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Assessing your own leadership capability Essay

Understand leadership styles within an organisation

1.1 Review the prevailing leadership styles in the organisation

There are a range of leadership styles that can be adopted by organisations in order to try to achieve their goals. Each of these is often suited to certain situations and has drawbacks preventing any one style being the best style of leadership for all situations.

Even within organisation different styles of leadership can be identified with this being more prominent in larger organisations with a longer chain of command. One “study suggests that differences in the leadership styles practised by managers may be blurred in organisations with short chains of command, while it will tend to be pronounced in organisations with long chains of command, other things being equal.” (Oshagbemi T & Gill R, 2004)

Within Dacorum Borough Council there are different prevailing leadership styles present at different levels of the organisation. On a corporate level senior management are trying to adopt a transformational style of leadership, which would reflect the changing nature of the organisation. However a trait style of leadership is far more prevalent, with this being of a task orientated nature.

This is due to that although ambitious new projects are planned and underway, often work is set in a very formal manner or very inflexible due to the demand of the politicians who have a large influence on how work is undertaken. This is reinforced by the way telling, rather than selling, or preferential gaining true buy-in, has been adopted with very little staff engagement within the senior levels of the organisation.

Even since major management changes four years ago when 50% of the senior management team were made redundant the council has still struggled to fully move to the transformational leadership style that it is clearly trying to establish. When the senior management team was reorganised managers were kept who were flexible and could identify and act on opportunities. However given the political constraints I have mentioned above this is often problematic with the council needing to fulfil often bureaucratic processes.

Although much of the work directed from senior management levels is task orientated, once these have been set the middle managers vary across the organisation in their own styles of leadership. The amount these vary is quite dramatic with some areas adopting a laissez-faire approach and others taking a much more autocratic approach to the leadership style that is used. Much of this can be down to personality and the types of work that are being delivered.

Tannenbaum & Schmidt looked at the issue of leadership styles within organisation and developed a leadership continuum. The model demonstrates the relationship between the level of freedom that a manager chooses to give to a team and the level of authority used by the manager. (Tannenbaum, Robert and Schmidt, 1973) This model assists leaders and managers in their choice of leadership pattern by making them aware of the forces which are most relevant.

At a middle manager level there are different levels of freedoms within the organisation corresponding to the leadership styles that have been adopted and the service area staff work in. Within my service there is less freedom, as the head of service has a very hand on attitude to certain elements of work, often meaning that rather than having full control over a situation that at best this is done via consultation and more frequently direction.

There are three sub teams in my area and even between these different approaches are taken as the head of service is a specialist in one of the areas but has very little interest in another which is reflected in the way that they interact with the managers below. This allows some mangers in the team more freedoms and others less so, thus restricting their own abilities to do there jobs.

1.2 Assess the impact of the prevailing leadership styles on the organisation’s values and performance

The task orientated leadership that is demonstrated by Dacorum Borough
Council effects the values and performance of the organisation, with the two heavily linked together.

With Dacorum being a large complex organisation, which needs to fulfil statutory responsibilities to the tax payers, the senior management need to establish a leadership style that then can both do this but also strive to establish the vast changes that are planned for the organisation in the coming months and years. However this is sometimes at odds with the values that Dacorum have recently been promoting of becoming more innovative and transformational, to match the way in which future working and the physical surroundings themselves will be changing.

The task orientated approach leads work and key projects being defined at a senior level with often one of the senior managers taking an active role in the project to oversee these. This has led on occasion to middle managers being disillusioned by having little say over decisions they could be involved in and being told what action is required.

This approach may have more positive impacts in areas such as finance and benefits, as this approach would be more suited to a more highly regulated service area which would add certainty in the way work is carried out.

One of the core values that the council is fostering is that of creating a high performance culture. However, as I have mentioned above, the style of leadership shown by the senior management can be stifling to the middle level managers below them and not motivate them to want to work towards the vision that they have very little influence over.

Middle management at Dacorum has adopted democratic and bureaucratic styles within different areas of the council. Input is taken from lower level managers and a selling approach, rather than telling, used when setting goals and targets. This has a better impact on employees with an understanding of what is trying to be achieved and gains some buy in from those expected to deliver the work programme. This approach will harness better results as the performance of staff under a task orientated or
autocratic style when not in a time of crisis. (Unknown (2013))

Be able to review effectiveness of own leadership capability and performance in meeting organisational values and goals

2. 1 Assess own ability to apply different leadership styles in a range of situations

Different leadership styles are required for different situations as each style has its own benefits and drawbacks. Examples of when different styles would be required can be seen through Tuckmans (1965) model where teams are forming, storming, norming and performing.

