Nature of Leadership Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Nature of Leadership

What are some guidelines for exercising authority? Reward Power? Coercive Power?

As a result of the various financial scandals over the last decade, like Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom, leadership authority is under scrutiny. Gaining trust and recruiting employees who share in the mission and vision of the company is at the forefront of exercising authority.

According to Peter Drucker, in an interview with Forbes Magazine, successful leaders must make sure that they can succeed. They must place trust in employees and challenge them to apply their strengths. Drucker states "Successful leaders don't start out asking, "What do I want to do?" They ask, "What needs to be done?" Then they ask, "Of those things that would make a difference, which are right for me?" They don't tackle things they aren't good at" (Karlgaard, 2004, p 1) .

Strong leadership involves the ability to be flexible. With an increase in global relationships, advancement of technology, diverse workforces, and the introduction of social networking, an effective leader must acquire the skill to adapt to different personalities and behaviors.

Studies have found that leaders who encourage employee community involvement can motivate and keep employees. In a department of immaterial assets, value similarities appear large. A senior executive of financial services firm states, "It's important to keep the people within my ranks involved and happy in the community to avoid being attracted to move elsewhere. If they have ties with a charity, it's going to be a lot harder for them to uproot and move elsewhere." Community engagement creates exit barriers (Karlgaard, 2004).

When employees feel as valued members of a company, they are motivated Research shows that leaders who encourage community involvement yield a strong return to the company. In a survey by the Conference Board, 77% of companies believe that community involvement programs help the company reach their strategic goals. Many of the United States corporations have been shifting from a traditional charity perspective to "strategic philanthropy," which attempts to integrate corporate donations and community service activities with business operations and interests.

Fostering company values is a powerful tool in shaping employee performance. In that people are not perfect, it is important for leaders to re-evaluate their strategies and listen to subordinates.

In exercising authority in the workplace, leaders must gain the respect and trust of subordinates, be strong communicators and listeners. Leaders must set expectations for subordinates, take control and direct to principles toward showing compassion.

The guide to being an effective and strong leader is to keep an open mind, maintain the operation by developing strategies and setting goals. Subordinates will join in the mission when the avenue of communication is open; employees valued, and can thrive in an enthusiastic and motivating culture.

Which skills are most important at lower, middle, and higher levels of management?

Managers are responsible for managing people. Manager's supervise, coordinate tasks, plan, organize, make decisions, monitor performances, behaviors, and keep current on events and developments of technology. Managerial duties vary by the level of responsibility. Managers make decisions dependent on the demands of the organization. Their choices are crucial in shaping an organization.

A typical manager works long hours. Managers are always readily available to answer questions, direct, authorize, and respond to requests from supervisors, peers, and outside organizations and vendors. Managers have a reactive behavior and often confronted with issues initiated by others.

In an observation study conducted by Henry Mintzberg, an academic and author, in 1973, he defined the different managerial roles of manager; interpersonal, information processing, and decision-making. In that the different roles can apply to all managers, the importance of the role is dependent on the type of manager.

In interpersonal roles, manager operates as a leader when making organizational decisions. They provide guidance, motivate employees, and create a positive culture. The manager acts as a Liaison, by establishing and maintains relationships with organization important to the company. As a figurehead, the manager's presence at meeting or events portrays the formal authority of the position.

Information processing involves researching, accessing, and transmitting data, although decision-making enables a manager to allocate funds, showcase entrepreneur skills, and handle problems.

Organizations have three levels of management, top, middle, and lower. In most organizations, the number of managers at each level is such that the hierarchy is like a pyramid with more first-level managers, fewer middle managers, and less managers at the top.

High-Level managers are senior executives who often hold the title of Chief Executive Officer or Chief Operating Officer. These executives are responsible for making decisions on behalf of an entire organization. Top level managers are highly skilled and versed in management. Some hold master's of business administration (MBA) degrees, while others have worked their way up the ranks.

Middle managers hold managerial positions at a level lower than high level executives. Middle managers delegate responsibilities from high-level executives and often assist in setting company goals by providing feedback from their respective department(s).

Lower-level managers are supervisors and unit leads who interact with employees daily. At this level the supervisor can monitor employee performance, behaviors, and department morale.

The ability to communicate is one of the most important skills to being an effective manager. All managers have constant interaction with their employees, through meetings, memos, conference calls and e-mails.

The role and expectations of a manager is relevant to managers at all levels. The difference lies in the distinct tasks of each manager. Every manager decides how he or she will perform in a manager role. The core requirement for all managers is based on the demands, constraints, and choices that will influence their decisions.

Explain the path-goal theory of leadership (Chapter 8-218-23)

The path-goal theory of leadership examines the relationship among leaders and peers. The theory focuses on effective leadership and its ability to influence and shape the behavior of employees. Based on the types of supervision, and the relationship among leaders and subordinates in carrying out daily tasks, and the effect leaders can have over the performance of subordinates.

Various writers have researched and analyzed different theories that contribute to the role of leadership in motivating employees. The first theory, initiated in 1971 by Robert House, a graduate of Ohio State University, proclaimed that "the motivational function of the leader consists of increasing personal payoffs to subordinates for work-goal attainment and making the path to these payoffs easier to travel by clarifying it, reducing roadblocks and pitfalls, and increasing the opportunities for personal satisfaction en route."

The path-goal theory defines leadership behavior in four categories: supportive, directive, participative, and achievement-oriented leadership. Supportive leadership considers the needs and wants of subordinates, and makes effort to create a pleasant culture in the organization.

Directive leadership refers to a structured environment, whereas, subordinates supervise and monitor with respect to rules, schedules, and procedures. Studies show that leaders who initiate structure rate high by their superiors and maintain productive employees.

Participative leadership maintains an open door policy, where employees are welcome to voice their opinions and made to feel as a valued part of the organization.

Achievement-oriented leadership fosters success, motivation, and challenges.

Supportive leaders tend to have satisfied employees, however; there are mixed views about the satisfaction of employees and the creation of structured environments. Studies show that unskilled and semi-skilled employees resent a structured environment.

When subordinates are dealing with complicated tasks and no formalized training, directive leadership can be rewarding to the employee, the employee is guided, challenged, and rewarded for their efforts.

The path-goal theory recognizes the behaviors of leaders and subordinates with respect to the culture, job, and characteristics of both. The four implied theories suggest that subordinates make a choice about the level of effort they will put into a project based on their individual expectations or rewards.

In that not much research has been done on participative and achievement-oriented leadership, it is noted that the leadership styles increase subordinate effort with complex tasks and clarifies the role of the subordinate while completing a tasks.

The path-goal theory of leadership makes assumptions about the motivation of an employee. The theory assumes that the experience of role ambiguity is stressful and by lessening doubt will result in subordinate fulfillment and performance. "Role ambiguity is experiencing lack of clarity about what is expected of one, how one will be evaluated, and criteria for evaluation" (House, Robert J. 1996). Researchers note that some people prefer non-defined tasks to allow them to challenge their role.

According to House, "Path-goal theory reflects the fact that the leadership scholars of the time were largely trapped in a paradigm of task and person oriented behavior with respect to leadership and a paradigm of cognitive orientation with respect to motivation." Though there were limitations with the path-goal theory, it is concluded that the study led to the charismatic theory, which some debate as a better theory.

What behaviors are usually associated with charismatic leadership? What skills and traits are important for charismatic leaders? (Chapter 9)

In comparison to other leadership theories that…

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