A critical analysis of personal leadership style with reference to classical theoretical frameworks. The aim of this study is to examine my personal leadership style, in the context of some of the major classical theoretical frameworks of leadership from within the wide body of literature available on this subject. I will aim to apply the analysis of these theories to my own leadership practice and style, and to identify areas where theory can improve my performance within the workplace.
I will also look at data from a small scale study of my co workers’ perceptions of my leadership, as well as information from self assessments of my leadership style. I have been a manager now for nearly five years, initially as a first line supervisor in a large urban local authority Children’s Social Care (CSC) department, and more recently, as a Service Manager for CSC in a large rural authority. As such, I have a good level of experience of leading and managing teams of social workers and team leaders. Prior to embarking on the Post Graduate Diploma in Leadership and Management, I had not studied leadership in any detail.
My practice of leading and managing has as such been based on my own experience of being managed, my observation of other managers and leaders (both good and bad), my own ‘instincts’ as to what I think works, and on my own experience of success and failure as a leader and manager. As my career has progressed, and I have thought more about focusing on the quality and consistency of my leadership, I have wanted to understand leadership as an academic concept, with a view to improving my personal performance, the performance of my teams, and ultimately the service I provide to children, young people and families.
My interest in this subject is not only personal – it reflects a wider debate within the field of social care around how services for children can be managed more effectively, efficiently and safely, particularly in the context of high profile ‘failures’ to protect children. The Children Act 2004 (HM Government 2004) set out guidance for a new way of working to safeguard children more effectively. The adoption of a multi-agency approach to working with children is central to this guidance. Similarly, in the area of management of Children’s Services, a multi-agency approach is viewed as central, as videnced in the ‘Championing Children’ document (Department of Children, Schools and Families 2006), which is subtitled: ‘A shared set of skills, knowledge and behaviours for those leading and managing integrated children’s services’ In the foreword to this document, Beverly Hughes, then Minister of State for Children and Families, highlighted the significance of leadership in this new way of working. “We will only be successful if our services have the right quality of leadership and management. We need leaders and managers who can build teams competent and confident in this new means of service delivery…” (DCSF 2006: 1)
The government social work task force, established following the death of Peter Connolly (‘Baby P’) in 2007 (Lord Laming 2009), highlighted the significance of leadership (or lack thereof) for social work as a profession. “Social workers are unsure about where to look for leadership of their profession, and for representation in the policy debates that shape practice and conditions on the frontline” (DCSF 2009: 44) Where it is identified that there are problems within any organisation, then leadership and management must be considered central to any attempt to effect change.
In this assignment, I hope to make a small contribution to the body of work which sets out how this may happen, at an individual and organisational level. I currently work as a Children’s Service Manager (CSM). I and two other CSMs, oversee the operational management and provision of statutory children’s social work services within the area. I manage two team leaders, who in turn each manage a team of approximately five qualified social workers and two unqualified social work assistants. The work undertaken by these teams is highly stressful and extremely pressured.
Resources are limited and understaffing is a perennial issue. As such, in my role as an operational manager and leader, I am faced with daily challenges in terms of managing the work safely, whilst supporting, leading and developing my teams and staff. Social workers and team leaders work within a tight statutory framework. The prime legislation governing the work is The Children Act 1989 (HM Government 1989), alongside other important documents, including Working Together 2006 (HM Government 2006), The Children Act 2004 (HM Government 2004), The Public Law Outline (Ministry of Justice, 2008).
Social workers also face the challenge of being subject of intense public scrutiny, following several high profile child deaths, most notably Victoria Climbie (Lord Laming 2003) and Baby Peter (Lord Laming 2009). The failings of social workers and other child care professionals from Haringey is not the subject of this piece, but they give some context to the climate of anxiety and scrutiny in which social workers practice at present, and this presents a leadership challenge to those managing social work services.
These high profile failures have also been one of the main driving forces for the current legislative and practice frameworks in which social care professionals currently practice. The ‘Every Child Matters’ Green Paper led to the Children Act 2004, which is significant in many ways but not least in its clear expression of the need for the provision of integrated services for children and closer working between those agencies responsible for children particularly around the issue of safeguarding.
The teams which I manage cover part a large rural county. The county is divided in to four areas, each managed by their own district council. Social work services, provided by the County Council, are provided by four areas co-terminus with the district council boundaries. The area covered by my teams is geographically large. Currently, there are over 33,000 young people aged 0 to 17 in the area. The indices of need show 26. 7% of children are in deprivation in the area (Office for National Statistics 2009).
There are approximately 50 children in the area who are subject to child protection plans, and approximately 110 children who are Looked After by the local authority. The Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) monitors the performance of local authorities via various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which encompass all areas of social work practice. These include timescales for completion of initial and core assessments, timescales for initial and review child protection conferences, stability of placements for Children Looked After, health and education outcomes for Children Looked After.
Whilst these in some senses provide a simple assessment of progress and achievement within teams, they also present a significant challenge in achieving certain parameters set by central government and senior managers, and supporting staff in improving these KPIs with limited resources and increasing workloads. I have set out some of the leadership challenges within my current role. These are currently amplified by threats of significant cuts in government spending due to the current national budget deficit. These may not be new challenges within this sector, or within the world of business and employment.
However they are new challenges for me personally, and in this assignment, I am aiming to assess my own leadership style, critically evaluate it in the context of the available literature, and identify areas of learning and improvement which will allow me to work more efficiently, whilst supporting my team leaders and social workers more effectively. There are many different theories of leadership and management, and the study of leadership can be seen to date back to Aristotle and Plato (Zaccaro, Zachary and Horn 2003).
