LEADERS AND LEADERSHIP

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Background

All background materials (as well as materials referenced on the home page) are required unless designated as optional or general reference materials.

People have wondered about what makes a great leader since the beginning of recorded history – and undoubtedly long before. The formal study of leadership dates back to the 1950’s, and is probably one of the most researched topics in Organizational Behavior. Today, after decades of study, we believe that:

  • Leaders are made, not born, and leadership can be taught.
  • Leadership occurs in all kinds of organizations and at all levels.
  • To be a great leader, one does not have to be charismatic.
  • There is no one right way to lead that will fit all situations.

In this module, we will review the major theories of leadership that persist to this day. Although some are more complex than others, each seems to have a nugget of truth and adds to our overall understanding of how leadership works and what makes great leadership. The following chart summarizes the major approaches or models that we will cover.

Leadership Model Principles
Trait Model Leaders have special innate qualities. Certain people are “natural leaders.”
Behavioral Models Leaders are concerned primarily with task or relationships, though the best leaders are concerned with both.
Contingency Models Different leader behaviors are effective for different types of followers and situations.
Influence (Power) Models Leadership consists of influencing others.
Transformational Models Leaders are visionaries who change organizations and people’s behavior.

Let’s begin with a PowerPoint presentation that will provide some background on these different models:

Eveland, J.D. (n.d.) Leadership. Trident University International.

The exercise of leadership, by definition, involves compelling people to do something they might not otherwise have done. The manner in which they carry out these tasks varies, however. The degree of motivation and enthusiasm with which a follower performs his or her work is related to the type of leadership that is used. Here are the most common reactions by followers:

  • Commitment is characterized by the internalization of a leader’s goal or request and the follower’s decision to carry it out effectively. Frequently, the follower will go beyond what the leader has asked or expects – in other words, goes the extra mile.
  • Compliance is an apathetic response where the follower does what the leader asks, but exerts no more than the required amount of effort.
  • Resistance is a reaction where the follower opposed the leader‘s direction and avoids carrying it out (passively through avoidance or aggressively through rebellion).

Let’s take a look at power, which is closely tied to leadership. Review the sources of power in the following video presentation:

https://youtu.be/eSb06mh7EHA

Retrieved April 2017 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSb06mh7EHA.

Now, consider reactions to leadership’s exercise of power (by type):

Type Most Common Reaction
Reward Compliance
Coercive Compliance or resistance
Legitimate Compliance
Referent Commitment
Expert Commitment

This chart would indicate that the most a leader can hope for if he relies on the power received from holding a position (legitimate, reward, coercive) is compliance with directives. If leaders rely too heavily on coercive power, they risk meeting resistance. If, instead, a leader needs to have the follower’s commitment (the knowledge that a follower will comply with directives regardless of whether or not the follower is being monitored or not), then the leader must rely on personal sources of power – such as referent or expert power.

While commitment is very often the most desired reaction, sometimes compliance is enough to accomplish the leader’s objectives. Resistance, however, is something all leaders should want to avoid as it could render them totally ineffective.

Contingency Models

The Eveland PowerPoint presentation also covered contingency models of leadership. Contingency models are based on the idea that the most effective leadership style is one that matches the demands of the situation. There are three basic models of contingency leadership that we will cover in this module. Each has a slightly different prescription as to the factors that a leader needs to consider when exercising the most successful leadership style.

  1. The Fiedler Model
  2. The Path-Goal Model and
  3. The Normative Decision Model

The Fiedler Model

Unlike the behavioral theorists who came before him, Fiedler did not believe that there was one best style of leadership. He agreed that individuals tend to possess either a task-oriented or relationship-oriented leadership style, but that to know the appropriate style for a given circumstance, you also needed to understand the situation:

Situational Factor Characteristics
Leader-Member Relations Do the followers have trust and confidence in the leader?
Task Structure Is the task structured or unstructured?
Leader’s position power Does the leader have the discretion to reward or punish?

