either or behavioral pattern, but today mastering all of these behaviors and applying the appropriate behavior to the appropriate situation is thought to be a better approach. The following quiz will help to individualize and define these behaviors: Quiz to determine which Leadership Style fits you! Using the following point system, answer the following 12 questions. 0 - Never, 1 – Sometimes, 2 – Usually, 3 – Always 1. When a procedure has failed, I fix it myself, and then explain what happened. 2. I believe my staff shows self-direction when they are motivated/encouraged. 3. My leadership helps my subordinates to grow. 4. I usually tell my staff how and why something needs to be done. 5. I ask for ideas, and encourage contributions by my staff. 6. My employees decide what needs to be done, and how it is done. 7. I like power and control. 8. I ask advice when change is needed. 9. My workers know more about their jobs then I do. 10. When my staff does something wrong, I tell them not to do it again, and document the event. 11. When differences arise my staff and I work together to resolve them. 12. A vote is always taken and the majority rules. 1_____ 2_____ 3_____ 4_____ 5_____ 6_____ 7_____ 8_____ 9_____ 10_____ 11_____ 12_____ Autocratic_____ Democratic_____ Laissez-Faire_____ Add scores from questions 1, 4, 7 and 10 and place score in Autocratic section. Add scores from questions 2, 5, 8 and 11 and place score in Democratic section. Add scores from questions 3, 6, 9 and 12 and place in Laissez-Faire section.
  4. 4. (The area with the highest score is most likely your leadership style). The Autocratic Leader The Autocratic leader is someone who usually needs to dominate others. The autocratic approach is often a unilateral one and they are most likely attempting to achieve a single goal or objective. This approach to leadership generally results in passive resistance from team-members and in order to get things done, requires continual pressure and direction from the leader. Generally an authoritarian approach is not a good way to get the best performance from the team. The Autocratic approach is sometimes confused with the yelling and demeaning approach that an “abusive” leader would resort to. There is however some instances where an autocratic style of leadership may not only be necessary but actually the most appropriate style of leadership for a given situation. These situations are ones that call for urgent or quick action. Because most people are familiar with autocratic leadership, they have less trouble adapting to this style. In stressful situations (such as an impromptu survey), staff may prefer an autocratic approach. A good use of autocratic leadership is when JCAHO or the Department of Health is in the hospital and nobody knows why. Staff members appreciate and autocratic approach in these situations. The Democratic Leader The Democratic leader uses a team approach to make decisions. Although the Democratic leader makes the final decision; they will usually involve one or more team members in the decision making process. A good Democratic leader is one who encourages staff participation, is empowering and supportive, and is careful not to lose site of the fact that he/she is still ultimately responsible for the final outcome. The Democratic leader is happy to see staff members collaborate and is willing to accept that outcomes may turn out different then originally planned (it is all about the process). One draw back to the Democratic leadership style is that the leader is sometimes viewed as someone who cannot make a decision on his/her own. Though most team members will have respect for this type of leader; not everyone will view them as a "true" leader. Another draw back to this leadership style is that many discussions, emails and meetings are usually required before a decision that has group consensus is made (this can be time consuming).
  5. 5. A good use of democratic leadership is when a practice change (maybe a new JCAHO safety regulation for example) needs to occur and the leader includes staff ideas and suggestions to help with the smooth implementation and transition of the change. The Laissez-Faire Leader The Laissez-Faire leader exercises very little control over his/her staff members. This type of leadership essentially leaves all of the decision making to those who will be affected most. The Laissez-Faire leadership style works very well when dealing with staff members who are committed, motivated and able to analyze a situation properly. Once the Laissez-Faire leader has established that staff members are high functioning; it is often best for this leader to step back and let staff members get busy with the task at hand. This type of leadership also allows for delegation of tasks that empowers staff members to achieve their goals. Although independence and decision making is relinquished to staff members; using this style of leadership makes jumping back into a failing process very difficult. Interfering in the middle of a task or ongoing project can cause resentment and an overall lack of trust on the part of staff members. A good use of Laissez-Faire leadership would be identifying a problem and allowing staff to come up with and implement a solution. When staff develops “anything” on their own, there is a much greater chance that they will be accountable for the change or improvement. The Situational or Contingency Theory of Leadership In 1967 Fred Fielder ( a leading scientist in the area of organizational and industrial psychology) developed “The Contingency Theory of Leadership” based on his belief that in addition to specific behavioral traits; leaders also need to assure that there actions were in sync with the situation (known as situational favorableness). The Contingency Theory of Leadership postulates that leaders must match their leadership style (either task or relationship oriented) to the situation and then assess the situation for its degree of favorableness or unfavorableness to the leader’s style of influence. In order to determine ones leadership style; Fielder developed an index called the “Least Preferred Co-Worker” (LPC) scale. The LPC scale asks the leader to think of the person (past or present) who they have not worked well with and score the person using the following 1-8