I will attempt to present a brief overview of some of the ‘classical’ theories of leadership as described in the wide body of literature. It is not exhaustive, but I hope that it reflects with reasonable accuracy those theories which are the most widely researched and described. Prior to examining individual theories, I should comment briefly on the terms ‘leadership’ and ‘management’, which will be used frequently throughout the text. Much of the current literature and debate is focused on leadership, but many job titles refer to managers or management.
In truth, there is a great overlap between these two terms, and defining leadership is a notoriously difficult task. Northouse (2007) cites Stodgil (1974) in pointing out that there are almost as many different definitions of leadership as there are people who have tried to define it. However, Northouse goes on to present a useful working definition himself: “Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” (1997:3)
Leadership as a concept is not new. History records great leaders dating back thousands of years. The concept of management, whilst it shares many common characteristics with leadership, can be seen to have originated with the onset of industrialisation. Northouse (1997) cites Fayol (1916) who identified the primary functions of management as planning, organising, staffing and controlling. Kotter identified similar categories, though he substituted budgeting for staffing (Van Maurik 2001),
Essentially, management can be considered a practical task, which focuses on plans, budgets, resource allocation, policy and procedure, and monitoring, while leadership can be characterised as being more concerned with vision, direction, energising workers and inspiring others to change (Research in Practice 2003). People are led, whilst ‘things’ are managed (Gill 2006). However, I do not believe that these two descriptions need be mutually exclusive, and in this piece, I will work on the basis that there is a considerable overlap between the two, and that they can often be considered interchangeable.
Certainly, in terms of my own workplace and the day to day decisions which are made as a leader and manager, it is difficult to easily separate the two functions. Van Maurik sums up this quite succinctly when describing the work of Kotter: “…. management and leadership are not mutually exclusive. They can be complementary and they can overlap. … however, management and leadership can be very different. Plans do not need to include a vision and the processes of motivating and controlling can be quite dissimilar” (Van Maurik 2001: 45)
Perhaps the earliest systematic attempt to analyse the nature of leadership is what became known as the Trait approach. Also referred to as ‘Great Man’ theory, it focuses on identifying the personality characteristics of those individuals who are considered successful leaders, and attempting to use that information to identify potential leadership characteristics in others. Northouse (2007) and Research in Practice (2003) identify five major leadership traits which have emerged from many studies of this area throughout the 20th century; intelligence, self confidence, determination, integrity, sociability.
McCall and Lombardo (1983) looked at both successful and failed leaders and identified four traits which seemed linked with success; emotional stability and composure, admitting error, interpersonal skills, and intellectual ability. A major criticism of Trait theory is that the research produces so many different characteristics associated with leaders as to make them analytically vague – there does not appear to be a definitive list.
Furthermore, it does not explain why some individuals who have the ‘right’ traits do not go on to be good leaders (Zaccaro 2007). It does not recognise the fact that different situations may require different talents and skills. It also provides very little useful information as to how leadership skills can be developed and encouraged in the workplace – if the suggestion is that leaders are born rather then made, then many of the characteristics identified above do not suit themselves to being easily changed or developed.
However, we cannot yet entirely dismiss trait theory. Lussier and Achua state that: “Trait theory is still being studied today as empirical research on leadership has come full circle, by re-visiting the original belief that traits play a role in predicting leadership qualities and identifying potential leaders (Lussier and Achua 2007: 32) Like the Trait approach, Behavioural or Style approaches can be characterised by a focus on the leader and solely on what he or she does.
The trait approach has been criticised for its reliance on what appear to be largely fixed personality based characteristics. However, a Behavioural approach aims to describe what leaders do rather than simply their individual personality characteristics. Although it is possible to identify many different types of behaviour exhibited by leaders, various researchers have suggested that behaviours can be broadly categorized in to two types: task behaviours and relationship behaviours (Northouse 2007, Research in Practice, 2003 Van Maurik 2001).
Task behaviours are concerned with the completion of goals, concrete objectives, measurable outputs, whereas relationship behaviours deal with how leaders and subordinates feel about themselves as individuals, with thoughts and feelings. Stodgil (1974) called these initiating structure behaviours (task) and consideration behaviours (relationship). Similarly, researchers at the University of Michigan identified employee orientation (relationship) and production orientation (task) (Northouse 2007).
Halpin and Wilner (1957, cited in RIP 2003) also identified task and relationship behaviours as the two essentially discrete elements of the leadership role. Blake and Mouton (1985) developed a widely recognised model for describing managerial behaviour from this approach. Their leadership grid plots relationship behaviours (concern for people) against task behaviours (concern for results) to identify five different managerial styles. This tool is useful for identifying how leaders operate, and the style of leadership they adopt.
Critically speaking, like Trait theory, Behavioural approaches fall down in that they are primarily descriptive. Presenting an analysis of an individual’s style and behaviour does allow them to consider making certain changes, but does not provide a clear plan as to how change can be achieved. It has also been criticised for failing to make any links between leadership style and performance outcomes (Northouse 2007). The current political climate means that the achievement of clearly identifiable performance targets is considered essential, particularly in the public sector.
