Nature of Leadership What Are Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

In contrast to the field study approach used by the University of Michigan researchers, the Ohio State studies used a series of questionnaires administered to both military and civilian personnel. Based on their findings, the researchers at Ohio State found that "subordinates perceived their supervisor's behavior primarily in terms of two broadly defined categories labeled 'consideration' and 'initiating' structure. These two types of behavior were relatively independent which means that a leader's use of one behavior was not necessarily the same as his or her use of the other behavior" (Yukl, 2005, p. 51). These two categories, consideration and initiating structure, are described in Table 2 below.

Table 2

Main Findings of the Ohio State Studies

Category

Description

Consideration

This category of behavior involves leader concern for people and interpersonal relationships. The leader acts in a friendly and supportive manner and shows concerns for the needs and feelings of subordinates. Examples include doing personal favors for subordinates, finding time to listen to a subordinate with a problem, backing up or defending a subordinate, consulting with subordinates on important matters, being willing to accept suggestions from subordinates and treating a subordinate as an equal

Initiating structure

This category of behavior involves leader concern for accomplishing the task. The leader defines and structures his or her own role and the roles of subordinates towards attainment of task goals. Example include criticizing poor work, emphasizing the importance of meeting deadlines, assigning subordinates to tasks, maintaining definite standards of performance, asking subordinates to follow standard procedures, offering new approaches to problems, and coordinating the activity of different subordinates

Source: Yukl, 2005, p. 51

. 4.

What are some guidelines for defining job responsibilities and setting performance goals?

Defining job responsibilities can be a straightforward and informal process that is based on empirical observations concerning what a job routinely entails such as provided by a human resources desk audit or it can be more complex and formalized, involving extensive day-to-day observations and recordation of employee tasks and activities that can then be used to formulate a codified list of responsibilities. The definition of job responsibilities for many positions will likely not be a static affair, especially in organizations that are experiencing substantial change, but is rather a dynamic requirement that must be conducted from time to time as individual responsibilities change. Which ever approach is used, though, setting performance goals will ultimately be based on how effectively people perform these job responsibilities, making an accurate assessment critically important (Buttner & Gryskiewicz, 1999). These are especially important issues when performance goals are tied to employee evaluations that can have an enormous effect on an individual's earnings and career development. For example, Seijts and Latham (2006) emphasize that, "Nearly all executives understand the importance of goal setting. And yet, most organizations have no idea how to manage specific, challenging goals, or what are sometimes labeled 'stretch goals.' For example, some organizations may ask employees to double sales or reduce product-development time but fail to provide those employees with the knowledge they need to meet these goals" (p. 1). In these cases, management has established laudable goals but has done the affected employees a disservice by failing to provide them with the resources -- including training -- that they may require to achieve them. To the extent that subordinates are held accountable for their failure to achieve performance goals in these types of situations is likely the extent to which employee morale and future performance will be adversely affected (Seijts & Latham, 2006). Therefore, establishing realistic performance goals and providing subordinates with the resources they need to achieve them is an integral part of defining accurate and timely job responsibilities.

5.

What are some guidelines for effective conflict management and team building?

Since all organizations are comprised of people, conflict is inevitable and occurs regularly in all types and sizes of organizations. Therefore, effective conflict resolution and team building techniques are an essential part of organizational leadership. Because all organizations are different, the types of conflict management approaches that are most effective will also differ, and some managers seem to possess an intuitive ability to understand what approach is best suited to various circumstances. For the majority of the less fortunate managers, though, conflict resolution may appear untenable because of the powerful nature of the personalities and other factors that may be involved, but left unresolved, conflicts can assume larger and larger dimensions until they actually harm the organization. Effectively confronted and resolved, though, all types of conflicts represent opportunities for improvement and innovation. Successful conflict resolution can be achieved through various compromises, wherein everyone involved gives up something in order to receive at least part of what they are after but such compromises tend to leave everyone involved feeling less than completely satisfied with the outcome. In the alternative, one side or the other may win out completely, but this alternative of course results in some parties to the conflict feeling they have been marginalized and underappreciated. Such outcomes can lead to further conflicts down the road, or even inordinately high levels of employee turnover and diminished morale among those who chose to stay.

By building effective teams, though, managers can help the conflict resolution process along in ways that would not be possible in other settings. Team-building can contribute to mutually shared beliefs concerning what course of action is best suited to the circumstances, as well as providing the framework in which all team members have the opportunities to express their views and have their heard. In this regard, Biech (2001) reports that team-building and conflict resolution frequently go hand-in-hand: "If conflict is the issue, it needs to be addressed head on. Members must see that conflict can be an important and positive part of teamwork. The team will have to develop a plan to manage conflict. If it is too serious, a team-building intervention may be necessary" (2001, p. 5).

6.

What are different varieties of participation? Specific examples?

Varieties of participation in organizational settings also exist along a continuum from little or no participation to full participation, with varying degrees existing in between these two extremes. According to Yukl, most varieties of participative leadership, though, involve some type of process whereby subordinates exert some level of influence over the decisions made by leaders. Alternatively referred to as consultation, joint decision making, power-sharing, decentralization, empowerment, and democratic management, Yukl adds that, "Participative leadership can be regarded as a distinct type of behavior, although it may be used in conjunction with specific tasks and relation behaviors" (p. 82). According to Yukl, just as there are a number of definitions of leadership, there are also various participative leadership types. In this regard, Yukl identifies the four following types of participative leadership that exist along a continuum of collaboration with others as set forth in Table 3 below.

Table 3

Participative Leadership Styles

Leadership Type

Description

Autocratic decision

The manager makes a decision alone without asking for the opinions or suggestions of other people and these people have no direct influence on the decision. There is no participation.

Consultation

The manager asks other people for their opinions and ideas and then makes the decision alone after seriously considering their suggestions and concerns.

Joint decision

The manager meets with others to discuss the decision problem and make a decision together. The manager has no more influence over the final decision than any other participant.

Delegation

The manager gives an individual or group the authority and responsibility for making a decision; the manager usually specifies limits within which the final choice must fall, and prior approval may or may not be required before the decision can be implemented.

Source: Yakl, 2005, pp. 82-83

Each of the foregoing participative leadership types, of course, has its corresponding strengths and weaknesses and it is clear there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach that is best suited for all circumstances. What is known, though, is that studies have shown time and again that people want and need to have their voice heard in the workplace. Indeed, many organizations readily proclaim that "our people are our most valuable resource"; however, it is also reasonable to assume that not all organizations live up to this proclamation by actively soliciting and acting upon feedback from their workers, and they fail to do so at their own peril. While Yukl makes the case that even in the most extreme circumstances along the participative leadership continuum that managers ultimately are held responsible for the outcomes related to their decisions, participative leadership provides "a variety of potential benefits, but whether the benefits occur depends on who the participants are, how much influence they have, and other aspects of the decision situation" (2005, p. 84). Among the primary benefits that can accrue to managers that the use of appropriate styles of participative management include the following: (a) higher decision quality, (b) higher decision acceptance by participants, (c) more satisfaction with the decision process, and (d) more development of decision-making skills (Yukl,…

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