Leadership means influencing others to work willingly toward achieving objectives. What makes leadership a challenging concept is understanding a variety of theories and translating them into skills through application and practice. Managing means planning, leading, organizing, and controlling the work of others so the company’s aims are achieved. But without influence and inspiration, planning and organizing will be futile. On the other hand, no matter how inspirational a person may be, management skills are essential. The first step to leadership is to identify what is happening ; that is, to detect areas of interest that compel you use leadership to resolve a problem. You can account for what is happening by using behavior science theories and concepts to understand why the issues you identified are occurring. The next step is to determine appropriate actions based on your knowledge of how to motivate employees and how to resolve and manage intergroup conflicts.
Leaders with the power and personal traits to be effective in a leadership situation can lead by taking four sets of actions: Providing a vision. Thinking like a leader. Using the right leadership style. Using organizational behavior leadership skills. We have discussed thinking like a leader; now let’s turn to providing a vision.
A leader must provide a direction that his or her followers can work toward. Sometimes a vision is required--a general statement of the organization’s intended direction that evokes positive emotional feelings in its members. A vision is especially important in today’s volatile business environment. A mission statement defines and operationalizes the vision of top management. It broadly outlines the organization’s future course and communicates “who we are, what we do, and where we are headed.” The leader may have to provide objectives --specific results that he or she wants the group to achieve. The roles of leader and manager converge in setting a direction with a vision, mission, or goal. Planning is the first management function, but by providing direction, a manager becomes a leader.
Psychologists Kirkpatrick and Locke say that power and personal traits are two leadership fundamentals. Leaders must have the personality traits to do the job. The trait theory of leadership asserts that leaders have the following traits: Leaders have drive . They are action-oriented with a high desire for leadership and achievement. They get satisfaction from completing challenging tasks and attaining excellence. If people cannot trust their leader, they will not follow; so honesty and integrity are important. Self-confidence plays an important role in decision-making and gaining the trust of others. A leader must pick the right direction and then put into place the mechanisms required to get there. A leader has cognitive ability . A leader must pick the right direction and then put into place the mechanisms required to get there. A leader’s intelligence and subordinates’ perception of his or her intelligence are highly rated leadership traits. Leaders have business knowledge —that is, they are extremely knowledgeable about their company and industry. As a result, they make good decisions and understand the implications of those decisions.
The following are the sources of a leader’s power . A leader’s authority most commonly stems from the position to which he or she is appointed and the power to reward or punish individuals. An authority in his or her field has expert power , and others do what is asked of them out of respect. Referent power is based on personal magnetism and charisma.
Leader behavior researchers have propounded theories about the relationship between a leader’s style and his or her effectiveness as a leader. Two points can be made about these theories. First, they all focus on what leaders do and how they behave while trying to influence followers. Second, the assumption underlying all the behavioral leadership theories is that leaders perform two basic functions: accomplishing the task and satisfying the needs of group members. The functions of a task oriented leader are to clarify the jobs to be done and force people to focus on their jobs. The roles of a people-oriented leader are to reduce tension, make the job more pleasant, boost morale, and crystallize and defend the values, attitudes, and beliefs of the group. Most experts believe that the task and people dimensions of leadership are not mutually exclusive.
A survey called the Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire (LBDQ) was developed at Ohio State University. It measured two leadership factors: the Ohio State Dimensions of Leadership--initiating structure and consideration. Leadership behavior indicative of mutual trust, friendship, support, respect, and warmth is called consideration . Leadership behavior which organizes work to be done, defines relationships or roles, and develops channels of communication for getting the job done is called initiating structure . Two leadership styles stem from the basic “people” and “task” leader dimensions. Faced with the need to make a decision, an autocratic leader solves the problem and makes the decision, using the information available at the time. In contrast, a participative leader shares the problem with his or her subordinates as a group, and together they generate and evaluate alternatives while attempting to reach a consensus on a solution.
Two leadership theories emerged from the University of Michigan studies. Rensis Likert and his associates identified two leadership styles. Employee-oriented leaders focus on the individuality and personality needs of their employees and emphasize building good interpersonal relationships. Job centered leaders focus on production and the job’s technical aspects. Likert concluded that supervisors with the best performance records focus their primary attention on the human aspects of their subordinate’s problems and on endeavoring to build effective work groups with high performance goals. Other University of Michigan researchers focused on close and general leadership styles. Close supervision is at one end of a continuum that describes the degree to which a supervisor specifies the roles of subordinates and checks up to see that they comply with these specifications. The laissez-faire leader who takes a hands-off approach with subordinates is at the other extreme. A general leader is somewhere in the middle of the continuum.
Transactional leaders are oriented toward accomplishing the tasks at hand and maintaining good relations with the workgroup. They exert influence during daily leader-subordinate exchanges to achieve routine performance. Transformational leadership refers to the process of influencing major changes in the attitudes and assumptions of organizational members and building commitment for the organization’s mission, objectives, and strategies. Transformational leaders broaden and elevate the interests of their followers, generate awareness and acceptance of the purposes and mission of the group, and stir their followers to look beyond their own self-interests for the good of others.
Transformational leaders encourage—and obtain—performance beyond expectations by formulating visions and then inspiring followers to pursue them. From the vantage point of the followers, transformational leaders have the following characteristics: Transformational leaders are charismatic . Employees often idolize them and develop strong emotional attachments to them. Transformational leaders are inspirational . They passionately communicate a future idealistic organization that can be shared and use visionary explanations to depict what employees can accomplish. The inspired employees are then motivated to achieve these organizational aims. Transformational leaders exhibit individual consideration by treating each employee as a unique individual and stressing their personal development. Transformational leaders use intellectual stimulation to encourage employees approach old and familiar problems in new ways. As a result, employees question their own beliefs and develop creative problem-solving techniques.