Where an approach to leadership does not enable any links to be made between leader performance and performance outcomes, then it is open to criticism at a very basic level. Contingency theory, extolled by Fred Fiedler in the 1960s, attempts to match leadership styles to specific situations. (Van Maurik 2001). Fiedler, stated that the effectiveness of a leader depends on certain situational factors, namely; (i)the extent to which work is defined and structured; (ii)the nature of the relationship between leader and followers, and (iii)the level of power the leader has within an organisation (Fiedler, cited in Gill 2006).
Fielder developed what he called the ‘least preferred co-worker’ scale to identify the extent to which leaders are motivated on task behaviours or relationship behaviours. This information can then be used to predict how effective leaders are in different situations defined by the variables list (i) to (iii) above. Contingency theory seems to be a step forward from Behavioural Style and Trait approaches in that it attempts to match the way leaders behave to certain factors within their workplace.
It enables broad predictions to be made with regard to what is likely to be effective and it acknowledges that individuals may not lead successfully in all situations. However, like the Trait and Style approaches, it tends to be primarily descriptive, and does not provide a framework by which leaders might alter their style to fit different circumstances. Indeed, Fiedler himself has suggested that it may be easier for an organisation to change the leader than for a leader to attempt to change his style.
The approach seems to suggest that leaders should be selected for particular situations, or that organisations can change the situations rather than the style of the leader. After all, in this framework, style is presented as fixed and based on the leader’s psychological makeup (Gill 2006). Lussier and Achua (2007) suggest that there are strong links between traits and behaviours, in that many leadership behaviours are based upon the traits of the leader. They also suggest, however that behaviours are much easier to change than traits and as such behavioural theories offer more scope for change than trait theories.
The situational approach to leadership is one of the most widely recognized. Its main proponents are Hersey and Blanchard, who have written extensively on the subject (Blanchard et al 2007). The approach builds on Contingency theory to some extent – it suggests that leadership varies as situations change, so different situations require different forms and styles of leadership. However, it suggests that leaders need to be more flexible in their approach to certain situations and that they are able to adapt their behaviour dependent on what they are faced with.
This may sound to the lay person almost self evident, but as previously described, other theoretical approaches to leadership had focused on the personality traits of the leader, and on fixed behavioural traits of leaders which were not adaptable to different situations. The situational approach allows for the possibility that leaders can adapt their approach to different situations. It is not difficult to see why this has proved so popular with trainers, offering, as it does, a tool which can be used by leaders and offers them ways to change and manage different situations with different approaches.
In a similar vein to the style and contingency approaches, situational management can be analysed in terms of the leader’s use of two types of behaviours: directive behaviours (which can be likened to task related behaviours) and supportive behaviours (which correlate to relationship behaviours). These leadership behaviours can change dependent on the level of development of the staff being led. For example, staff that are experienced and knowledgeable should require less directive management, whilst new or inexperienced staff will require a more directive level of leadership.
Thus, the leader’s style can vary according to the situation. Within this model, leaders can be judged as effective if they are able to adapt their style to meet the needs of their employees. Blanchard et al (2004) described this approach in their Situational Leadership II model (SLII). Diagram reproduced from Blanchard et al (2004) This model describes four different approaches to leadership (directing coaching, supporting delegating) which it prescribes as being useful for staff at different levels of development (or competence and commitment).
Blanchard et al describe a process of moving from the bottom right of the diagram, to the bottom left, via the top centre. At all stages, mangers and leaders must assess where their staff are and adjust the amount of support and direction they are receiving accordingly. In this diagram, the ultimate goal is an employee who requires little support and directive behaviour, whilst demonstrating a high level of competence and commitment – i. e. the bottom left of the diagram. This would indicate an employee who is working efficiently and productively, with a minimum amount of managerial input. This tool appears intuitively to make sense.
However, Northouse (1997) criticises situational leadership on the grounds that it is not backed by significant research evidence, and that some of the assumptions made, whilst appearing logical, are not backed by data. He is also critical of the lack of explanation of how leaders would apply the model to a large, diverse team, and of the lack of account of individual’s demographic differences and how they impact on the leader – member relationship. However, Van Maurik believes that Blanchard should be praised for his common sense approach, readability, and his ability to allow people to translate theory in to practice (Van Maurik 2001).
Research in Practice (2003) similarly feel the model is robust, and points to its popularity as a tool for management training. Transformational leadership is perhaps the most ‘current’ approach in terms of popularity and current interest. It stems from the work of James Macgregor Burns (Burns 1978). Burns wrote about two distinct elements of leadership – transactional and transformational. The former focused on practical task centred exchanges between leaders and followers. The latter approach sees leaders engaging with others and using their charisma and motivational techniques to inspire followers to do better than they might therwise do alone. The former approach is essentially managerial, exercised by those who hold power within an organisation, whilst the latter features the exercise of an individual’s personal vision and enthusiasm to inspire followers to achieve more than they might otherwise, and to believe that more is possible. Burns based elements of his work on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Gross 1987: 652). He suggested that Transformational leadership had as its aim the goal of self actualisation, both for leaders and followers – that is, to become everything one is able to become (Transformationalleadership. et 2007). A current example of a transformational leader would be US president, Barack Obama. It would be difficult to point to any specific policy pledges which had propelled Obama to the Whitehouse, but what differentiated him from his opponents, and from previous presidential candidates, is perhaps his oratorical skill, his ability to create a vision of the future that is convincing to others, and which followers wanted to buy in to. Kanungo (2001) also argues that Transformational (rather than Transactional) approaches are more likely to give a moral dimension to leadership.
