Abstract Leadership is an important aspect of managing. The ability to lead effectively is one of the keys to being an effective manager. Leaders act to help a group attain objectives through the maximum application of its capabilities.
Organizations may be in a state of equilibrium, with forces pushing for change on the one hand and forces resisting change by attempting to maintain status quo on the other. Kurt Lewin expressed this phenomenon in his field force theory, which suggests that equilibrium is maintained by driving forces and restraining forces (Lewin, 1951). Such equilibrium could be attained only by capable leaders. Most times, change in an organizational context triggers organizational conflicts.
There is always a resistance to change within the work force. In this paper, we would be discussing on the exercise of leadership and change in the appropriate realms. Leaders envision the future. They inspire the organization members and chart the course of the organization.
Chrysler’s Lee Iacocca and General Electric’s Jack Welch have provided a vision for their companies. Leaders must instill values – whether they are concern for quality, honesty, and calculated risk taking or concern for employees and customers (Main, 1987). Literature Review Leadership has different meanings to various authors. Leadership could be defined as influence, that is, the art of process of influencing people so that they will strive willingly and enthusiastically toward the achievement of group goals (Bass, 1981).
In an attempt to figure out the self placement of my leadership development, I could find myself highly task oriented. I gained satisfaction from seeing tasks performed. I always demanded the tasks to be performed satisfactorily and on time within my group. But I was disappointed that I couldn’t build the trust within my group as a result of which the task completion was mostly delayed.
Sometimes the group members would not listen to me. This made me to analyze the kind of leadership style and approach that would be better for me to follow and my leadership development. Fiedler’s Contingency Approach to Leadership provided some learning about the critical dimensions of leadership situation and the two major styles of leadership. This also gave me a clear picture of the vision of the leader that I would like to become.
In a social awareness program group, I was the team leader and had the responsibility to assign tasks for my team members. But due to some reason, the tasks were always being delayed. They were not of expected quality too. Moreover, the team members always remained unhappy.
They often did not follow my commands. As a result, I was depressed and my motivation levels went down. I had a feeling of isolation within the group. I felt that my presence as a leader was not at all recognized by the members.
This made my behavior against the team members to be highly reactive. I got frustrated and often shouted at my team members. This produced no better results. They grew more and more unhappy and failed to establish perfection in the tasks provided to them.
Over time, I thought that there was something fundamentally wrong and started analyzing to figure out the same. During my analysis, I went through the two approaches to leadership: Fiedler’s Contingency Approach and The Path-Goal Approach. I compared my leadership style with the critical dimensions of leadership situation mentioned by Fiedler. I realized that the leader-member relations within my team had to undergo improvement.
Also I had the opportunity to compare my style of leading with the two styles suggested by Fiedler. By doing this, I could figure out the developments I was required to make in order to have a better followership. I learnt that I had to think proactive and provide more of participation for my team members. The interpersonal relationships too had to be improved.
Although their approach to leadership theory is primarily one of analyzing leadership style, Fred E. Fiedler and his associates at the University of Illinois have suggested a contingency theory of leadership (Fiedler, 1967). The theory holds that people become leaders not only because of the attributes of their personalities but also because of various situational factors and the interactions between leaders and group members. On the basis of his studies, Fiedler described three critical dimensions of the leadership situation that help determine what style of leadership will be most effective (Miner, 1982):Position power is the degree to which the power of a position, as distinguished from other sources of power, such as personality or expertise, enables a leader to get group members to comply with directions; in the case of managers, this is the power arising from organizational authority.
As Fiedler points out, a leader with clear and considerable position power can obtain good followership more easily than one without such power (Bowers, 1975). With the dimension of Task structure, Fiedler had in mind the extent to which tasks can be clearly spelled out and people held responsible for them. If tasks are clear (rather than vague and unstructured), the quality of performance can be more easily controlled and group members can be held more definitely responsible for performance. Fiedler regarded the dimension of Leader-member relations as the most important from a leader’s point of view, since position power and task structure may be largely under the control of an enterprise.
It has to do with the extent to which group members like, trust, and are willing to follow a leader (Yuki, 1981). To approach his study, Fiedler set forth two major styles of leadership. One of these is primarily task-oriented; that is, the leader gains satisfaction from seeing tasks performed. The other is oriented primarily toward achieving good interpersonal relations and attaining a position of personal prominence.
