¶ … Leadership Style Approach
GM502-xx (xx = section #)
Leadership Theories and Practice l
Drill Sergeant (Northouse, 2012)
Mark Young, a professional painter who previously worked as an independent contractor lands a job as the head of the painting department in a large health facility. He starts of as a task-oriented leader, geared towards goal attainment at the expense of the personal and work-related needs of his employees. With time, however, Mark relaxes his style of leadership, and begins to interact more with his subordinates - both at the professional level and personal level. He enjoys seeing his employees develop professionally, because such personal development drives the success of the department as a whole. In fact, he aids in such development by delegating some of his duties to subordinates. The department's performance has improved substantially since Mark took over, and a fair share of this improvement can rightly be attributed to his interactive style of leadership.
Based on the short passage above, I would describe Mark as a democratic leader. He exhibits a democratic style of leadership, where although he exercises control and has the final say, he readily invites the contribution, views and opinions of his subordinates; and through delegation, accords them ample opportunities to showcase their skill and creativity (Daft, 2014). In my view, the outings are meant to i) obtain first-hand information on what the employees want, how they want the department to be run, as well as their honest views and opinions about some key decisions affecting the department; and ii) to build and maintain a positive leader-follower relationship.
However, Mark does not start of as a democratic leader. His style of leadership evolves from an autocratic one, which is based on giving orders and never taking in the views and opinions of subordinates. He moves from being task-oriented to being people-oriented, where he uses people, as opposed to power, to drive success.
Generally, therefore, I would regard Mark a relationship-oriented leader, one who focuses on addressing the needs of his employees, both within the workplace and outside the workplace so as to build and maintain healthy interpersonal relationships. His strategy, in my view, is to create a satisfied and motivated workforce, and then use this positive attitude to drive success. He focuses on not only building positive relationships between himself and employees, but also between employees themselves, which is why he takes them for these interactive outside- the-workplace outings in groups. However, he also does not compromise performance for relationship maintenance. This is evident from the fact that the department's performance has been outstanding - 92% according to customer ratings. Towards this end, I would give him a score of (9, 9) -- a team manager who emphasizes the need to have strong interpersonal relationships, and at the same time, stresses the need for exceptional performance.
CASE 4.2: Eating Lunch Standing Up (Northouse, 2012)
Susan Parks is the manager of an equipment store dealing in running shoes and other sporting accessories. Her employees describe her as a no-nonsense manager focused on maintaining the organization's pattern of growth and positive reputation. Most of her employees think that she never has time to interact with them, leave alone listen to their concerns, views and opinions. Rumor has it that she rarely has time for herself, and often takes her lunch standing up. To most people, she is so driven by performance and a thirst to get the job done that she has no time to find out what her subordinates want, what they expect from their leader, or what their views are on key issues affecting the store. Susan's life is seen to revolve around getting the job done, addressing the needs of customers, and caring for her family -- her employees are not part of her to-do list, and most of them think that she is difficult to deal and relate with. All the same, some of her employees find her style of leadership admirable because it creates a feeling that she knows what she wants; and that thus, the store runs in a rather efficient and organized manner whenever she is in control.
The passage above portrays Susan as an autocratic, task-oriented leader who is focused on getting the job done through power and dictatorial tactics (Daft, 2014). She does not see the need to involve her subordinates in the decision-making process, and there is no evidence to suggest that she emphasizes the need for them to develop professionally. To her, employees...
She is the boss, and subordinates simply have to respect that by doing what she says and what she expects of them (Daft, 2014).
Well, this style of leadership has attracted profound reactions from her employees. This is because given the high level of competition in the marketplace, companies are increasingly using employee incentives and benefits, including a role in decision-making in a bid to appease and retain their employees. As long as other companies within the industry are being granted this kind of appreciation, Susan's employees are also deemed to expect the same of their leader.
In this regard, Susan needs to change her leadership styles if she is to retain her employees and evade the unnecessary costs of employee turnover, which would only put a negative strain on the very profits she has worked so hard to maintain. She ought to change her leadership style in line with the changing labor force trends, particularly because most of her employees are college students, who happen to be victims of peer pressure more than older adults are, who also expect more in terms of understanding from their employer, and who believe they have the qualification and theoretical knowhow to handle the job and do not need to be told what to do. Changing to a more embracing and more interactive leadership style would make her a more effective leader, and employees would feel satisfied with their jobs because they feel valued and appreciated (Daft, 2014).
Assess Your Leadership Style
My leadership questionnaire yielded a task score of 43 and a relationship score of 38. I consider these results quite accurate - particularly given that most of my peers regard me as a 'workaholic with no social life'. All the same, this score implies that in a leadership position, I would focus more on getting the job done by having everyone play their respective part effectively and do exactly what is expected of them; and less on building positive interpersonal relationships and having positive attitudes and job satisfaction drive results. On Blake and Mouton's leadership grid, I would give myself a score of (5,5) -- a middle-of-the-road manager who places moderate emphasis on both results and people. However, I understand that moderate is mediocre given the high level of competition in the marketplace today, and I will, therefore, have to boost both my task, and relationship skills if I am to be an effective leader.
Alternate Courses of Action CASE 4.1
Democratic leadership, such as that exhibited by Mark has several advantages, which include building a strong work ethic, instilling a spirit of commonality and solidarity among employees and their leaders, bringing about good business fit, and encouraging innovation. However, it is not without its share of disadvantages, including time wastage in decision-making, and the risk of subordinates getting so close to the leader that they lose respect for him/her, or begin to compromise performance in the belief that the leader would overlook the same for the sake of maintaining the relationship. To prevent this, Mark needs to be able to clearly distinguish between those decisions that are urgent and perhaps cannot wait for consultations to be done, and the not-so-urgent ones that could be delayed until such consultations are done. Further, he needs to ensure that he establishes boundaries that employees are required to observe in the regular conduction of their duties. This way, organizational operations would run smoothly, and as long as employees feel that the leader has an incentive to include them in the decision-making process, they are likely to have no problem being excluded in case a decision is urgent. Moreover, as long as boundaries exist, and everyone is doing their job as expected, performance at the individual and the aggregate level is deemed to be maintained.
Alternate Courses of Action CASE 4.2
Susan needs to change from the current autocratic style of leadership to a more democratic, people-oriented style, failure to which she risks incurring the unnecessary costs associated with employee turnover and a damaged reputation. She needs to emphasize the importance of employee development by providing training facilities for professional development. Further, she needs to start interacting with her employees more, say through regular in-house forums, conferences or meetings at the store where employees can present their views or concerns and receive responses regarding the same. Joining subordinates for tea during breaks would go…
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