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Understanding Leadership Styles Essay

1.1 Describe the factors that will influence the choice of leadership styles or behaviours in workplace situations

Introduction

I work as a manager for Innovations which is a day-care facility for individuals with learning disabilities; the majority of the individuals who attend the resource centre I manage can be very challenging and have very complex needs and behaviours at times. It is my job to create intervention plans and work closely with care co-ordinators, other agencies such as safeguarding, Intense homes support services, and the behaviour team to put strategies in place to safeguard service users and staff. It is my job to identify strengths and weaknesses in team members and ensure they get relevant training to help them develop in their role or to give praise and build on skills helping them to gain recognition on their accomplishments and support them to gain promotions should this be their aim.

As a manager I feel I need to be an example to others—either positive or negative. It is necessary for me to adopt characteristics from a variety of leadership styles based on the situation at hand. Regardless of the leadership activity needed, it is important to act with integrity, to set realistic goals, to communicate clearly and often, to encourage others, to recognize the successes of other team members, and to inspire them to provide the best of care. Hopefully my actions will be reflected by my staff in the care they give to our service users each day regardless of which style I practice.

Management by walking about (MBWA)

I use this style of leadership quite often in the workplace as this gives me the opportunity of observing team members interacting with our service users and evaluate the quality of care being delivered. It also lets staff know that I am interested in them and their work and lets them know that I am approachable. I ask about the work they are doing in a way that sounds interested not intrusive and try to discover what motivates them and whether or not staff and residents are satisfied. When I see a success I applaud it and thank them on the spot for doing well.

Autocratic leadership

This style of leadership is essential at times within the organisation I work for due to supporting vulnerable individuals and situations can arise which require fast responses i.e. emergency situations where a service user has had an accident or is putting others at risk by using challenging or aggressive behaviour, it could be that staff have tried every other resource they have and will then call the office for advice, I would then make the ultimate instant decision of what needs to be done.

This style of leadership is only used when necessary as it does not promote trust, communication, or teamwork which is paramount in our service and it can alienate people and stifle flexibility and innovativeness.

Democratic leadership

I choose to use this style of leadership on a daily basis as the opinions of the team are always taken into account when finding effective solutions and protocols to effectively deal with the individuals we support. The team are the most important influence on these individuals as they work closely with them each day and know their behaviours, likes and dislikes and what could potentially trigger an undesirable situation to occur. Team member’s feedback daily to management and share any concerns and pass on all relevant information and ideas to enable others staff and management to deal with similar situations in the future and allow for interventions and protocols to be drawn up and put in place for all team member’s to follow and have a consistent approach. Staff also share ideas, concerns and issues during their monthly supervisions and staff meetings. All decision making is shared with staff and all critique and opinions of each member of the team are taken into account which encourages group participation and allows every team member to feel more important than the actual problems they are encountering in their day to day role.

Laissez-Faire Leadership Style

This style would not work in my organisation as staff need the constant availability and advice from management to feel secure and to support when problems arise, we work with challenging individuals on a daily basis and staff are not always confident when confronted with abuse both verbal and physical and need immediate interventions that only management are able to implement. we are bound by strict codes of practice and guidelines to follow in these situations both by the care standards act and the CQC (care quality commission) also our own organisational policies and procedures which are constantly updated, there is also annual training and courses and the need for constant feedback and communication on a daily basis to provide support to our staff and the best possible care and outcomes for the individuals we support, I liaise with crisis teams and care co-ordinators with the information and reports that I receive from staff to find suitable outcomes for any concerns or issues they have with the people they support making this style of leadership inappropriate for our organisation.

1.2 Explain why these leadership styles or behaviours are likely to have a positive or negative effect on individual and group behaviour.

Autocratic leadership

Factors that would influence me using this style of leadership (positive effect) I would use this style in an emergency situation. When my staff arrived to pick up a particularly complex service user she was extremely agitated and throwing cups and other items at staff in her home, she then turned her attention to my staff verbally abusing them and threatening harm to them. As we were responsible for supporting her at this time one member of staff needed to stay at the service user’s home to support her as it was not deemed safe to continue with her on community based activities while she was showing such aggression. The staff member I was speaking to said she was concerned about staying with the service user as she informed me that she had now attacked her home staff and another service user who lived there and that the police had been called for assistance, I told the staff member that she was to follow her training and keep herself out of danger at all times, I told her to support the house staff as far as she could without putting herself in the line of fire and that the other members of staff needed to bring the other service user on the bus back to the unit and drop her off, they could then return and support.

I told her she needed to record everything and report to me frequently so that I was kept up to date with the situation and make any decisions as deemed necessary to the ongoing situation. I needed to be autocratic as decisions needed to made as a matter of urgency and there was no time for discussion with the staff involved. I would use this style when managing a new or untrained member or members of staff who does not know what tasks to perform or what procedures to follow. Due to staff holidays or sickness, my unit often uses groups of staff from other units who do not have experience and knowledge of the complex service users we support at Brantwood.