Favorableness of situation was defined by Fiedler as the degree to which a given situation enables a leader to exert influence over a group. To measure leadership styles and determine whether a leader is chiefly task-oriented, Fiedler used an unusual testing technique (Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1991). He based his findings on two sources: (1) scores on the least preferred coworker (LPC) scale – these are ratings made by people in a group as to those with whom they would least like to work; and (2) scores on the assumed similarity between opposites (ASO) scale–ratings based on the degree to which leaders see group members as being like themselves, on the assumption that people will like best, and work best with, those who are seen as most like themselves. Today the LPC scale is most commonly used in research.
In developing this scale, Fiedler asked respondents to identify the traits of a person with whom they could work least well (Fiedler, 1967). On the basis of his studies with this method, as well as studies done by others, Fiedler found that people who rated their coworkers high (that is, in favorable terms) were those who derived major satisfaction from successful interpersonal relationships. People who rated their “least preferred coworker” low (that is, in unfavorable terms) were seen as deriving their major satisfaction from task performance. From his research, Fiedler came to some interesting conclusions (Ingrassia, 1985).
Recognizing that personal perceptions may be unclear and even quite inaccurate, Fiedler nonetheless found the following to be true: Leadership performance depends as much on the organization as it depends on the leader’s own attributes. Except perhaps for the unusual case, it is simply not meaningful to speak of an effective leader or an ineffective leader; we can only speak of a leader who tends to be effective in one situation and ineffective in another. If we wish to increase organizational and group effectiveness we must learn not only how to train leaders more effectively but also how to build an organizational environment in which the leader can perform well (Indvik, 1986). In a highly structured situation, such as in the military during a war, where the leader has strong position power and good relations with members, there is a favorable situation in which task orientation is most appropriate.
The other extreme, an unfavorable situation with moderately poor relations, an unstructured task, and weak position power, also suggests task orientation by the leader, who may reduce anxiety or ambiguity that could be created by the loosely structured situation. Between the two extremes, the suggested approach emphasizes cooperation and good relations with people.;There are many leaders whom I consider my guides. Some of them are Herbert Kelleher, Mikhail Gorbachev and Marisa Bellisario.
The leadership styles of these people gave me an understanding as to how an effective leader has to be and the qualities and leadership styles of an effective leader.;Let us consider the leadership style of Herbert Kelleher, the chairman of South West Airlines (Business Week, Sept. 1984). He attempts to create a family feeling among his employees by remembering their names and personally sending out birthday cards.
In an attempt to stay competitive in the deregulated airline industry, he asked for and received considerable concessions from employees and their union. His hands-on leadership style won him the respect and followership of his employees. The austerity measures apply equally to management and employees. His office, for example, is in a barracks-style building.
Leading by example those who follow him, he seems concerned about the tasks to be done and the people who work for him. His leadership style is also congruent with the airline’s policy of providing friendly service by keeping costs low.;A new era began in 1987 when former Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev initiated the policies of Glasnost, which provided openness and opportunities for critics, and perestroika, which promoted a restructuring of the economy. He probably initiated more changes in the latter part of the 1980s than any other person (Galuszka, 1990).
;In order to understand the person, it is necessary to look at his background and discover how he came to power and what kinds of leadership traits he possessed. Gorbachev came from the southern farming region. Those who know him describe him as incorruptible, with a dislike for Stalinism. In a sense, he was an “outsider” who was very effective in networking, which began at Moscow University and continued throughout his political life.
His eager-to-please style helped him to make contacts with powerful people. It has been reported that he read Dale Carnegie’s American best-seller How to Win Friends and Influence People to improve his style (Hayes, 1990). His dealings with people may have helped him to overcome failures such as his farm policies, which worked in one area but were very unsuccessful in other regions. Whether the changes in the former Soviet Union were the sole result of Mikhail Gorbachev’s leadership style or due to the changing world order is hard to say.
It may be simply that he was the right person for that particular time.;Women as managers use a different style than men. One study found that women see leadership as changing the self-interest of followers into concern for the total enterprise by using interpersonal skills and personal traits to motivate subordinates (Rosener, 1990). This interactive leadership style involves sharing information and power, inspiring participation, and letting people know that they are important.
Men, in contrast, are more likely to see leadership as a sequence of transactions with their subordinates. Moreover, they more often use control of resources and the authority of their position to motivate their people. This does not mean that all successful women and men use the respective leadership styles. Certainly, some men use “interactive leadership” in guiding their subordinates, and some women use the traditional command structure in directing their followers.
