Recommendation to the Director of Highlands on potentially feasible leadership styles: Visionary Leadership Theory and Path-Goal Theory of Leadership.
The Visionary Leadership Theory is based partly on Max Weber's ideas of charisma and transformational leadership. This theory -- when implemented successfully -- creates trust in the leader, a "high commitment to the leader," high levels of "performance among followers," and a high "overall organizational performance" (Kirkpatrick, 2011). The visionary leader must have acute insight into the needs and values of his/her staff. The vision of the leader positively influences and motivates the followers. The visionary leader must have a "long-range vision of what his or her organization should become in ten, twenty, or more years in the future" (Kirkpatrick, p. 1616).
The leader must not only have charisma but also be able to "engage in several rhetorical techniques" that will motivate followers. Those techniques include "…using metaphors, analogies, stories, and repetition," Kirkpatrick continues. Strong communication skills are certainly an important part of the visionary leadership theory.
Robert J. House explains that the Path-Goal Theory (PGT) concerns relationships between "…formally appointed superiors and subordinates in their day-to-day functioning" (House, 1996). The theory is "dyadic" in the sense that it does not relate to how leadership affects groups or work units; it is focused on the relationship between a supervisor and his subordinates (House, p. 3). Basically the notion of PGT is that supervisors will be effective "…to the extent that they complement the environment in which their subordinates work by providing the necessary cognitive clarifications" [specifics] that show subordinates it is possible to achieve certain work goals (House, p. 4). Moreover, the supervisor in a PGT environment will convince subordinates that they will get "intrinsic satisfaction and receive valent rewards as a result of work goal attainment" (House, p. 4).
Given that this merger scenario has affected the confidence of the whole newly formed company (including people working together for the first time, people who just met when the companies merged) it would appear that the Visionary Leadership Theory would be most appropriate. Why? Every one of the employees joined in this merger has likely witnessed a friend or close colleague let go due to the downsizing. Hence, there may be a fear in many of the remaining employees that they could be let go as well. Given this time of employee uncertainty, there is an urgent need to deal with the low morale of the entire workforce, and one visionary leader can likely do this through his or her role modeling, empowerment, and image building, according to Kirkpatrick. That suggests that the leader should be visible, and use charismatic communication skills toward the entire workforce -- not just the subordinates of a given supervisor. A dyadic kind of leadership is not appropriate but a Visionary Leader would be a better choice going forward.
Moreover, a Visionary Leader that is put in place during this crisis of morale can engage in "unconventional behavior," take risks, be intellectually stimulating by challenging the workforce, and "create conditions that allow followers to pursue the vision," according to Kirkpatrick (p. 1617).
Will the employees in this uniting of two fractured groups be helped if management uses Herzberg's Motivation Theory? A pivotal question to be asked of employees (using the Herzberg "Two-Factor Theory," which is interchangeable with the Motivation-Hygiene Theory) is this: "What do people want from their jobs?" (Sapru, 2008, p. 222). In conducting a survey of 200 engineers and accountants in Pittsburgh, Herzberg and his colleagues asked those 200 professionals to "think about their times when they felt exceptionally good or exceptionally bad about their jobs" (Sapru, 223). In this way, Herzberg could determine which events the engineers and accountants related that determined satisfaction on the job and which showed job dissatisfaction.
Asking the employees of Highlands the same questions could lead to discovering what motivates them. Will they be frank about their experiences and open up if the Herzberg theory is applied? The five factors that determine whether they are satisfied with their jobs are: achievement, recognition, the attraction of the work itself, responsibility, and advancement (Sapru, 223).
Job Satisfaction / Motivators: The employees of Highlands need to feel as though they are doing something that is psychologically stimulating -- that is, they want to achieve something, not just go to work, punch the time clock and put in their time. There should be a sense of satisfaction in transcending their "environmental limitations," Sapru explains. They need to be recognized by their superiors, and if so they will be motivated to achieve and grow.
Job Dissatisfaction / Maintenance: If on the other hand they are not satisfied, they will indicate that through the five factors: company policy and administration, supervision, salary, interpersonal relations, and working conditions. Approaching the indicators of job satisfaction from a proactive position can produce a more motivated workplace. It will take strong leadership to elicit the honesty from employees at Highlands.
Memo to Senior Managers: Due to the fact that morale has reached an all-time low in this newly formed merger, it is suggested that Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y should be considered in terms of giving a boost to motivation and improving spirits in this company.
At the bottom of the ladder are physiological needs (food, water, shelter, warmth and rest / sleep). These are obviously basic to survival, not just workplace needs. Next are security and safety needs (there should be nothing dangerous or psychologically frightening), followed by affiliation or acceptance (people need to belong and be accepted) (Koontz, et al., 2006). Moving up the hierarchy, and important to Highlands, are esteem needs (people need respect which leads to self-confidence); at the top of the hierarchy is the need for self-actualization -- the desire to "become what one is capable of becoming," the maximization of one's talent and potential. We need to embrace Maslow's well-respected needs strategy.
Meanwhile, McGregor's Theory X presents the kind of management negativity that we avoid. The average worker is not indolent, does not lack ambition, is not always resistant to change and is not easily duped (Miller, 2009). However, McGregor's Theory Y could be embraced at Highlands: a) work is as natural as play; b) people can be self-directed; c) self-actualization can be achieved; d) people accept responsibility when given the chance; e) people are creative when the opportunity is afforded; and e) human intellectual potential rarely is fully utilized (hence it's our job to tap that potential) (Miller, p. 41).
Attention IT managers at Highlands. We at this newly merged company are always looking for strategies to motivate our employees, and you are in the same boat. One possible approach for IT would be the Vroom's Motivation Theory, which is basically going by the assumption that what one person values is likely to be different from the next person. So the job of an IT manager is to "…design an environment for performance," which takes into account "…the differences in various situations" with a variety of personalities (Koontz, 293). Let's break Vroom's theory down into its most practical components: a) the outcome people achieve is both first-level (performance and quantity of effort) and second-level (the end result expected); b) valence (what outcome an individual prefers); c) instrumentality (the relationship between the two outcome levels); and d) expectancy (a person's belief that he can attain a "particular level of performance" (Mukherjee).
Hence, it is the IT manager's job to determine the various personalities and work ethics reflected in staff. What can be said about the willingness of people in IT to learn new things? A practical idea would be to explore Vroom's theory by taking your entire staff off-site and engaging in a dialogue of learning.
Team-Building is considered a fundamental process for most organizations. The main characteristic of a team is that the very highest goal and priority is not individual goals within the team but "…the accomplishment of team goals" (Quick, 1992). It can be a cliche, but team-building is as vital to production and success in a company as oxygen is to fire. Though the team may have among its members "…strong personalities" that possess "highly developed specialized skills," and those members may have personal objectives, if they are truly team members the most "important business at hand is the success…" that the group has set as a priority (Quick, p. 3).
The stages that contribute to the development of a team include: a) context (there is an obvious need for teamwork); b) composition (the skills, experience and motivation of team members); c) competencies (their ability to solve problems and communicate); d) and the change management skills (the ability to adjust and make changes) (Dyer, 2013).
What will provide fuel for the fire that is needed in the process of developing teamwork? The group in its entirety must be carefully reviewed, since there are new faces that have arrived at Highlands vis-a-vis…