This can be extremely difficult for me as a unit manager as I need them to be knowledgeable as I don’t always have enough of my own staff to mentor them on these occasions due to holiday and sickness. it is important that support plans are read and signed and that these staff are aware of all strategies and interventions that we use to overcome behaviours that could occur whilst supporting service users. This is necessary as this will prevent situations escalating. When staff arrive at the unit I brief them on the expectations of the unit and make sure that they are aware of the routine and procedures we follow on a daily basis, staff can quite often be sat reading files but chatting amongst themselves therefore not digesting the information in the files.

I have no hesitation in these circumstances instructing staff to move to a quiet area and sit in different rooms where they are able to read without distraction and will emphasise the importance of having enough knowledge to support the service users to the standard required. The team members skills in this situation are low and they are novices with the service users they are going to support therefore need clear direction which will help them to learn and apply their skills in the correct way.

If a member of staff challenged my position as a manager,

I had a member of staff who was part of a team of three who were supporting a service user who needed 1-1 support and another who needed 2-1 support when in the community. I asked my deputy to request that they return to the unit and drop one member of staff off so they could take another staff member back to another unit, my deputy informed me that the staff member told her that she was not willing to do this as both service users needed an escort, I called the staff member in question and asked her what the problem was and why she was refusing to follow instructions from the deputy manager who was her senior, she told me that in her opinion the instruction she received was wrong and believed that both service users needed an escort each and when they dropped the staff member of at another unit there would only be two staff left on the bus.

I pointed out that they both needed an escort however they would still have an escort on the bus, I told the staff member that she was refusing to fulfil the requirements of her job role by supporting requests from her manager and that as a company we take this very seriously and that this would lead to an investigation. I also asked the member of staff to return to the unit as requested and that another member of staff would take her place, I advised her that she should read the service users files in the meantime and ensure that she understands the contents and the context in what is written, I pointed out that the service users need the full support of three staff when in the community not when travelling on the bus.

I would not use this leadership style with a member of staff (negative effect) Who becomes tense, fearful, or resentful, a member of staff had not checked the contents of a service users medication box when they signed it out from their home despite being prompted by her colleague on the bus with her who later reported this. When the box arrived at the unit and another member of staff signed it out they checked the box and realised that the wrong medication was in the box, the medication was life saving and could of had serious results for the service user had it been needed in an emergency. When the staff member was asked if she had checked the box on the morning, she said she had when she clearly hadn’t. The staff member was visibly upset as she had not followed the correct procedures and then had subsequently lied to her colleague and to management.

This had to be addressed but I knew that she was sensitive and possibly fearful of what action would be taken against her. However I had to address what had happened. I would normally call staff members into the office in this type of situation but when I had gone to the kitchen I found the staff member making a cup of tea and decided to ask her informally how this had happened, she broke down in tears and said she knew it was wrong and it was a person’s life she had put in danger. I told her not to get upset and that I was sure she had learnt a very valuable lesson from this however I stressed the seriousness of the situation but offered her support. I felt that this lessened her anxiety by addressing the situation but in an informal manner and that had she been brought into the office it would of had a demoralising effect and be detrimental on her self confidence cause resentment and mistrust towards her work colleague who had reported the issue.

Democratic leadership

Factors that would influence me using this style of leadership I would use this type of leadership with highly skilled or experienced staff or when implementing new strategies and protocols and resolving individual or group problems. Each morning I speak to staff about ongoing issues with service users as staff rotate on a daily basis working with different service users. Staff who have worked with them previously share experiences, successes and failures when dealing with recent behaviours they have encountered with our service user’s passing on valuable strategies and techniques to their colleagues.

If incidents occur staff complete incident reports which are then passed to our quality assurance manager who carries out reflection work which enables staff to offer suggestions of how things could have gone better, reflect on their practice and share ideas of how to prevent these incidents in the future. I also promote feedback with an open door policy, through staff supervisions and staff meetings where all staff are encouraged to share their experiences and how they have effectively dealt with situations. I then build strategies and interventions from the feedback from the staff that work with service users on a daily basis and incorporate this information into the care plans.

Other factors include:-

Keeping staff informed about matters that affect them.

Enabling staff to share in decision making and problem solving. Providing opportunities for staff to develop a high sense of personal growth and job satisfaction. Dealing with a large or complex problem that requires a lot of input to solve Sharing changes or problems that affect staff.

To encourage team building and participation.
I would be influenced to not use this method when:-
There is not enough time to get everyone’s input
Mistakes are not an option.
Staff and service user safety is a critical concern.
As detailed in my autocratic leadership style above.

Laissez-Faire Leadership Style

I use this style with my senior staff who are very experienced in their role and know our service users very well as they are working front line with them. I allow them to use their initiative and make decisions when they are working with them but at the same time offer guidance and support when requested. This allows the seniors in the unit to take a pride in their work and the drive to do it successfully on their own and reach their goal. For example a new senior felt that the deputy manager was not relinquishing various duties as outlined in the senior job description i.e. allocating staff to service users each day, ensuring they had lists and money and ultimately are organised and on time for activities, this made the new senior feel that she was not trusted to do the job she had been promoted to do and not directly able to participate in decision making and prove her worth, leaving her feeling demoralised and unworthy of the job she had been promoted to do.