Although the number of women in management jobs has risen to almost 40 percent, only 2 percent of top management jobs are held by women. Research suggests that this disparity is caused not by an inability of women to lead but by institutional biases, such as the “glass ceiling,” and stereotypes. So while there are a few differences in the way men and women lead, they do not account for the slowed career progress of most women managers. Managers tend to identify “masculine” (competitive) characteristics as managerial and “feminine” (cooperative and communicative) characteristics as non-managerial. Some managers believe that women tend to fall apart under pressure, but this view has not been supported by research. Such stereotypes inhibit the movement of women into top management. Studies suggest few measurable differences in the leader behaviors of men and women. Women managers were found to be somewhat more achievement oriented and understanding, while men were more candid. But women and men who score high on the need for power tend to behave like each other. In terms of performance , male and female managers in similar positions receive similar ratings, and the same is true of business simulations at assessment centers. However, women often score higher on measures of patience, social sensitivity, relationship development, and communication. These are the skills that managers of the future will need to manage a diverse and empowered workforce.
The Path-goal Leadership Theory is based on the Expectancy Theory of motivation. Expectancy theory states that whether a person will be motivated depends on two things: whether the person believes that he or she can accomplish the task and his or her desire to do so. According to Robert J. House, leaders should increase the personal rewards subordinates receive for attaining goals and make the path to these goals easier to follow by clarifying them and removing roadblocks to their attainment. The leader’s style will depend on the situation, so leaders must be flexible. While leaders may have one prevailing style (participative or autocratic), Leader-member Exchange Theory (LMX) asserts that they may use different styles with different members of the same work group. This theory suggests that leaders divide subordinates into an “in group” and an “out group.” The leader’s decision is often made with very little real information, although leader-member similarities can be enough. The quality of leader-member exchanges was found to be positively related to a leader’s perception of two things: similarity of leader-follower attitudes and follower extroversion . Such findings suggest two practical implications. Since “in group” members can be expected to perform better than “out group” members, leaders should strive to make the “in group” more inclusive. Followers should see the importance of being more outgoing, of being in the “in group,” and of emphasizing what they share with their supervisors rather than the ways in which they differ.
Fred Fiedler developed the least-preferred coworker (LPC) scale to determine a person’s basic leadership orientation: either relationship-oriented or task oriented. Fiedler believed that he could use the LPC scale to determine the basic leadership style of a person who is responding to the scale. For example, if the LPC is described in positive terms, then the respondent is relationship-oriented. If, on the other hand, the LPC is described in unfavorable terms, then the respondent is task-oriented. According to this model, three variables control leadership effectiveness. Leader-member relations are determined by the degree of trust, confidence, and respect that subordinates have for their leader. Task structure reflects the degree to which subordinates’ job assignments are structured. Position power is based on the influence that a leader has over variables such as hiring, firing, discipline, promotions, or salary increases. The next step is to evaluate the situation in terms of the three variables. Leader-member relations are either good or poor; task structure is either high or low; position power is either strong or weak. There are potentially eight different leadership situations. Fiedler concluded that task oriented leaders perform best in situations that are favorable or unfavorable. A moderately favorable situation is best suited to a relationship-oriented leader. So, if a leader’s style is not appropriate to a situation, either the situation has to be modified to fit the leader or the leader has to be replaced.
Other behavioral scientists have identified four leadership styles that can be used according to the situation at hand. The delegating leader lets the members of the group decide what to do themselves. Delegating works best where followers are willing to do the job and know how to go about doing it. The participating leader asks the members of the group what to do but makes the final decision himself or herself. Participating works best when followers are able to do the job but require emotional support. The selling leader makes the decision himself or herself but explains the reasons. Selling works best where followers are neither willing nor able to do the job. The telling leader makes the decision himself or herself, then tells the group what to do. Telling works best where followers are willing to do the job but do not know how to do it.
Leadership experts, Victor Vroom, Arthur Jago, and Phillip Yetton, developed a model that lets a leader analyze a situation and decide whether it is right for participation. Because being participative is usually not an either/or decision, they developed a continuum of five possible management decision styles. Style I, no participation . Using information available at the time, the manager solves the problem and makes the decision himself or herself. Style II, minimum participation . The manager obtains information from subordinates, then makes the decision. Subordinates may or may not be told about the problem itself. They do not generate or evaluate alternatives. Style III, more participation . The manager shares the problem with relevant subordinates individually to obtain their ideas and suggestions. Then he or she makes a decision which may or may not reflect their influence. Style IV, still more participation . The manager shares the problem with subordinates as a group to obtain their ideas and suggestions. Then he or she makes a decision which may or may not reflect their influence. Style V, total participation . The manager shares the problem with subordinates as a group. Together the manager and the subordinates generate and evaluate alternatives and attempt to reach agreement (consensus) on a solution. The role of the manager is much like that of a chairperson. Rather than attempting to influence the group to accept his or her solution, the manager is willing to accept and implement any solution that is supported by the entire group.
Thinking like a leader means doing three things: (1) identifying what is happening and why, then taking action; (2) using behavioral science theories to solve problems and manage change; and (3) planning, organizing, leading and controlling. You can develop your judgment by increasing your knowledge, eliminating bias from your thinking, being creative and intuitive, accepting that all decisions are not final, and making sure that timing is right. You can build other leadership traits by developing self-confidence and improving your business knowledge. Build your power base by enhancing your authority and power. Share your vision with others to ensure that your subordinates understand the vision, mission, or objective, and their assignments. Because no one leadership style will be appropriate in all situations, you must be able to adapt your style to the circumstances which confront you. Besides performing the four basic management functions, you can use other management skills to help you lead. For instance, choosing the right followers and organizing tasks properly can reduce the need for leadership.