"Leadership is the lifting of people's vision to a higher sight, the raising of their performance to a higher standard, and the building of their personality beyond its normal limitations" (Drucker, 1985). Ability to inspire others in a shared vision is one of the quality features of a leader. Leaders have cleared visions and communicate these visions to their subordinates to enhance corporate values.
The objective of this essay is to review the leadership behaviors and approaches common to the organisation.
The paper compares alternative leadership theories, and assesses the validity and utility of these theories with reference to the behaviors of leaders at Apple Computers.
Finally, the study develops a hypothesis and tests this hypothesis by critically analyzing the critical incident to judge leadership performance.
Leadership behaviours and approaches
Leadership behavior and approach are the combine styles that the leaders use to influence the subordinates to reach organizational objectives. The leadership approach focuses exclusively on the way the leaders act or behave. In a contemporary business environment, leadership style and approach are the essential tools that shape organizational goals. In every organization, different leadership approaches are needed based on different situations and leaders in every organization exhibits different approach to shape an organization.
Wang, Tsui, & Xin (2011) identify two types of leadership approaches as:
Transformational leadership approach
Transactional leadership approach
Transformational leadership style and approach is the articulate vision, sense of mission and determination that the leaders use to communicate to the subordinates. A transformational leader fosters an environment to encourage risk taking, empowerment, and recognition to allow other leaders to emerge. (Clark, 2009). Transformational leaders facilitate multiple level of transformation by maximizing human and organizational capabilities. Transformational leaders use their visionary skills to enhance corporate governance. They also use their knowledge to structure and process the business affairs of their companies to enhance long-term shareholders values. (Teen, 2006). To respond to a dynamic environment, transformational leaders use charismatic style to make change happen in others, group, and organizations and obtain high performances expectation from the followers.
In contrast to the transformational leadership approach, transactional leadership motivates the followers through rewards or punishment. Transactional leaders use task-oriented approach to achieve goals. To pursue an organizational goal, transactional leaders monitor and influence organizational operations. Typically, the transactional leadership emphasizes on getting things done using the umbrella of status quo.
On the other hand, Northouse (2007) argues that to achieve corporate governance, leaders should demonstrate two types of leadership approaches:
Style leadership approach
Situational leadership approach
Style leadership approach explains how the leaders combine tasks and relationship behaviors to influence subordinates with the aim to reach organizational goals. Task and relationship behaviors are the core of the leadership process. Leaders using style approach believe that some situations are more task oriented while some situations are relationship-based orientated. Style leadership approach uses task behavior to facilitate goals and relationship behaviour to assist subordinates to be comfortable in their work environment. However, it is very difficult to find a leader that could be effective in both situations at the same time.
Situation leadership approach exhibits the prescribe leadership style based on the situation. The leaders recognize employees need and adapt their own styles to meet the needs of the subordinates. Situation leaders accurately diagnose the situation and direct the group members to accomplish their goals. More than 400 of the 500 Fortune companies use situational leadership approach to achieve their objectives. Despite the importance of situational approach, few studies have completed research on this approach.
Different theories explain the validity and utility of leadership within an organizational context. The leadership theories are discussed in the next section.
Leadership Theories and their Validity and Utility within an Organizational Context
Different theories explain the leadership behavior within an organizational context. Positive reinforcement theory discusses how the leaders use the positive reinforcement to shape the behaviour of their followers. The use of positive reinforcement to increase productivity has been successfully applied in the organizations such as Michigan Bell, Goodrich, and Energy Air Freight. Supporters of positive reinforcement theory argue that organizations have been able to use reinforcement theory to lower costs and increase productivities. (Lussier & Achua 2010).
In contrast to reinforcement theory, management theory focuses on the method leaders uses the management technique to shape an organization. Management theory explains that employees are rewarded or punished in a business organization based on the employee performances. For example, workers are rewarded if performed excellently or punished if they fail. Management theory is similar to the transactional theory that explains how the transactional leaders shape followers commitment by offering reward or punishment.