Burns work was more recently built on by Bass (1985), who described a more systematic model of transformational leadership, placing it at one end of a continuum, with a ‘laissez faire’ style at the other end, whilst transactional management fitted between these two extremes. Bass identified four components to Transformational leadership. Charisma (or Idealised influence) involves the leader acting as a role model, demonstrating values and appealing to followers at an emotional level. Inspirational motivation sees leaders articulating a clear vision with excellent communication skills.
Intellectual stimulation allows the leader to challenge assumptions, take risks and seek ideas from follower to improve an organization. Finally, Individualized consideration articulates how leaders attend to the needs of individual followers, enabling them to further their own growth and achievement. As the name suggest, Transformational leadership is focused round the process of change (Doyle and Smith 2009) and in times of constant change, its appeal is clear. As a public sector employee, any theory which assists me in dealing with the constant change which is part of my work must be considered.
There is a wealth of literature on the subject of leadership, and the above provides a very brief overview. In order to begin to apply any theoretical approach to my own leadership style, I felt it was essential to gain an objective understanding of how I am ‘leading’ and managing at the present time. Whilst I might have clear ideas about how I think I am working, in terms of real objectivity, I believe I had to seek the views of those with whom I work to gain any useful understanding of my current work practice. Essentially, I am seeking to anaylse my own leadership with reference to leadership theory.
The starting point is therefore an objective viewpoint of my style, approach, positives, failings, in terms of how I mange and lead on a day to day basis. The choice of methodology in any research study is of central importance. In some respects, the choices available for this particular study were limited by the nature of the subjects, and the resources available to the researcher. In attempting to gain the views of those who have experience of my leadership style, I was limiting the study to those with whom I work on a day to day basis.
I chose to narrow the potential subjects down further, to those for whom I have line management responsibility. As such, the sample was a non-probability sample, in that it was not trying to represent a cross section of the population, but was focusing on a specific group. This type of selection has been described as purposive sampling (Denscombe 1998), and is characterised by the hand picking of the sample, based on a previous knowledge of the research topic, and the relation of the selected sample to that knowledge. In this case, the subjects were hand picked because of their employment within teams led by me.
I felt there were both advantages and disadvantages to narrowing my choice of sample to this extent. In choosing to limit my subjects to those for whom I have line management responsibility, it could be said that I might limit the many possible views of my leadership style. How I lead is not an experience exclusive to those whom I line manage. It is something which colleagues on my own level will experience, as will my line manager, colleagues in other agencies with whom I have regular contact, and last but not least, those children and families that I have contact with.
My current position means that I have relatively little direct contact with service users, and as such I do not feel their perception of me would add a great deal to this study. My peers and colleagues from other agencies would doubtless have some unique and highly apposite insights in to my leadership style, but I feel that the small scale nature of this study means that I cannot meaningfully canvass all potentially useful views. Denscombe (1998) highlights four main research methods – questionnaires, interviews, observations and documents.
Bullock (1989) adds a fifth option – standardised tests and measures. The nature of my study rules out the use of documents or observation. I was, by definition, seeking the views of others and as such needed to gather data which represented other people’s views of my leadership. There are clear benefits and downfalls of the remaining three choices. Interviews can be seen to provide rich, vital information with greater depth (Haralambos and Holborn 2004). They can appear essentially simple to undertake – an assumption which is not always accurate.
They require thought, planning, and a level of objectivity from the researcher which requires discipline and planning. In my case, they were an attractive option for several reasons; I have relatively easy access to the relevant subjects (in terms of both proximity and consent). They are also useful for acquiring ‘subjective’ date – i. e. that which is based on emotions, feelings, rather than objective facts. In terms of this study, I am actively seeking a subjective view.
The main drawback with the use of interviews in this situation is that of confidentiality. I do not feel it would have been realistic to ask social workers and team leaders to honestly and openly respond to me personally about my leadership style. The intimate nature of an interview situation, and the judgments of my own performance that I would be seeking, would place subjects in a very difficult position and would be highly unlikely to reveal accurate and honest results. This method would learly raise issues around the power dynamic between leaders and followers, and potential for abuse within this relationship (Lishman 1998). I would certainly have felt uncomfortable with the implications of trying to elicit information in this manner. It might have been possible to use a third party to undertake interviews on an anonymous basis, but this was too resource intensive for a study of this size. I chose in the end to use a questionnaire to gather data. One of the main advantages of using a questionnaire was the possibility for complete anonymity.
I felt that anonymity was an essential requirement to allow subjects to express themselves honestly with no fear of any consequences. Given the group I was attempting to target, I was able to avoid some of the potential challenges of using questionnaires as a data collection tool. I had easy access to the subject group and I did not need to seek any additional permissions (given that I was the subject, and my project was already sanctioned by my employer). The use of a questionnaire also allowed me to select a larger sample, and would provide standardised data.
Each participant in the project would answer an identical set of questions, allowing for possible direct comparisons of responses, and also allowing for an element of quantitative analysis of the responses. There is much written about the pros and cons of both qualitative and quantitative data. Trochim (2006) feels that there is not always a clear distinction between the two. “All quantitative data is based upon qualitative judgments; and all qualitative data can be described and manipulated numerically” Trochim 2006 My final questionnaire can be seen to contain elements of both.
It features fixed questions which can be analysed in a quantitative basis. It also allows respondents to ‘rate’ different aspects of my leadership, enabling qualitative judgments to be drawn from the data. This is what Denscombe (1998) describes as ‘opinion’ questions, enabling respondents to express values or make judgments. Within the leadership literature, many authors have designed and used tools to test their particular approach. These tools are often complex, and have moved far from asking direct ‘opinion’ questions about leadership style.
