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Chapter 9

MGHB02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Fred Fiedler, Assertiveness, Organizational Commitment


Department
Management (MGH)
Course Code
MGHB02H3
Professor
Julie Mc Carthy
Chapter
9

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Questions and Exercises prepared by Alan Saks.
I. What is Leadership?
Leadership is the influence that particular individuals exert on the goal achievement of others in an
organizational context. Although any organizational member can influence other members, individuals
with titles such as manager, executive supervisor, and department head are in assigned leadership roles
and are expected to exert formal leadership and influence others.
II. Are Leaders Born? The Search for Leadership Traits
Throughout history, social observers have been fascinated by obvious examples of successful
interpersonal influence. The implicit assumption is that those who become leaders and do a good job of
it possess a special set of traits that distinguish them from the masses of followers. Trait theories of
leadership, however, did not receive serious scientific attention until the 1900s.
A. Research on Leadership Traits
During World War I, the US military began to search for those traits which would help in identifying
future officers. Traits are individual characteristics such as physical characteristics, intellectual ability,
and personality. While many traits are not related to leadership, research shows some traits are
associated with leadership although the connections are not very strong.
In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the study of leadership traits, and a number of
studies have shown that certain traits are closely linked to leadership including emotional intelligence
and several of the “Big Five” personality dimensions (agreeableness, extraversion, and openness to
experience). However, the usefulness of these findings and the trait approach is questionable.
B. Limitations of the Trait Approach
There are several reasons why the trait approach is not the best means of understanding and improving
leadership. First, it is difficult to determine if traits make the leader or if opportunity for leadership
p
roduces the traits. Second, we have few clues about what leaders actually do to influence others
successfully. Third, the most crucial problem of the trait approach to leadership is its failure to take into
account the situation in which leadership occurs. However, traits are a precondition for certain actions
that a leader must take in order to be successful.
III. Lessons from Emergent Leadership
Following the discouragement with the trait approach, psychologists began to investigate what leaders
do in group settings. These studies concentrated on emergent leadership or the behaviours in which
certain group members exhibit that cause them to become leaders.
Two leadership roles were apparent. The task leader is a leader who is concerned with accomplishing a
task by organizing others, planning strategy, and dividing labour. The social-emotional leader is a
leader who is concerned with reducing tension, patching up disagreements, settling arguments, and
maintaining morale. Both of these functions are important leadership roles. Thus, in general, leaders
must be concerned with both the social-emotional and task functions.
IV. The Behaviour of Assigned Leaders
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What are the crucial behaviours that leaders engage in, and how do these behaviours influence
subordinate performance and satisfaction?
A. Consideration and Initiating Structure
The most involved, systematic study of leadership began at Ohio State University . This research had
employees describe their superiors along a number of behavioural dimensions. This revealed two basic
types of leadership behaviour. Consideration involves the extent to which the leader is approachable
and shows personal concern for employees. Initiating structure involves the degree to which the leader
concentrates on group goal attainment.
B. The Consequences of Consideration and Structure
Research shows that consideration and initiating structure both contribute positively to employees’
motivation, job satisfaction, and leader effectiveness. However, consideration is more strongly related to
follower satisfaction (leader satisfaction and job satisfaction), motivation, and leader effectiveness,
while initiating structure is slightly more strongly related to leader job performance and group
p
erformance.There is some evidence that the relative importance of consideration and initiating structure
varies according to the nature of the leadership situation. In general, the effects of consideration and
initiating structure depend on characteristics of the task, the employee, and the setting in which the work
is performed. These contingencies will determine which behaviour is most appropriate and when it is to
be employed.
C. Leader Reward and Punishment Behaviours
Leader reward behaviour provides employees with compliments, tangible benefits, and deserved
special treatment. Leader punishment behaviour involves the use of reprimands or unfavourable task
assignments and the active withholding of raises, promotions, and other rewards. Contingent leader
reward and punishment behaviour is positively related to employees’ perceptions (e.g., trust in
supervisor), attitudes (e.g., job satisfaction and organizational commitment), and behaviour (e.g., effort,
p
erformance, organizational citizenship behaviour). Noncontingent punishment behaviour is negatively
related to these outcomes.
V. Situational Theories of Leadership
The situation refers to the setting in which influence attempts occur. The setting includes the
characteristics of the employees, the nature of the task they are performing, and characteristics of the
organization. Two of the best known and most studied leadership theories are Fiedler’s Contingency
Theory and House’s Path-Goal Theory.
A. Fiedler's Contingency Theory
Fred Fiedler has developed a situational theory of leadership called Contingency Theory. According to
the theory, the association between leadership orientation and group effectiveness is contingent on
(depends on) the extent to which the situation is favourable for the exertion of influence.
Leadership Orientation. Fiedler has measured leadership orientation by having leaders describe their
Least Preferred Co-worker (LPC), a current or past co-worker with whom the leader has had a
difficult time accomplishing a task. Fiedler has argued that the LPC score reveals a personality trait that
reflects the leader's motivational structure. The leader who describes the LPC relativel
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high LPC score) can be considered relationship oriented. The leader who describes the LPC
unfavourably (a low LPC score) can be considered task oriented.
Situational Favourableness. This is the "contingency" part of Contingency Theory. Factors affecting
situational favourableness include: leader-member relations, task structure, and position power. In
general, the situation is most favourable for leadership when leader-member relations are good, the task
is structured, and the leader has strong position power.
The Contingency Model. According to the theory, a task orientation (low LPC) is most effective when
the leadership situation is very favourable or when it is very unfavourable. A relationship orientation
(high LPC) is most effective in conditions of medium favourability.
Evidence and Criticism. Although there is reasonable support for Fiedler's Contingency Theory, several
studies have found some evidence to be contradictory suggesting that theory needs some adjustment.
B. House's Path-Goal Theory
House's Path-Goal Theory is concerned with the situations under which various leader behaviours
(directive, supportive, participative, achievement-oriented) are most effective.
The Theory. According to House, effective leaders form a connection between employee goals and
organizational goals. In order to provide job satisfaction and leader acceptance, leader behaviour must
be perceived as immediately satisfying or as leading to future satisfaction.
Leader Behavior. Path-Goal Theory is concerned with four specific kinds of leader behaviour:
Directive behaviour. Directive leaders schedule work, maintain performance standards, and let
employees know what is expected of them.
Supportive behaviour. Supportive leaders are friendly, approachable, and concerned with pleasant
interpersonal relationships.
Participative behaviour. Participative leaders consult with employees about work-related matters and
consider their opinions.
Achievement-oriented behaviour. Achievement-oriented leaders encourage employees to strive for a
high level of goal accomplishment.
Situational Factors. Path-Goal Theory is concerned with two primary classes of situational factors:
employee characteristics and environmental factors. Different types of employees need or prefer
different forms of leadership. Thus, employees who are for example, high need achievers, prefer to be
told what to do, or who feel that they have low task abilities will each respond best to certain types of
leadership.
Also, according to the theory, the effectiveness of leadership depends on the particular work
environment. Thus, routine tasks, challenging but ambiguous tasks, and frustrating, dissatisfying jobs
each require specific leader behaviours for leadership to be effective. Effective leaders should take
advantage of the motivating and satisfying aspects of jobs while offsetting or compensating for those job
aspects that demotivate or dissatisf
y
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