As a team is forming, this can be a new team or when new employees have joined the team, the employees need to be given clear direction with reliance upon the leader for both guidance and instruction. During this stage it would be appropriate to adopt a more autocratic approach to leadership; this would be shown towards the left hand side of the Tannenbaum & Schmidt model.

Once formed the team would then move to the storming stage where individual’s roles are established. This stage requires coaching to help with uncertainties that could exist within the team and the leadership style to start moving towards the right on the Tannenbaum & Schmidt model.

After the storming stage the team will enter the norming, this is where the roles and responsibilities are understood and the team encourage each other with the leader gaining respect. At this stage a democratic style of leadership can be adopted where the leader acts to facilitate rather than give firm direction.

The final stage, which some teams may never achieve, is the performing stage. During this stage instruction is no longer required as independence is achieved and the team moves towards shared goals. At this stage a laissez faire style can be adopted where each team member knows what they are doing
and needs little guidance.

Team Focus Inclusion: “Why are we here?” Control: “I want to have my say.”Openness: “Let’s do it.” Success: “Wow, we’re great!” Typical Team Behaviors Dependent on leader/facilitator Uneven/tentative participation Quiet defiance Polite conversation Conflict Question leadership, authority, rules Verbal/nonverbal resistance Dysfunctional behaviour Frustration Give/receive feedback Encourage others Active listening Recognize and discuss differences Trust and comfort Task appears to be effortless Interdependence develops Balanced, supportive participation Differences valued and discussed candidly Facilitator Focus To model openness, disclosure, and active listening

To help the team recognize group dynamics and address conflict positively To uncover unspoken issues and encourage self-critique To teach the team to self-facilitate Facilitator Behaviors Listen, especially to what is not said. Be attuned to nonverbal cues that signal apprehension. Intervene. Demonstrate disclosure by expressing your feelings. Ensure objective, goals, and agenda are clear. Use icebreakers to encourage disclosure. Ask team members to clarify their assignments at close of meeting. Pay particular attention to group dynamics. Be specific when describing behaviours.

Encourage team members to discuss their feelings. Encourage team members to discuss their interests versus their positions. Immediately point out non-conformance to ground rules. Encourage self-critique. Encourage the full exploration of ideas. Explore inferences. Plan with the team leader how to share leadership role. Coach the team in facilitator skills. Plan brief sessions for the team to recognize progress. Encourage reinforcing and redirecting feedback.

As well as this different styles may be appropriate for other reasons, such as adopting a more autocratic approach in times of crisis to speed up decision making without dissent, such as in times of war.

When I first started out as a manager I was managing three members of staff, all of which were new to their roles, with two new to the council. The team at this point was very much in a forming stage where clear direction was needed from all members of the team and a decisive autocratic style was needed to give stability and assurance to the team. Of the three employees it was clear that each had different strengths and weaknesses as well as goals and ambition within their roles. Naturally I have a tendency towards a theory Y (McGregor, 1960) style of management which offers more coaching rather than taking such an autocratic approach.

This situation required this firm approach and it was only was each team member was confortable in their roles and the storming process had finished that I was able to move towards my natural tendencies. It was noted that while all team members joined at approximately the same time some settled and became familiar with their responsibilities and objectives quicker than other team members. This meant I could take different approaches when dealing with different members of the team, as some where still storming while others had a clear grasp on their role and were now performing.

Moving forwards the team will be changing as will how we work at the council. While we move through this process a transformational style of leadership will be of most benefit to the team, who are now well formed. Rather than continue to use a situational style, the team understand how their work fits in to the organisation goals and with the wider vision.

By fostering the feelings of trust, admiration, loyalty and respect, and because of the qualities of the transformational style of leadership, staff are willing to work harder than originally expected (Bass & Riggio, 2006). This style requires the leader to act as a role model for followers, to inspire them while challenging them to take greater ownership for their work. This will be explored in more detail under section 3.1.

2.2 Assess own ability to communicate the organisation’s values and goals to staff in own area

Dacorum Borough Council has both clear values and goals. The goals are set out through the corporate vision as well corporate documents by both senior management and middle managers. The values come through from the vision of the council as well as more formalised values within corporate policy documents, although many values, such as performing a good public service are not explicit in corporate documents.

To communicate these values and goals to staff within my own area I use range of communication tools and methods.

The most important thing to establish is the individual needs of each member of staff to make a judgement on which methods will work best to get the messages through that I would like to deliver. With all staff in my area who I manage I hold regular 1-2-1’s and appraisals, This helps me understand what types of communication and interaction suits them best as well as giving a clear opportunity to talk about their objectives and demonstrate how these fit in to the wider goals and then to the vision of the organisation.