Tests need to try and achieve an objective analysis of leadership style. If a subject is able to directly predict the outcome of the test from the nature of the questions then they may be less likely to give honest responses, particularly if those responses might result in a negative self assessment. As such, researchers have developed questionnaires, based on large scale studies and large quantities of data – for example, Fiedler’s Least Preferred Co-worker (LPC) scale (Fiedler 1967), which he uses to measure a person’s leadership style within his contingency approach.
My final questionnaire (Appendix 1) is an amalgamation of several distinct tests highlighted by Peter Northouse in his 2007 work. I have chosen to use these tried and tested tools to enable me to make comparisons of my own leadership with reference to several of the leadership styles I have written about above – namely, Trait Approach, Behavioural Approach, and Transformational Approach. I have also used Fielder’s LPC to undertake a self assessment with respect to Contingency theory. I chose not to attempt to ‘invent’ a new assessment tool, mainly on grounds of available time and complexity.
In some senses, to try and do so would be pointless given the time and resources which have been invested in creating the tools already in existence. As I have already highlighted, my sample selection was those workers and team leaders whom I line manage. I sent out a total of thirteen questionnaires, and received back ten. This is a 77% return rate, which is certainly, high, though given the nature of the sample, a higher than average response rate would be expected. Questionnaires were sent out via email, which involved no cost.
I asked participants to return their responses on paper, which gave the opportunity for total anonymity. This was I believed essential given that I was involved with all the sample group in a line management capacity, and it would be unrealistic to expect respondents to comment openly and honestly without the reassurance of anonymity. Given that my questionnaire was based on other standardised tools, data was analysed according to those tools. For the ‘Trait’ element of the questionnaire, I averaged the responses for all questions and identified the difference between respondents’ scores and my own response.
For the ‘Behavioural’ element I separated the respondent scores for ‘task’ behaviour and ‘relationship’ behaviours, and converted them to percentages for easy comparison. For the ‘Transformational’ element of the questionnaire, I did the same. All the respondent data is set out in table form (Appendix 2) and was compared to the results of a questionnaire I completed myself. I found the data produced form my study extremely revealing. From a list of ten positive leadership traits, I achieved an overall rating of 82%, compared with self assessment of 72%.
My own rating was lower than the average respondents score in all but one area – ‘Trustworthy’. Other notable differences were the ‘Friendly’ and ‘Outgoing’ statements, where I rated myself considerably lower than the respondents. The data indicates that respondents to my questionnaire appear to agree that I demonstrate many of the qualities associated with good leadership. The fact that my lowest rating was around being ‘Trustworthy’ was of concern, particularly as I rated myself higher in this area than all others.
There is a clear difference in my perception amongst colleagues and my self-perception in this area. Questions 11 to 30 in my assessment tool were concerned with leadership behaviour and style. The analysis of this group of questions results in two scores, which measure two different aspects of leadership behaviours – those related to task and those related to relationships. The averaged scores indicate that my leadership style is in the moderately high range for both task and relationship behaviours. With regard to relationship behaviours, the score was just above the moderate range but just below the high range.
In respect of Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid, this would place my leadership style in the ‘Team Leadership’ area (Blake and Mouton 1985). As Shelley points out, there is no one best style within this model, as different settings require different approaches (Shelley 2010). However, from a personal perspective, and within my workplace, I would certainly aspire to the ‘Team Leadership’ approach, which balances employee needs for involvement and motivation whilst maintaining a focus on organisational goals.
In the latest versions of this model, Grid International (2008), a company set up by Blake and Mouton, call this style of leadership ‘Sound’ and suggest that it is a desirable goal . My self assessment in this area agreed with the survey responses. However, I rated myself higher on both task (six percentage points higher) and relationship (two percentage points higher) scales than my survey responses, indicating that there is some distance between my aspirations and achievements thus far. The majority of the respondents to my survey were social workers, who receive day to day supervision from their team leaders, whom I manage.
As such, I have less direct contact with them around routine ‘task’ behaviours than their team leaders. This may explain the difference in my perception of task behaviours against that of the respondents. These findings were particularly interesting for me. My assumption prior to embarking upon this assignment was that I was effective in managing task related behaviours, and less successful in addressing the relationship elements of leadership. The results of this element of the survey suggest that I am operating effectively in both areas, but slightly more in reference to relationship oriented behaviours.
Questions 31 to 39 in my questionnaire looked at Transformational Leadership. The questions effectively ask respondents to rate the extent to which the subject exhibits Transformational Leadership Styles, Transactional Leadership Styles and Passive Avoidant Styles (Bass 1985). Respondents rated my Transformational Leadership Style at 66%, which is considerably higher than I would have predicted. I have not previously seen myself as effective at motivating followers, and as such this was a pleasant surprise. My Transactional Style was rated at 59%.
Both these were proportionately in line with my self assessment, though the latter produced slightly higher figures, as in the case of the behavioural questions highlighted above. Both my self assessment and that of my respondents rated my Passive Avoidant Leadership Style as very low (25%) which is pleasing. There may be a few extreme situations where this style can be effective, but I do not believe this to be the case in my employment setting, particularly at the current time when my teams lack experienced workers.