;My vision of an effective leader lies in Marisa Bellisario. In 1981, when Marisa Bellisario became Director and CEO of ITALTEL, a state-owned telecommunication equipment manufacturer in Italy, the company was in trouble: high loses, large debts, insufficient research and development, and an over staffed, unionized organization (Hodges, 1985). Ms. Bellisario took some major steps to turn the company around and to improve productivity.
Some of the examples of the new direction are,;1. Restructuring the organization in to business units.2. Reducing the number of employees by more than one-third between 1980 and 1985, which was accomplished through open communication and co operation with the union.
3. Leading the company in to electronics which required re-training of the employees.4. Developing a program to upgrade low-skilled women in the work force.
5. Pushing for intra-European co operation with companies in France, England and the then West Germany.6. Improving efficiency through innovation in products and manufacturing processes.
;Leadership such as this has to be analyzed in terms of the characteristics of the leader (technical, human, conceptual and design skills); good relation with the followers, especially the unionized work force; and the situation, in the early 1980s that demanded a strong leader to deal with the crisis. This shows that a leader also requires a good lot of emotional intelligence.;There are several theories on leadership behavior and styles. Leaders were seen as applying three basic styles.
The autocratic leader commands and expects compliance, is dogmatic and positive, and leads by the ability to withhold or give rewards and punishment. The democratic or participative leader consults with subordinates on proposed actions and decisions and encourages participation from them. This type of leader ranges from the person who does not take action without subordinates’ concurrence to the one who makes decision but consults with subordinates before doing so.;The free-rein leader uses his or her power very little, if at all, giving subordinates a high degree of independence in their operations.
Such leaders depend largely on subordinates to set their own goals and the means of achieving them, and they see their roles as one of aiding the operations of followers by furnishing them with information and acting primarily as a contact with the group’s external environment.;There are variations within this simple classification of leadership styles. Some autocratic leaders are seen as “benevolent autocrats.” Although they listen considerately to their followers’ opinions before making a decision, the decision is their own.
They may be willing to hear and consider subordinates’ ideas and concerns, but when a decision is to be made, they may be more autocratic than benevolent.;A variation of the participative leader is the person who is supportive. Leaders in this category may look upon their task as not only consulting with followers and carefully considering their opinions but also doing all they can to support subordinates in accomplishing their duties. The use of any style will depend on the situation.
A manager may be highly autocratic in an emergency; one can hardly imagine a fire chief holding a long meeting with the crew to consider the best way of fighting fire. Managers may also be autocratic when they alone have the answers to certain questions.;A leader may gain considerable knowledge and a better commitment on the part of the persons involved by consulting with subordinates. This is true in developing verifiable objectives under systems of managing by objectives.
Furthermore, a manager dealing with a group of research scientists may give them free rein in developing their inquiries and experiments. But the same manager might be quite autocratic in enforcing a rule stipulating that employees wear a protective covering when handling certain potentially dangerous chemicals.;The Path-goal theory suggests that the main function of the leader is to clarify and set goals with subordinates, help them find the best path for achieving the goals, and remove obstacles. Proponents of this approach have studied leadership in a variety of situations (Indvik, 1986).
Leadership behavior is categorized into four groups:;1. Supportive Leadership behavior gives consideration to the needs of subordinates, shows a concern for their well-being, and creates a pleasant organizational climate. It has the greatest impact on subordinates’ performance when they are frustrated and dissatisfied.2.
Participative Leadership allows subordinates to influence the decisions of their superiors and can result in increased motivation.3. Instrumental Leadership gives subordinates rather specific guidance and clarifies what is expected of them; this includes aspects of planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling by the leader.4.
Achievement-oriented Leadership involves setting challenging goals, seeking improvement of performance, and having confidence that subordinates will achieve high goals.;To conclude, leadership is the art or process of influencing people so that they contribute willingly and enthusiastically toward group goals. Leadership requires followership. The approach to leadership, built on the assumption that leaders are the product of given situations, focuses on the study of situations.
Fiedler’s contingency approach takes into account the position power of the leader, the structure of the task, and the relations between the leader and group members. This learning gave me the ultimate understanding that within a group, there has to be proper interpersonal relations developed between the leader and the followers and good emotional intelligence to be maintained by the leader. This would make the followers to like, trust and follow the leader. The conclusion is that there is no one best leadership style and that managers can be successful if placed in appropriate situations.
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