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The passive style is described as management by exception where employees do not receive notice for their positive contributions to the organization, but instead are paid attention by their manager only when an error or problem arises. Punishment or disciplinary action is often the medium used in this approach. Active transactional leadership uses contingent rewards. With this approach, employees are praised for their performance and may be eligible for pay increases or other incentives (Bolman & Deal, 1991, p. 419). The type of leadership exhibited clearly determines the type of motivation used and often its success or failure.
The situational leadership theory of Hersey and Blanchard proposes that the optimal amount of task and relations behavior depends upon subordinate maturity. As the authors note, what the manager needs is a simple and logical framework for making decisions that will be successful (Hersey & Blanchard, 1990, p. 412). This theory prescribes different patterns of two behaviors depending on the subordinate's confidence and skill in relation to the task. This theory is popular in the workplace, but has yet to gain popularity among researchers and scholars. In addition, few studies have tested the theory, and these studies have found only partial and weak support for it. Among the theory's weaknesses are ambiguous constructs, oversimplification and a lack of intervening explanatory processes (Bolman & Deal, 1991, p. 417). Despite these caveats, the theory continues to grow in popularity in the workplace, and numerous seminars are dedicated to offering managers tips on how to apply situational leadership principles in their environments.
Developing people also means developing policies that hire and retain the beet people and that motivate those people to do their best work. This is a key leadership role and helps reduce the damage done by such things as high employee turnover. The cost of employee turnover includes the actual cost of replacing the employee but also includes the loss of institutional memory and loss of potential customers as customers deal with inexperienced employees. Institutional memory, which is directly related to corporate culture, involves how employees interact with each other as well as with customers. When employees leave an organization, they take knowledge about the informal structure of a company with them, and that valuable information is lost to new employees. At the same time, customers, particularly those who deal with customer service employees, can be frustrated when they deal with inexperienced employees who have difficulty in answering questions, and they may take their business elsewhere. Because of this, minimizing employee turnover can be a strategic business decision (Fitz-Enz, 1997, p. 50).
Clearly, the consensus today agrees with DuBrin and also Bossidy and Charan as to the strategic importance of the human resource function and on the need to find and put in place the right people for the job. In part, the new emphasis placed on personnel is a recognition that the traditional model of strategy is inadequate, a top-down model in which the planning process is overly simplistic, ignoring the political processes, and with organizations not moving sequentially from one predictable stage to another, so that many pursue multiple and not single strategies:
This "classical" top-down approach to strategy development may fail to take into consideration the realities of organizational decision-making processes. There are other ways of considering the process of strategy creation. For instance, the "evolutionary" approach is based on the notion that it is the market that selects winners, and the environmental fit is the main goal; strategy is therefore emergent. According to the "processual" perspective, strategy is a word used to describe the way in which managers seek to simplify and order a complex world; it is discovered in action, not specifically formulated through rationalistic processes. The "systemic" perspective emphasizes the role of social systems in shaping strategic goals, and challenges the notion that any single model of strategy can be universally applicable (Gratton, 1999, p. 8).
Bossidy and Charan (2002) take an approach similar to DuBrin in that they emphasize the importance of strategic execution for the leader and also offer ways of developing the skills needed to achieve this. As the authors write, "The heart of execution lies in the three core processes: the people process, the strategy process, and the operations process" (Bossidy & Charan, 2002, p. 22). To achieve this, the authors cite the need for ways of assessing the dynamics of the current situation and of the skills of the people involved in order to know how to reach the level desired for a strategic action. Leadership in their view is a people process, a way of finding the right people, of motivating these people, and of getting the best form the people involved. Developing the people aspect of the organization requires certain measurements in order to know what is needed: "One of the biggest shortcomings of the traditional people process is that it's backward-looking, focused on evaluating the jobs people are doing today. Far more important is whether the individuals can handle the jobs of tomorrow" (Bossidy & Charan, 2002, p. 142). The authors also emphasize the need for a match between the people in the organization and the strategy selected: "To have realism in your strategy, you have to link it to your people process: Do you have the right people in place to execute the strategy?" (Bossidy & Charan, 2002, p. 179).
The two books are complementary in that regard, showing how to develop leadership abilities and how to apply them to the issues that face business today. DuBrin has been influential in the formation of various assessment tools to aid in the development of leaders (the Leadership Motivation Assessment, 2007). One CEO considers the advice offered by Bossidy and Charan and writes that "the overarching principles are certainly something that each of us can examine and integrate into our own work philosophies" (Book Review, 2005). The two books together provide a comprehensive view of the nature and needs of leadership in organizations today and advice on how to develop leadership to the full.
Bolman, L. & Deal, T. (1991). Reframing organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Bossidy, Larry; Charan, Ram; Execution, the Discipline of Getting Things
Done; Crown Business, New York, NY. 2002.
DuBrin, a.J., R.D. Ireland, & J.C. Williams. Management & Organization. Cincinnati: South-Western, 1989.
DuBrin, a.J. (2005). Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills, 5th Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Fitz-Enz, J. (1997, August). "It's Costly to Lose Good Employees." Workforce,…[continue]
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