Prior to completing this assignment, my view of Transformational Leadership, limited as it was, was somewhat distorted, seeing it as an evangelical, quasi-religious approach to leadership. Gaining more familiarity with the literature has changed my view somewhat. Whilst there is an element of evangelism in much Transformational rhetoric, the basic principles of role modelling, intellectual rigour and focusing on relationships within the workplace, resonate with my own style to a much greater extent than I had realised. The final element of my research relates to the Contingency Approach to leadership.
This was measured via the Least Preferred Co-Worker (LPC) Scale (Fiedler 1984 cited in Northouse 2007). This scale is considered to be quite stable and consistent as a measure. I completed it four times, with an average score of 63. 75. This score is at the very top of moderate or at the bottom of high on the LPC scale. A high LPC indicates the subject is thought to be more relationship oriented than task oriented, and will prioritise relationship issues before attending to tasks. Mid LPC indicates the subject is independent of task concerns, or of how they are viewed by others.
This slight preference for the relationship focused elements of work is consistent with the results highlighted above. It seems safe to rely on this as an assessment of my leadership behaviour, given its corroboration within different types of assessment tool, and it’s consistency across my self assessment and the assessment of my colleagues. The analysis of the results of this small scale research project has raised several points of interest for me as an individual and as a leader. Prior to starting the project, I had no real knowledge or understanding of theories of leadership and management.
If I am honest, I was probably quite sceptical of how one could provide theoretical frameworks for something as complex and personal as leadership. This scepticism was misplaced, and I have found the process of researching leadership styles interesting and highly informative. Asking for the views of those you manage and lead about your own performance and ability as a leader is quite an anxiety provoking activity. The thought of discovering that everyone thinks you are useless is difficult to dismiss. Thankfully in this case that did not happen and the feedback I received was both thought provoking and pleasing.
Pleasing because of its positive nature, and thought provoking because it offered new perspectives to me with regard to how I lead. Rather than painting a picture of slightly cold and highly task focused manager, as I had imagined, the feedback suggested that my leadership practice is much more focused on relationships, motivation and insuring those with whom I work are supported and encouraged. Clearly, there are areas that could be improved upon within this study. My sample size could have been larger, and if resources had allowed it, it would have been useful to gain the views of those outside my organisation.
There are also other areas of leadership theory against which I could have assessed myself. However, as a first step, I was happy with the scope and results of this study. I have found the examination of the literature around leadership, and the results of my research project to be illuminating. The scope of the study was intentionally large, which has both pros and cons. Positively, it has enabled me to read widely around the main theoretical approaches to leadership, and gain a broad understanding of the theoretical concepts and the development of leadership theory over time.
The down side to this is that I have not been able to write in any depth about a particular approach, given the limitations of scale of this study. There are also some areas of leadership theory which I have not had the opportunity to touch, on, most notably, the functional theories of Adair (2009) and Psychodynamic approaches to leadership. The Psychodynamic approach is one which I have enjoyed in previous academic studies, and is one which I find academically and conceptually interesting. The results of my small scale piece of research have also provided me with very interesting findings, which I believe will impact on my practice as a eader and manager. It has demonstrated to me that there is a difference in my self perception and how those whom I manage and lead perceive me. Overall, I am pleased with what the research says about me. It has also changed my perception of what an effective leader looks like. I feel far more inclined to think about the relational and motivational side of leadership, as described in the Transformational approach. I had previously been discouraged by my perception that Transformational leadership was solely about charisma, and an almost evangelical preaching approach to change.
Whilst I believe there is an element of missionary zeal in some of the literature, this should not distract from other aspects of this approach which seek to stimulate, inspire and role model followers in to achieving more than they otherwise might. Given the current economic and political uncertainty, this may be particularly apposite; Hay (2007) characterises Transformational leadership as being better suited to times of change and volatility, while transactional leadership styles are suited to maintaining stability.
Because my personal research has suggested that I am perceived as being more motivated towards the relationship elements of leadership, I feel this gives me license to focus slightly more on the task elements of my work, which ironically is that element which has in the past appeared more straightforward. It may be that my previous perception that I was more successful in leading on task elements of the work has led me to concentrate less in this area. The completion of this piece leads my thoughts to possible future areas of research and personal development. My research study focused on how I lead within my own department.
Given the significance of integrated and multi-agency working on the current social care agenda, I would be interested to understand further how leadership is perceived across different agencies and within different settings. This in turn might lead to insights in to how integrated services might be successfully developed over the coming years. This has been a very personal study, and can be seen as the foundation for my own development as a leader, as well as a possible stepping stone to further research. References Adair, John (2009) Effective Leadership London. Pan Macmillan. Bass, B.
M (1985) Leadership and performance beyond expectations New York. Free Press. Blake, R, Mouton, J. (1985). The Managerial Grid III: The Key to Leadership Excellence. Houston. Gulf Publishing Co. Blanchard, K, Zigarmi, P. Zigarmi, D (2004) Leadership and the one minute manager. London. Harper Collins. Bullock, R. (1989) Social Research in Kahan, B. (Ed) (1989) Child Care Research, Policy and Practice. London. Hodder and Stoughton. Burns, J. M. (1978) Leadership. New York. Harper & Row. HM Government (2003) Every Child Matters Green Paper http://publications. everychildmatters. gov. uk/eOrderingDownload/CM5860. pdf retrieved 21/03/2010.