Read the following article to learn how these factors combine to indicate which leadership style would be most effective given specific situational constraints, and criticisms of the model:

Fiedler’s Contingency Theory (2016). Leadership-central. Retrieved from http://www.leadership-central.com/fiedler%27s-contingency-theory.html#axzz3OemkTtoM

While Fiedler thought that different leadership styles worked better under different conditions, he did not think that people could change their preferred style. So the important task of management was to match the leader with the right style to the right situation. The next contingency theory of leadership we will examine does not hold that leadership style is static, and instead proffers the argument that leaders can change and adapt their style to fit the situation.

Path Goal Model

The path-goal model of leadership proposes four different leadership styles and considers two situational factors (the follower’s capabilities and motivation) to match the most effective leadership style with the characteristics of the situation as follows:

Appropriate Leadership Style Situation
Directive ·         Employee role ambiguity is high

·         Employees have low abilities

·         Employees have external locus of control

Supportive ·         Tasks are boring and repetitive

·         Tasks are stressful

Participative ·         Employee abilities are high

·         Decisions are relevant to employees

·         Employees have internal locus of control

Achievement-oriented ·         Employees have high abilities

·         Employees have high achievement motivation

In other words, a leader does not use the same approach with hourly employees with limited skills the same way she would lead employees who are highly educated and highly skilled. Read more about this approach to leadership:

Martin, R. (2012) “PathGoal Theory of Leadership.” Encyclopedia of Group Processes & Intergroup Relations. Ed. John M. Levine and Michael A. Hogg. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2009. 636-37. SAGE Reference Online . Web. 30 Jan. 2012. Retrieved April 2017 from https://studysites.uk.sagepub.com/northouse6e/study/materials/reference/reference7.2.pdf

Normative Decision Model: Vroom-Yetton-Jago decision tree

The last contingency model we will consider is the Normative Decision Model, so called because it gives leaders a tool to use to decide exactly which of five leadership styles is appropriate for a given circumstance to ensure that the highest quality alternative is selected and the followers have the greatest likelihood of acceptance of that alternative. By asking a series of questions and following the answers through a decision tree, the leader can select the style that is most likely to yield the response she desires. The five leadership styles are:

Decision style Characteristics
A1: Autocratic Leader gathers information and decides alone.
A2: Autocratic Leader gets information from followers but decides alone.
C1: Consultative Leader shares problem with individual followers, asks for input, but decides alone.
C2: Consultative Leader shares problem with group of follower, asks for input, but decides alone.
G2: Group based Leader shares problem with group, seeks consensus on solution.

Find out what the key questions are and see how the decision tree works by reading the following article. Be sure to try out the interactive tool that allows you to try out the decision tree for yourself!

Vroom-Yetton-Jago Decision-making Model of Leadership (2013). Leadership-central. Retrieved from http://www.leadership-central.com/Vroom-Yetton-Jago-decision-making-model-of-leadership.html#axzz3OjpF9lI8

Transformational leadership

Transformational leaders are people who inspire followers to exert their greatest efforts toward achieving a vision for the future of the organization. To do this, the transformational leader needs to clearly communicate his vision for the organization and this vision must be linked to strong values that followers will find motivating. The transformational leader works hard to build trust with his followers – so that his “open area” of the JoHari Window is maximized. (See Module 2 for an explanation of the JoHari Window.)

Although he does not use the term “transformational”, Leadership expert Simon Sinek is clearly describing what constitutes this type of leadership in the following TED talk:

TED (2010) Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action

Much of what is written about transformational leadership focuses on the role of top management – particularly CEO’s – as transformational. But what about the rest of us who lead people on a daily basis, but from the middle of the organization? Does the model of transformational leadership have anything to offer individuals who are not at the top of the leadership “food chain”?

The following article does just that by making clear how managers at all levels of the organization can become more effective leaders by infusing transformational principles into the meaning of work. Drawing on the Job Characteristics Model (remember this from module 1?), the authors show how “transformational leaders promote (i.e., shape) subordinates’ perceptions of work by influencing their perceptions of key job characteristics.” (p. 354)

Dean J., Cleavengera, D.J., and Munyonb, T.P. (2013). It’s how you frame it: Transformational leadership and the meaning of work. Business Horizons 56(3), 351-360.