Commitment to goals & values are built through these meetings, where action plans are linked to the key delivery documents (PID’s) which are focused around delivering the organisation goal, which creates the ‘golden thread’ through all the work we do.

Feedback through these 1-2-1’s is an important mechanism as this can reinforce positive behaviours that are in keeping with the corporate values and goals although once again the level of feedback will need to be different for different members of staff depending on how they like to be managed.

Another method that I regularly use to help communicate the key goals is through regular team meetings. At these meetings it is also important to recognise that the way one speaks to a group may need to differ from interacting with individuals, as it is important to find the best method that helps communicate the goals and values to the group as just using the same techniques may alienate some members of staff.

To reinforce the values it is important to ensure that when the goals are set they are grounded in the values of the organisation. This helps that when setting individual objectives with staff that the link between all of this work is clear and easy to identify and understand. Gaining the buy in from the staff ensures that they will

By using the corporate values in the work we set it helps to create a consistency and fairness when dealing with all members of staff so that one approach is adopted.

As well as this we also hold annual or bi-annual service events where the key messages and values from the organisation are reinforced, with this giving members f staff to not only give feedback on their objectives but also ion the goals which have set.

2.3 Assess own ability to motivate others and build commitment to the organisation’s values and goals

In motivating a team the first aspect is to identify what it is that motivates the individuals. When holding regular 1-2-1’s with staff I would look to establish what motivates them so I can look to develop a framework for how I can create the conditions for them to be motivated. It is important to remember that rather than trying to motivate staff we should be trying to create the conditions where staff will be motivated.

Maslow (1943) stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs. When one need is fulfilled a person seeks to fulfil the next one, and so on. This model can be used to assist in the understanding of human behaviour and understanding motivation by listing the key driving forces for individuals.

Following this framework it shows how manages nee to create the correct environment for their staff and the staff will then act to motivate themselves.

Now the team I manage is settled, with all the members of staff settled in their roles, I am able to identify mechanisms that will help create the conditions to motivate each member of staff. Although each member of staff is an individual it is possible to sometimes group individuals together if they share the same individual motivations, e.g. if two members of the team were both seeking further social needs through work then it may be possible to use the tools to help achieve a situation to motivate both of these employees.

Setting clear goals which jointly created objectives can feed into helps in this process of staff understanding why certain tasks are being carried out and helps to create greater ownership of the work they are doing.

The CMI motivating the demotivated checklist offers other examples of how staff can be addressed to increase motivation within the work place. The checklist includes offering help with planning, involve the unmotivated, try to get buy in, and make sure the rules are clear. These examples have been carried through to help identify when these approaches can be used to address individual situations.

Be able to adopt an effective leadership style to motivate staff to achieve organisational values and goals

3.1 Justify the most effective leadership style to motivate staff in own area, to achieve the organisation’s values and goals

While one needs to ensure in a given situation the leadership style that is chosen be explicit in order to remain consistent and ensure that a clear message is delivered, the leadership style chosen must be correct for the situation and be able to be reviewed as a situation changes.

Given the range of leadership styles that have been identified it will be important that the correct style is chosen by a leader in order to get the most out of staff. Theories have evolved from the “great man” notion of heroic leaders, through trait theories, behaviourist theories, situational leadership, contingency theory and on to transactional and transformational leadership.

As I have described in previous questions the team are currently in a state where each member knows their roles and are comfortable in the job they are doing. Dacorum Borough Council will be changing the way we work over the next two years and this will affect all staff in the council including those who work in my area. This will mean that the leadership style that I take on will need to be able to accommodate these changes and motivate staff to get the best results in a time of change.

Given the changing nature of the team and the changes due to take place in the future a contingency-situational theory may be appropriate. These theories were developed to indicate that the style to be used is contingent upon such factors as the situation, the people, the task, the organisation, and other environmental variables. (Boulden & Gosling (2003))

A situational style of leadership, such as through the Hersey-Blanchard model of leadership, allows the developmental levels of a leader’s subordinates to play the greatest role in determining which leadership styles are most appropriate. From here four leadership styles develop: Directing, Coaching, Supporting and Delegating. This approach was used when the team first formed and as the team matured and moved towards performing, on the Tuckman stages of team development, so I could change my style to reduce task behaviour and increase relationship behaviour until the followers reach a moderate level of maturity

A more recent approach would have been to use a situational model as described by Tannenbaum & Schmidt. Rather than responding to the maturity of subordinates they view leadership along a continuum from one extreme of autocracy to the other as democracy with subordinate’s participation and involvement increasing as you move along. This approach allows you to change based on the situation you are in and more readily respond to changes in the environment.