In a contemporary business environment, many organizations apply management theory to achieve organizational objectives. Leaders use task-oriented behavioural technique to promote greater task productivities. (Mumford, Campion, & Morgeson 2007).
Similar to reinforcement and management theories, DeRue et al. (nd) use the behavioural theory to discuss the trait and behavior of the leaders. The authors argue that the leaders demonstrate skills and personality traits to achieve corporate objectives. For example, the transactional leadership demonstrates task-oriented behaviors while transformational leadership focus on relational-oriented leadership behaviors. Task-oriented behavior involves using contingent reward or punishment to shape the behaviours of employees. To shape the behavior of employee, behavioural theory explains that the leader defines the task role and roles relationships among group members to determine the standards of tasks performances. Bahavioral theory explains that transactional leaders demonstrate the task oriented traits by explaining the standards required from the employees. Contrarily, leaders demonstrate relational-oriented behaviors by showing concern and respect for individual group members. By treating group members as equal, the leaders are able to attain the organizational goals. Transformational, democratic, and participative leaders are the examples of leaders who build respect and focus on the welfare of the followers. These leaders use relational-oriented behaviors to facilitate changes within the organizational settings. (Srivastava, Bartol, & Locke, 2006).
Similar to relational-oriented behavior, change-oriented behaviour also facilitate changes with an organization by encouraging innovation and risk taking. For example, transformational leaders stimulate intellectual changes and communicate a vision for change. (Yukl, Gordon, & Taber 2002). Essentially, the leadership style approach is very important for the organizational success. Without leadership style and approach to guide the subordinates, an organization may not achieve the desired corporate goals. This issue is very applicable to Apple computers.
Apple Computers was launched in 1976, and the company recorded tremendous growth until 1980s. Apple recorded success in 1980s because Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs articulated leadership styles that enhanced employee positive attitude. Steve applied behavioural theory to revitalize the company. The relational-oriented leadership style that Steve applied made Apple to record tremendous growth. For example, Apple launched Apple II in the 1980s. However, after 1980s, Apple experienced declines in performances because Steve Wozniak suffered injury, which made the company to employ new CEO. The new CEO did not possess the leadership styles and approach to guide his subordinates.
"Internal tension followed which resulted in Steve Jobs also leaving his company in the late 1980's. The new CEO was ousted in 1993 but further leadership changes and internal uncertainty followed - resulting in a lack of company focus up until 1997." (Kennedy, 2004, P 1).
Wang, et al. (2011) argues that CEO charisma is very critical for organizational performances. A leader should be able to use his charisma to manage an organization during the crisis. The case of Apple Computers was different, the new CEO lacked leadership quality to direct his subordinates and manage the company during the crisis. Thus, Apple suffered decline in growth until 1997.
Hypothesis 1: Leadership behavior relates positively to organizational performance and employees' positive attitudes.
To test out the hypothesis, the paper analyses a critical incident.
Application of analysis to a critical incident
Analysis of leadership theories has shown that leaders need to demonstrate relational or task oriented behaviors to achieve organizational performances. To positively increase productivities and job satisfactions within the organizational contexts, leaders need to implement task-oriented or relational-oriented approach to enhance organizational changes. A critical incident that reveals how a leader employs leadership styles to make changes within an organization is the case of Apple Computers. Following the decline in growth of Apple after the nomination of a new CEO, Steve Jobs returned to Apple to revitalize the company. Steve applied the behavioral changes leadership style to initiate positive attitudes from employees. Moreover, Steve applied relational leadership style to divert employees back to the positive track. With the positive attitude of employees to achieve organizational performances, Steve re-focused company strategy by launching new brands called G4 chip and iMac -- which fitted with Apple's original brand. Apple recorded first profits after launching the new brands, and since then Apple's profits continue to rise. Couple of years after Steve resumes his post; Steve has been able to maximize shareholders values by demonstrating steep increase in the company share prices. (See Fig 1).