You can find this article in the Trident University Library.

Optional Reading

Center for Creative Leadership Website. (2015) Retrieved from http://www.ccl.org/index.shtml

McNamara, C. (2017) All about Leadership. In Free Management Library. Retrieved from http://managementhelp.org/leadership/

Case Assignment

Once again, we will be considering an experience which has personal significance for you as a means of understanding the material from this module better.  For this case, think about a situation involving leadership that made a strong impression on you.  Please structure your essay in the following format, using the subtopics as headings. Your paper should be 4 pages minimum, plus a title page and a references page.

Introduction: Discuss the topic of the paper and how you will approach it.  It is best to write this section after you have written the rest of the paper.

Concrete Experience:  Objectively describe the leadership experience.  It could be a situation where you were in a leadership position, or one in which you were working under someone else as leader.  The situation could have been a good experience or a failure in leadership. The important consideration is that it is a situation which you would like to understand better.  In this section, strive to be objective and stick to the facts – who, what, where, when, and how.

Reflective Observation:  Step back and consider the situation from different points of view.  How did you feel – what were your thoughts at the time?  It is also critical to consider the experience of others involved.  How do you think they were feeling?  Did they see things the same way you did?  The key to this section of your paper is to understand the experience not only from your own perspective, but also to develop the ability to be able to look at the situation through others’ eyes.  Use these different perceptions to add depth and meaning to your objective description.

Abstract Conceptualization: There are many readings and other materials explaining various models of leadership in the background section of this module. Use at least three of them to help explain the behavior of the leader and the followers in this incident.  How do the models of leadership and power presented in the background material help you understand your behavior as well as how others reacted (commitment, compliance, or resistance?) Use proper citations and referencing when referring to any material from the background pages or any additional outside research. (Outside research not required, but you may supplement the background material if you choose. It should not replace the background readings and videos, but acts as an additional source.)

[Remember:  The abstract conceptualization section is the “heart” of your paper.  Your ability to clearly and logically apply concepts of leadership to explain your own experience is essential to demonstrating critical thinking. ]

Active Experimentation:  What have you learned about effective leadership from this exercise?  What have you learned about how the leadership style influences follower’s reactions and motivation? What actions would you take to revise or improve upon your own leadership style and practices to be more effective in the future?

Conclusion:  Sum up the main points of your analysis and the key learning you are taking from it.

Reference List:  List all references that you have cited in the paper using APA formatting.  References include materials from the required background readings as well as any outside internet or library sources you used in researching and writing your paper. If you have APA questions, refer to the optional listings on the background page.

Assignment Expectations

Your paper will be evaluated using the criteria as stated in the Case rubric. The following is a review of the rubric criteria:

  • Assignment-Driven: Does the paper fully address all aspects of the assignment?  Is the assignment addressed accurately and precisely using sound logic? Does the paper meet minimum length requirements?
  • Critical Thinking: Does the paper demonstrate graduate-level analysis, in which information derived from multiple sources, expert opinions, and assumptions has been critically evaluated and synthesized in the formulation of a logical set of conclusions? Does the paper address the topic with sufficient depth of discussion and analysis?
  • Business Writing: Is the essay logical, well organized and well written? Are the grammar, spelling, and vocabulary appropriate for graduate-level work? Are section headings included? Are paraphrasing and synthesis of concepts the primary means of responding, or is justification/support instead conveyed through excessive use of direct quotations?
  • Effective Use of Information: Does the submission demonstrate that the student has read, understood and can apply the background materials for the module? If required, has the student demonstrated effective research, as evidenced by student’s use of relevant and quality (library?) sources? Do additional sources used provide strong support for conclusions drawn, and do they help in shaping the overall paper?
  • Citing Sources: Does the student demonstrate understanding of APA Style of referencing, by inclusion of proper citations (for paraphrased text and direct quotations) as appropriate? Have all sources (e.g., references used from the Background page, the assignment readings, and outside research) been included, and are these properly cited? Have all sources cited in the paper been included on the References page?

 

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