Leadership is defined as a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive (Robins, Pinsky, & Krichko, 2004). Bernard Bass' theory of leadership (Bass, 1990) states that there are three ways to explain the development of how one becomes a leader. The Trait Theory explains that some personality traits may lead people naturally into leadership roles. The Great Events Theory states that a crisis or important event may cause a person to rise to the occasion, which brings out extraordinary leadership qualities in an ordinary person. Finally, the Transformational Leadership Theory states that people can choose to become leaders or people can learn leadership skills. The latter theory is the most widely accepted theory today (Fabian, 2004).
When one considers a person as a leader, he/she does not think about personal attributes. Observation is typically used to decide if the person is honorable and trusted, or if the person is a selfish person who misuses authority for personal gain. These leaders are not effective because employees typically only obey them, not follow them. Self-serving leaders often succeed because they present a good image to their supervisors at the expense of others.
The foundation of strong leadership is honorable character and selfless service to the organization. Employees typically view leadership as everything one does that effects the objectives of the organization and their well being. Employee respect is achieved by conveying a strong vision of the future.
Trust and confidence in top leadership was the single most reliable predictor of employee satisfaction in an organization (Wong & Modrow, 2004). Effective communication by leadership in three main areas is critical to winning organizational trust and confidence. These areas are: a) helping employees understand the company's overall business strategy, b) helping employees understand how they contribute to achieving key business objectives, and c) sharing information with employees on how the company is doing and how an employee's own division is doing relative to strategic business objectives (Kowalski & Yoder-Wise, 2004).
The four major factors of leadership are the follower, leader, communication, and situation (Kitson, 2004). Followers often require different styles of leadership. New hires, for example, require more supervision than an experienced employee. The fundamental starting point is having a good understanding of human nature: needs, emotions, and motivation. The leader must know the followers (employees) to be effective. The leader must have a honest understanding of who he or she is, knowledge, and personal strengths and weaknesses. To be successful, a leader must convince the followers, not the superiors. Communication, especially nonverbal, is critical in the success of a leader. A leader sets the example that communicates to the employees that you would not ask them to perform anything that you would not be willing to do. The final factor, situation, is complex because all situations are different. How one acts in one leadership situation will not always work in another.
Successful organizations have good leaders who set high standards and goals across the entire spectrum such as strategies, market leadership, plans, presentations, productivity, quality, and reliability. Values reflect the concern the organization has for its employees, customers, investors, vendors, and surrounding community. These values define the manner in how business will be conducted and what type of business the organization will engage in.
Roles are the positions that are defined by a set of expectations about behavior of any job incumbent. Each role has a set of tasks and responsibilities that may or may not be spelled out. Roles have a powerful effect on behavior because money is paid for the performance of the role, there is prestige attached to a role, and there is a sense of accomplishment or challenge. Organizational climate is directly related to the leadership and management style of the leader, based on the values, attributes, skills, and actions, as well as the priorities of the leader. The ethical climate then is the feel of the organization about the activities that have ethical content or those aspects of the work environment that constitute ethical behavior. The ethical climate is the feel about whether we do things right; or the feel of whether we behave the way we ought to behave. The behavior of the leader is the most important factor that impacts the climate. However, culture is a long-term, complex phenomenon. Culture represents the shared expectations and self-image of the organization. The collective vision and common folklore that define the institution are a reflection of culture. Individual leaders, cannot easily create or change culture because culture is a part of the organization. Culture influences the characteristics of the climate by its effect on the actions and thought processes of the leader. However, everything a leader does will affect the climate of the organization.
Leadership models help us to understand what makes leaders act the way they do in certain situations. The ideal is not to lock yourself in to a type of behavior discussed in the model, but to realize that every situation calls for a different approach or behavior to be taken. One model, the Four Framework Approach was introduced by Bolman and Deal (Bolman & Deal, 1992) who suggested that leaders display leadership behaviors in one of four types of frameworks: a) structural, b) human resource, c) political, or d) symbolic, as described below:
Structural framework is a leadership style of analysis and design. Structural leaders focus on structure, strategy, environment, implementation, experimentation, and adaptation.
Human resource framework is a leadership style of support, advocacy, and empowerment. Human resource leaders believe in people and communicate that belief. They are visible and accessible, increase participation, support, share information, and move decision making down into the organization.
Political framework is a leadership style where one clarifies the distribution of power and interests, build linkages to other stakeholders, and use persuasion first instead of negotiation.
Symbolic framework is a leadership style where one views organizations as a theater to play certain roles and give impressions. These leaders use symbols to capture attention, try to frame experience by providing plausible interpretations of experiences, and discover and communicate a vision.
This model suggests that leaders can be put into one of these four categories and there are times when one approach is appropriate and times when it would not be. However, one should be conscious of all four approaches and not just rely on one (Parsons & Reiss, 2004).
The Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid (Beccaria & Favero, 2000) uses a two axis graph to categorize leadership qualities. Concern for people is plotted on the vertical axis and Concern for task is along the horizontal axis. Each variable has a range of 1 to 9. Most people fall somewhere near the middle of the two axes. However, four distinct types of leaders may be observed in people who score on the far end of the scales. These leadership types are:
Authoritarian (9 on task, 1 on people)
Team Leader (9 on task, 9 on people)
Country Club (1 on task, 9 on people)
Impoverished (1 on task, 1 on people).
The authoritarian leader is very task-oriented and is hard on the employees. Little or no allowance for cooperation or collaboration exists. Heavily task-oriented people display the following characteristics: dependence on schedules, expectation of employees to follow orders without question or debate, and a tendency to blame someone for a problem instead of focus on exactly what is wrong and how to prevent it.
A team leader leads by positive example by endeavoring to foster a team environment where all team members can reach their highest potential, personally and professionally. He or she encourages the team to reach goals as effectively as possible, while also working to strengthen the bonds among the various members. Team leaders typically form and lead the most productive teams.
The country club leader predominantly uses rewards to maintain discipline and to encourage the team to accomplish its goals. However, this leader is almost incapable of employing the more punitive coercive and legitimate powers. This inability results from the leaders' fear that using such powers could jeopardize her relationships with the team members.
The impoverished leader uses a "delegate and disappear" management style. Since he or she is not committed to either task accomplishment or maintenance, this leader essentially allows the team to do what ever it wishes and prefers to detach himself from the team process by allowing the team to suffer from a series of power struggles.
The most desirable place for a leader to be along the two axes at most times would be a 9 on task and a 9 on people, the profile of a team leader. However, the other three leadership styles should not be dismissed entirely. Certain situations might call for one of the other three to be used at times (Kerfoot, 2004). By carefully studying the situation and the forces affecting it, the leader will know at what points along the axis you need…