The theories mentioned previously describe ways in which could be used to successfully manage my team, however the leadership style that has the potential to motivate staff in my area most will through a transformational style of leadership. Employees in my area are now well established and performing well but in the future more will be expected from each of us and I feel that this form of leadership has the most potential to give subordinates genuine self-esteem and self-actualisation.

This style of leadership requires me, as the leader, to take actions to increase employees awareness of what is right and important to raise their motivational maturity and to move them to go beyond their own self-interests for the good of the group and the organisation.

Transformational Style Leader Behaviour
1) Idealized Behaviours: living one’s ideals
• Talk about their most important values and beliefs
• Specify the importance of having a strong sense of purpose

• Consider the moral and ethical consequences of decisions

• Champion exciting new possibilities
• Talk about the importance of trusting each other
2) Inspirational Motivation: inspiring others
• Talk optimistically about the future
• Talk enthusiastically about what needs to be accomplished

• Articulate a compelling vision of the future
• Express confidence that goals will be achieved
• Provide an exciting image of what is essential to consider

• Take a stand on controversial issues
3) Intellectual Stimulation: stimulating others
• Re-examine critical assumptions to question whether they are appropriate

• Seek differing perspectives when solving problems
• Get others to look at problems from many different angles

• Suggest new ways of looking at how to complete assignments

• Encourage non-traditional thinking to deal with traditional problems

• Encourage rethinking those ideas which have never been questioned before 4) Individualized Consideration: coaching and development

• Spend time teaching and coaching
• Treat others as individuals rather than just as members of the group

• Consider individuals as having different needs, abilities, and aspirations from others

• Help others to develop their strengths

• Listen attentively to others’ concerns
• Promote self-development
5) Idealized Attributes: Respect, trust, and faith
• In still pride in others for being associated with them

• Go beyond their self-interests for the good of the group

• Act in ways that build others’ respect
• Display a sense of power and competence
• Make personal sacrifices for others’ benefit
• Reassure others that obstacles will be overcome
Transformational Leadership Styles and Behaviours (Bass and Riggio, 2006)

This approach allows for the elevation of the needs for employees (from security needs to needs for achievement and self-development) which in turn will allow for greater productivity with well-motivated staff and allow for high performance.

3.2 Implement the most effective leadership style in order to motivate staff in own area to achieve the organisation’s values and goals

As there are significant barriers that exist in order to implement a change in leadership style at the senior management level within the organisation this approach will be first adopted within my service to use as a test case for the wider organisation. Based on whether this style of leadership is successful this can then be reported back through the organisation through the various senior management meetings.

A first step to adopting this within my service area will be to meet with other managers of people, as this approach will need to be adopted across the service area to become effective. Once the buy-in of front line managers and the middle managers has been secured I will meet with staff to discuss the organisational values and see how these fit with theirs. At these meetings I will also again set a clear direction of where and what we want to achieve and reiterate how their specific objectives are working towards our goals of making Dacorum a better place to live and work. These themes will then also run through team meetings and 1-2-1’s to further reinforce
this message.

The next step will be to set the example of a positive new direction and embracing the changes that we are about to face both for the team and for the council as a whole. Regular communication of these messages will be made through regular meetings and as the changes draw closer team days to look at how we can take the most out of these future opportunities.

Some of my time will be allocated towards both mentoring and coaching of staff to help bring out their strengths and to work on any areas which the staff feel require further development.

Bass B M & Riggio R E (2006). Transformational Leadership (Second ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Bolden R & Gosling J (2003), A review of Leadership theory and competency frameworks, Centre for leadership studies: University of Exeter.

Hersey P & Blanchard K H (1969), Life cycle theory of leadership, Training and Development Journal, 23 (5), pp 26-34

Maslow A H (1943), A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), pp370-96.

McGregor D (1960), The human side of enterprise. McGraw Hill Higher Education

Oshagbemi T & Gill R (2004), Differences in leadership styles and behaviour across hierarchical levels in UK organisations, Emerald 25.

Tannenbaum R & Schmidt W (1973), Choosing a leadership pattern. Harvard Business Review, May-June 1973, Cambridge, Mass

Taraschi R (1998), cutting the ties that bind, Training and development USA, Nov vol. 52 no. 11, pp. 12-14.

Tuckman B (1965), development sequence in small goups. Psychological bulletin. 63, pp 84-99, Bethseda

Unknown (2013), Various ILM 5 course handouts, May-July

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