  6. 6. ranking scale (this is a modified scale, the original having 16 questions): Unfriendly 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Friendly Uncooperative 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Cooperative Hostile 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Supportive Guarded 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Open When complete add up the total score and divide by 4 to get an average score. For this modified scale, scores of 4 or below = A task motivated/oriented leader Scores of 5 or above = A relationship oriented leader (This is shortened version of the actual scale so results may vary). Once leadership style has been established, favorableness of the situation (or the degree that the leader can influence the group) is the second component to the Contingency Leadership Theory. The following situational factors must be considered: Leader-Member relationships (the degree in which the members accept the leader) Task Structure (the degree that the members understand the task and what they need to do) Position of Power (the amount of authority the leader has within the organization) For example: If the leader-member relations are good, the leader has the power to promote, demote or fire, and the task is well spelled out; then the situation is favorable to proceed. If the leader-member relationship is poor, the leader has no authority over the members and the task is nebulous or described with uncertainty then the situation can be thought of unfavorable. Overall the situational approach to leadership has been a valuable model and contribution to leadership styles, by taking some of the focus of successful leadership off of the “leader” and placing it on the situation at hand. Note: Task oriented leaders are thought to work well in extreme situations (favorable or unfavorable), while relationship oriented leaders are thought to work in more moderate (only slightly favorable or unfavorable) situations.
  7. 7. Transformational vs. Transactional Leadership Theory (21st Century) Great leaders come from great team members. Coaching and mentoring are often words associated with the transformational leader. The ultimate goal is to create a clinical staff leader who will head off in a different direction, and carve out new ideas and pathways. The transformational leader sets the standard by their actions, and not their words. The following statements describe the Transformational Leadership Theory: The Transformational theory focuses on the leader and employee working together for the greater good. It is a theory that places strong emphasis on one individual engaging others and creating a connection that elevates the level of motivation and morality in both the leader and the follower. Transformational leadership merges ideals and focuses to unite both the employee and the nurse manager. Transformational leadership promotes change. The key to transformational leadership is to actively listen and institute pertinent suggestions that not only promote client outcomes, but also help to build a base of leadership with the new nurse. Expected Outcomes of Transformational Leadership Changing the mental models of employees Linking desired outcomes to values held by employees Creating employee ownership in outcomes so that positive outcomes validate the self concept of employees. Building strong employee identification with the group or organization. Transactional Leadership Theory Transactional leaders view the leader-follower relationship as a process of exchange. The transactional leader uses his/her position in order to encourage desired behaviors and tends to gain compliance by offering rewards for performance and compliance or threatening punishment for non performance and non compliance. The transactional leader does not focus on the individual needs of the follower, nor does the transactional leader focus on the personal development of the follower. Transactional leaders are usually influential because it is in the best interest of the follower to do what the leader asks.
  8. 8. There are times when transactional leadership is appropriate and appreciated by staff members. For example; stating that a successful JCAHO audit equals a big “pizza party” is usually favorable to staff members. Basic Differences in Transformational and Transactional Styles Transformational The transformational leader: Raises staff member’s level of awareness and level of consciousness about the significance and value of designated outcomes. Gets staff members to transcend their own self- interest for the sake of the team, department and organization. Alters the need level (after Maslow) and expands the range of wants and needs of staff member’s. Transactional The transactional leader: Recognizes what it is that staff members want to get from work and tries to ensure that they get it (if their performance merits it). Exchanges rewards and promises for staff member’s efforts. Is responsive to staff member’s immediate self interests. References Changing Minds Org. (2009). Transformational Leadership. Retrieved on September 4, 2009 at: tm Allen, G., (1998). Management modern: Leading. Retrieved on January 15, 2006 at: Antoine, P., (2003). Fielder’s contingency theory of leadership. Retrieved on January 14, 2006 at: Dean, M., Lt. Colonel. (2003). Managerial styles. Retrieved on December 15, 2005 at: Hein, E., C., (1998). Contemporary Leadership Behavior. (5th ed). (pp. 59-92). Lippencott. Philadelphia McGoldrick, T., B., Menschner, E., F., & Pollock, M., L. Nurturing the transformation from staff nurse to leader. Holistic Nursing Practice. Fredrick: Oct. 2001.Vol. 16, Iss. 1; pg. 16, 5 pgs. Retrieved on March 26, 2006 fro