Denscombe, M. (1998) The Good Research Guide for small scale research projects. Buckingham. Open University Press. Department for Education and Skills (2006) Championing Children London. HMSO. Department for Education and Skills (2009) Building a safe, confident future. The final report of the Social Work Task Force 2009. London HMSO http://publications. dcsf. gov. uk/eOrderingDownload/01114-2009DOM-EN. pdf retrieved on 20th February 2010. Doyle, M. E. and Smith, M. K. (2001) Classical leadership, the encyclopaedia of informal education, http://www. infed. org/leadership/traditional_leadership. htm retrieved on 01/03/2010.
Fiedler, F. E. (1967). A theory of leadership effectiveness. NY. McGraw-Hill. Gill, Roger (2006) Theory and practice of leadership London. Sage. Grid International (2008) http://www. gridod. com/page. php? id=30 Retrieved on 21/03/2010. Gross, Richard D (1987) Psychology. The science of mind and behaviour. London. Hodder and Stoughton. Haralambos, M and Holborn, M (2004) Sociology. Themes and Perspectives. London. Harper Collins. Hay, Iain Ph. D. (2007) Leadership of Stability and Leadership of volatility: Transactional and Transformational Leaderships Compared Academic Leadership – The Online Journal Volume 4 – Issue 4 http://www. ork911. com/cgi-bin/leadership/jump. cgi? ID=10122 Retrieved on 21/03/2010 HM Government (1989) The Children Act 1989 http://www. opsi. gov. uk/acts/acts1989/ukpga_19890041_en_1. Retrieved on 13/03/2010. HM Government (2003) Every Child Matters http://publications. everychildmatters. gov. uk/eOrderingDownload/CM5860. pdf Retrieved on 13/03/2010. HM Government (2004) The Children Act 2004 http://www. opsi. gov. uk/acts/acts2004/ukpga_20040031_en_1 Retrieved on 13/03/2010. HM Government (2006) Working Together to Safeguard Children A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children HMSO. London.
Holmes, Shelley (2010) Blake and Mouton Leadership Grid http://www. leadership-and-motivation-training. com/blake-and-mouton. html Retrieved on 21/03/2010. House of Commons Health Committee (2003) The Victoria Climbie Enquiry Report. http://www. publications. parliament. uk/pa/cm200203/cmselect/cmhealth/570/570. pdf Retrieved on 13/03/2010. Kanungo, Rabindra N (2001) Ethical value of transactional and transformational leaders Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences. http://www. work911. com/cgi-bin/leadership/jump. cgi? ID=10119 Retrieved 21/02/2010 Laming, Lord (2003) The Victoria Climbie Enquiry Report http://www. h. gov. uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/documents/digitalasset/dh_110711. pdf Retrieved on 13/03/2010. Laming, Lord (2009) The Protection of Children in England: A progress report. http://publications. everychildmatters. gov. uk/eOrderingDownload/HC-330. pdf Retrieved on 13/03/2010. Lishman, J. Personal and Professional Development in Adams, R. Dominelli, L. Payne, M (Eds) Social Work (1998) Themes, issues and critical debates. London. Macmillan. Lussier, Robert N & Achua, Christopher F (2007) – Leadership. Theory, Application and Skill Development. Cengage. McCall, M. W. Jr. and Lombardo, M. M. 1983). Off the track: Why and how successful executives get derailed. Greenboro, NC: Centre for Creative Leadership Northouse, Peter G (2007) Leadership Theory and Practice. London. Sage. Office for national Statistics (2009) http://www. statistics. gov. uk/default. asp Retrieved on 20th March 2010 Research in practice (2003) A review of literature in leadership. http://www. rip. org. uk/changeprojects/documents/leadership/Leadership%20lit%20review retrieved on 20th February 2010 Stogdill, R. M. (1974). Handbook of leadership: A survey of the literature. New York. Free Press. Transformationalleadership. et (2007) The Transformational Leadership Report http://www. transformationalleadership. net/products/TransformationalLeadershipReport. pdf retrieved on 21/03/2010 Trochim, William M. K. (2006) Types of Data http://www. socialresearchmethods. net/kb/datatype. php retrieved on 9th march 2010. Van Maurik, John (2001) Writers on Leadership. London. Penguin. Zaccaro, S. J, Horn, Z. N. J (2003) Leadership Theory and Practice: Fostering an effective symbiosis. The Leadership Quarterly 14 2003: 769 – 806. Zaccaro, S. J. (2007). Trait-based perspectives of leadership. American Psychologist, 62, 6-16. Appendix 1 Data Analysis.
