MOS 2181 Chapter 9 Leadership.pdf

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Management and Organizational Studies
Management and Organizational Studies 2181A/B
Victoria Digby

MOS 2181  Chapter 9 Leadership 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 produces 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 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 performance.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, performance, 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 relatively favourably (a 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 dissatisfy. Evidence and Criticism. In general, there is some research support for the situational propositions of the theory. Supportive or considerate leader behaviour is most beneficial in supervising routine, frustrating, or dissatisfying jobs. Directive or structuring leader behaviour is most effective on ambiguous, less structured jobs. As well, the theory is more effective in predicting employee job satisfaction and acceptance of the leader than in predicting employee performance. VI. Participative Leadership: Involving Employees in Decisions An important topic of leadership is participative leadership. A. What is Participation? Participative leadership involves employees in making work-related decisions. Leaders can vary in the extent to which they involve employees in decision- making. Participative leadership should not, however, be confused with abdication of leadership, which is almost always ineffective. Participation can involve individual employees or the entire group of employees that reports to the leader. B. Potential Advantages of Participative Leadership There are several advantages of participative leadership. Motivation. Participation can increase the motivation of employees. Participation leads to the establishment of work goals and can increase intrinsic motivation by enriching subordinates’ jobs. Quality. Participation can lead to higher-quality decisions and empower employees to take direct action to solve problems. Acceptance. Participation can increase employees’ acceptance of decisions especially when issues of fairness are involved. C. Potential Problems of Participative Leadership There are several difficulties associated with participation. Time and Energy. Participation involves specific behaviours on the part of the leader and these behaviours use time and energy. Loss of Power. Some leaders feel that a participative style will reduce their power and influence. Lack of Receptivity or Knowledge. Employees might not be receptive to participation or might lack the knowledge to contribute effectively to decisions. D. A Situational Model of Participation Victor Vroom and Arthur Jago have developed a model that attempts to specify in a practical manner when leaders should use participation and to what extent they should use it. This model takes into account various degrees of participation that can be exhibited by the leader including autocratic, consultative, and group consensus. The most effective strategy depends on the situation or problem at hand. In general, the leader’s goal should be to make high-quality decisions to which employees will be adequately committed without undue delay. To do this, he or she must consider a number of questions in a decision tree. By taking a problem through the decision tree, the leader can determine the correct degree of participation for the problem solving situation. Following the model’s prescriptions is more likely to lead to succes
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