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Leadership Essay

This assignment will examine models and styles of leadership. A reflective analysis will be given of how I led a research team, the impact of Emotional Intelligence on effective leadership will also be discussed. “The word leader is derived from the Anglo Saxon ‘lede’, meaning ‘to go’. So an organisation that has a leader assumes it is going somewhere”. Adair 1970. There are many theories of what makes a good leader, and also several models of leadership.

One of the experts in the field John Adair, whilst working as a lecturer in the 1960-1970s at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, devised a simple model of “Action-centred Leadership”. It is represented by three equally sized overlapping circles. Each circle represents a core management responsibility, namely – achieving the task, managing the team and managing the individual. The three elements of Adair’s model are mutually dependent, but also separate to the overall leadership role.

Working as a Research Nurse leading a team I quickly recognised that there is no single style of leadership that produces the desired results, each member of the team is individual and responds differently. The ideal approach is to use the style of leadership appropriate to the situation. A good leader will adopt several styles and is able to use them seamlessly and in different measures, it is a skill which needs mastered over time. “A skilled leader will also be able to catch the mood of the time”.

Adair (1970). There are six basic leadership styles: – Coercive, authoritative, affilliative, democratic, pacesetting and coaching. The coercive style can be very effective in crisis situations, when situations need resolved speedily. It can have a negative effect on employee’s motivation and can be perceived as dictatorial. The authoritative style is useful when a team appears to be dysfunctional, though it can become problematic when steering teams of experts who maybe more experienced than the leader.

The affilliative style of leadership displays, “people come first” attitude, this helps in trying to bring a team together to produce more effectively. The democratic style allows employees to have a voice in shared decisions and become involved in generating new ideas. Although it can be effective, it can also be very time consuming, and the identity of the leader may be lost. The fifth style of leadership is “the pacesetting” style – this is where the leader sets high standards and is visibly adhering to those standards.

This approach can have a motivating effect, but can also produce negativity if unachievable targets are set. Finally the coaching style of leadership – this focuses more on personal development than on tasks or targets. It encourages self-awareness, allowing the leader to identify areas of weakness, and able to embrace change rather than resist it. Traits theorists like Stogdill (1974) believed that leaders were born, not made, this approach was best suited to selecting leaders rather than developing them. The people who made good leaders had the right combination of traits.

Reflecting on my role as a leader, my main focus was to encourage and motivate staff. It was essential to acknowledge that nurses on the unit were already under pressure with their day to day tasks, in an ever-changing critical environment. To then request staff to participate in a research project required a tactful and supportive approach. l was conscious of the importance of being a visible team leader, and being available to support and encourage staff. Having not had any leadership training in my career, I found myself relying on my intuition in certain situations.

To create a positive research culture requires commitment, determination, consistency and a high level of motivation. How do I motivate staff? Was a question I often asked myself. I acknowledged that the “one size fits all” approach does not work. Individuals are motivated by different interests. How I viewed the project and how others did varied greatly, as did enthusiasm. My view was that this was potentially a ground-breaking study which could change the way the world managed a specific patient group.

For others it was just another research project. When individuals are motivated the visible trend is that of high performance with consistently high results, an energetic and enthusiastic work force, which have a clear determination to succeed. They have a willingness to overcome problems, accept responsibility and embrace change. These are essential attributes to create a positive research culture. Maslow’s (1970 ) hierarchy of needs demonstrates how individuals can reach their full potential if their basic needs are met.

Csikszentmihalyi (1975) work claims individuals are well motivated by achievable tasks, when they utilise their specific skills. Also when individuals are trusted by senior colleagues encourages motivation; however goals need to be clear and realistic. Receiving feedback is also important, employees need to be listened to and supported, and they also need recognition from managers. These concepts are also highlighted in Maslow’s (1970) theory, individuals need to feel valued and appreciated to maintain high levels of motivation.

When employees lack motivation the picture that emerges is that of apathy and indifference, poor time keeping and high sickness rates. There is a tendency to resist change, to exaggerate difficulties within the workplace and a lack of co-operation in dealing with problems. Hertzberg was the first theorist to identify that satisfaction and dissatisfaction at work nearly always arose from different factors and were not simply opposing reactions to the same factors. Goleman (1998). “The opposite of job dissatisfaction is not job satisfaction, but no job dissatisfaction”.

Hertzberg (1959). I used an inclusive approach in my role to promote motivation among the team. For example, regularly updating staff with any results or developments within the project, inviting staff to work alongside the research team so as to gain insight into the process of Clinical Research. I placed great emphasis on ensuring the staff felt valued in their role, without their contribution to the project the research could not happen. Ensuring two-way communication, a reminder of what the aim was and how it may impact on patient’s outcomes in the future was also important.

As I set out in my new role as a Research Nurse, I knew little of the theory of Emotional Intelligence (EI) and how it can impact on productivity within a workforce. EI is a relatively recent behavioural model, originally developed by three psychologists, Mayer, Salovey et al (1998 ). The principles of EI provide a new way to understand and assess people’s behaviour, their styles of management, attitudes, interpersonal skills and potential. Reviewing the work of Goleman (1995) enabled me to recognise that people view things differently, what excites one person may create stress for another.

Goleman (1998) identified five domains of EI. It is important to know your own emotions and to be able to manage them, this may help in motivating yourself. The ability to recognise and understand others emotions is necessary for organisational and individual development. EI can also be inter-linked with other behaviour, emotional and communication theories such as Neuro-linguistic Programming and empathy. Goleman believes that developing EI, people can become more productive and more effective when developing others.

It can also be useful in reducing stress by decreasing conflict, improving relationships and understanding, increasing stability, continuity and harmony within the workplace. Guidelines for Promoting Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace were produced by Chermiss and Goleman (2011), summarising the best current knowledge relating to promoting EI in the workplace. Reviewing the literature an evaluating my role as a leader of a research team, I have a clearer understanding of leadership styles and models, and the importance of understanding the science of Emotional Intelligence and its effect on workforce performance.

Using Gibbs Reflective Cycle (1988) in future leadership roles will enable me to assess situations in a more timely structured and objective manner, rather than being reactionary and subjective, particularly when conflicts and poor performance indicator’s arise. I have identified that the leadership styles I have adopted in the past are a combination of pacesetting, affilliative, and participative. When I am time-pressured I can be coercive and fail to acknowledge the workload of the team, which can have a negative effect on performance.

I aim to be able to combine more leadership styles more effectively and have greater self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. To be more aware of your own emotional intelligence is a skill that needs mastered overtime, combining those skills with several leadership styles, and being able to evaluate your capacity and capabilities should result in effective leadership.


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