Questionnaire Analysis Questions 1 to 10 – Trait (table 1) DescriptionR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9R10AverageSelfDifference Articulate889999109788. 68+ 0. 6 Perceptive86997897787. 87+ 0. 8 Self-confident99998799898. 67+ 1. 6 Self assured89898799688. 17+ 0. 9 Persistent97998897898. 37+ 1. 3 Determined88898898898. 38+ 0. 3 Trustworthy9510967107887. 99- 1. 1 Dependable8810987107778. 18+ 0. 1 Friendly9691075107797. 95+ 2. 9 Outgoing971010791097108. 86+2. 8 Average (as a %)857391927675957973858272 Questions 11 to 30 – Style/Behaviour (table 2) RespondentTask Behaviours ScoreRelationship Behaviours Score R145 (90%)46 (92%
R237 (74%)31 (62%) R345 (90%)43 (86%) R437 (74%)43 (86%) R538. 5 (77%)39 (78%) R630 (60%)33. 5 (67%) R734. 5 (69%)41. 5 (83%) R831 (62%)40 (80%) R934 (68%)35 (70%) R1036 (72%)42 (84%) Average:36. 8 (73. 6%) (moderately high range)39. 4 (78. 8%) (moderately high range)Relationship behaviours score is at the top of the moderately high range and the bottom of the high range. Self40 (80%) (high range)41 (82%) (high range) Questions 31 to 39 – Transformational Leadership (table 3) RespondentTransformational Leadership ScoreTransactional Leadership ScorePassive/Avoidant Leadership Score R115/20 (75%)4/8 (50%)2/8 (25%)
R28/20 (40%)3/8 (38%)3/8 (38%) R317/20 (85%)6/8 (75%)2/8 (25%) R416/20 (80%)5/8 (63%)2/8 (25%) R513/20 (65%)4/8 (50%)2/8 (25%) R6No response6/8 (76%)1/8 (13%) R77/8 (88%)No responseNo response R89/20 (45%)4/8 (50%)3/8 (38%) R910/20 (50%)5/8 (63%)2/8 (25%) R1014/20 (70%)5/8 (63%)0/8 (0%) Average66%59%24% Self15/20 (75%)5/8 (63%)2/8 (25%) Contingency Approach Measured via the Least Preferred Co-worker Measure (LPC). LPC Measure – completed four times – scores of 62 (CL) 63 (HC) 70 (LB) 60 (JO) Average Score: 63. 75, which is at the very top of moderate LPC or at the bottom of High LPC.
A high LPC indicates the subject is thought to be more relationship oriented than task oriented. Mid LPC indicates the subject is independent. Table of Comparisons RespondentTrait Score (Average)Task Behaviours ScoreRelationship Behaviour ScoresTransformational Leadership ScoreTransactional Leadership ScorePassive Avoidant Leadership Score R1859092755025 R2737462403838 R3919086857525 R4927486806325 R5767778655025 R6756067No response7613 R795698388No responseNo response R8796280455038 R9736870506325 R10857284 70630 Average82. 4 73. 6 (moderately high range) 78. 8 (moderately high range)665924
Self728082756325 Appendix 2 Sample Questionnaire Leadership Questionnaire Please read the following descriptions of leadership qualities and rate the subject of this questionnaire as to the extent to which he/she fits the description. Please circle the number you feel best fits your view. 1 = Not at all > 5= Sometimes> 10= All the time 1. Articulate: Communicates effectively with others 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 2. Perceptive: Discerning and insightful 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.
Self confident: believes in oneself and one’s ability 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4. Self assured: Secure with self, free of doubts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5. Persistent: Stays fixed on the goals despite interference 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6. Determined: Takes a firm stand, acts with certainty 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7. Trustworthy: Acts believably, inspires confidence 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 . Dependable: is consistent and reliable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9. Friendly: Shows kindness and warmth 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 10. Outgoing: Talks freely, gets along with others 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Please read the following statements concerning types of leadership behaviour, and circle one of the words below each question which describes how often you think the subject demonstrates that behaviour. 11. Tells team members what they are supposed to do
NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 12. Acts in a friendly manner with members of the team NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 13. Sets standards of performance for team members NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 14. Helps others feel comfortable in the team NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 15. Makes suggestions about how to solve problems NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 16. Responds favourably to suggestions made by others NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 17. Makes his perspective clear to others NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 18. Treats others fairly
NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 19. Develops a plan of action for the team. NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 20. Behaves in a predictable manner toward group members NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 21. Defines roles and responsibilities for team members NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 22. Communicates actively with team members NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 23. Clarifies his role within the team NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 24. Shows concern for the well being of others NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 25. Provides a plan for how the work is to be done
NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 26. Shows flexibility in making decisions NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 27. Provides criteria for what is expected of the team NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 28. Discloses thoughts and feelings to team members NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 29. Encourages team members to do high quality work NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 30. Helps team members get along NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 31. Goes beyond self interest for the good of the team NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 32. Considers the moral and ethical consequences of decisions
NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 33. Talks optimistically about the future NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 34. Re-examines critical assumptions to question whether they are appropriate NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 35. Helps others to develop their strengths NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 36. Makes it clear what one can expect when performance goals are achieved NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 37. Keeps track of all mistakes NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 38. Waits for things to go wrong before taking action NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 39. Avoids making decisions
NeverSeldomOccasionallyOftenAlways 40. You have reached the end. Thank you very much for your help in completing this questionnaire. If you would like to make any comments, then please do so below. Appendix 3 Email to research participants Dear Colleague, As some of you may know, I am studying for a Post Graduate Diploma in Leadership and Management for Integrated Services. As part of the course, I am currently completing an assignment. The assignment is an audit and analysis of my own leadership and management skills, in reference to several classical theories of leadership.
In order to critically evaluate my leadership skills, it is important that I get some feedback from my colleagues. As such, I am undertaking a small scale research project as part of my assignment. This consists of a questionnaire, designed to assess leadership skills against various different theoretical models of leadership. I have attached a copy of the questionnaire to this email. As someone with whom I work closely, I am very interested in your perceptions of me as a manager and leader. I would be very grateful if you could print the questionnaire, complete it and return it to me at the office.
There are 39 questions – they are quite straightforward and I estimate it should take 10 to 15 minutes to complete. I realise you are all very busy, but would appreciate it if you can spare some time to help out. Please be as honest as you can don’t put your name on the completed questionnaire – they should all be anonymous. I will contact you again when the assignment is complete and give you the option to view the completed document. If you have any questions, then please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would grateful if you could return the completed questionnaire to me by Friday 12th March. Thanks again for your help. Paul Shallcross