I spoke to the deputy and explained how this would ease her own workload and build the confidence of the senior. I do use this style with my deputy manager at times for example when it comes to day to day decisions about the service users we manage as this is one of the principle parts of her job as is managing the staff in day to day activities and ensuring they are working to required standards, however when it comes to speaking to staff about bad practice she finds this very difficult and despite requests from myself to confront certain staff about bad practice or misconduct she is reluctant to do so and feels unsecure without my leadership, I therefore have to deal with such issues myself and at times take an autocratic approach with my deputy.

AC 2.1

Assess own leadership behaviours and potential in the context of a particular leadership model and own organisation’s working practices and culture, using feedback from others

The particular leadership model I have chosen to highlight in 2.1 is the autocratic style although this is the one style I would choose to use less if possible it is the one that causes the most contention, I have reflected briefly on other styles I prefer to use this is one that is necessary at times. In my organisation I work as unit manager in a day care setting for adults with learning disabilities. On a daily basis I have to use my leadership skills in order to manage the work and people in order to fulfil the company’s objectives and vision. In my opinion my leadership style for the most time is a democratic style, however at times my leadership style may have to adapt itself to the given situation. For example if a new employee has joined my team I would probably use a more supportive leadership style to help them learn and adapt.

The company directors set the company culture in our unit. They use a very democratic and supportive leadership style which reflects how we work however at times a more autocratic leadership style is required. For example the company directors frequently monitor and controls individual and team performances, I have to do the same within my team. For example (A member of staff was sat with a group of elderly service users they were sat round a table and the staff member was sat with them, despite there being a planner in place for activities the staff member had not bothered to look at it and was sat with their mobile phone texting. I spoke to the staff member in my office and carried out a supervision so that the conversation would be documented and informed them they were not carrying out there outlined duties as an activities facilitator and not meeting the criteria of their job role. I informed them this was not acceptable and that apart from not interacting with and motivating the service users they were breaking company policies by using their personal mobile phone without prior permission from management I informed the staff member I had no choice but to take it to an investigation meeting which could lead to disciplinary action).

I always ensure that all staff understands my expectations up front so they are under no misunderstandings of what actions will be taken if the service we offer is compromised and staff are not performing to the required standard. I am consistent and fair and apply my expectations to all staff, however I make it clear that I want staff to feel that they are listened to and can bring their opinions to me and that they are heard no matter what the outcome. I believe that as a manager it is important to be a master of not only one but all leadership styles and to know when to use them appropriately. Furthermore I use the following leadership style within my team. Creating and sharing a vision with the team, setting smart objectives, allocating tasks, allocating roles and responsibilities, monitoring performance, observation of individual & team performances, giving constructive feedback and ideas for the development of skills where needed, in supervisions and staff meetings.

The feedback from my team during their supervisions and staff meetings has suggested my leadership style is mostly democratic however there were certain elements of autocratic and supportive styles present. My team referred to the following leadership skills such as resolving conflict, facilitating discussion, motivating, encouraging, being approachable and listening, empowering and facilitating development. However they have also suggested that at times my leadership style is autocratic as I can be assertive, direct and quite blunt when they have not fulfilled the company’s or my expectations and directions and have not complied with company policies and procedures. I also assess my leadership through monthly supervisions and yearly appraisals with my director VA who I am directly responsible to, I take on board her feedback, an example of this is when I needed advice of how to address some concerns relating to a staff member not being able to carry out the work expected of her.

I found this awkward due to the fact that she was once my senior (deputy manager, when I started with the company, and I have since worked to gain a management position over her)Victoria and I discussed the options available to improve the staff member’s practice, and she offered to speak to the member of staff on my behalf, however Victoria felt that I had the relevant leadership skills to resolve this myself she said she would like me to understand my professional worth and be assertive in this situation. She felt that I was feeling a lack of empowerment and needed to all I could to address the balance and that this could only enhance my leadership skills. I addressed the issues with the staff member and told her it was constructive criticism I was offering and would give support to her whenever she felt she needed it.

AC 2.2
Describe appropriate actions to enhance own leadership behaviour in the context of the particular leadership model

Appropriate actions to enhance my own leadership behaviour in the context of the particular leadership model I chose in 2.1. Taking into consideration the chosen leadership style is autocratic there are several ways which I could enhance my leadership behaviour. One way would be to practice self-knowledge and self-awareness, these are both qualities required by any manager. In order to develop these qualities I must act upon constructive feedback I receive from internal or external environment. The feedback I attained from a number of sources including team members, other colleagues and line managers. I need to be observant and take into account my own actions and the impact it has on others. I need to be mindful of my own strengths and weaknesses and know when to ask for assistance and when I am good on my own.

One of my strengths is I am serious about my work and my passions and keep my boundaries firm to maintain the integrity of my goals and the work I put into them, my weakness is I expect the same from others and can be disillusioned when this is not the case. I need to be willing to accept my failures and weaknesses and know that the key to success is not avoiding failure but learning from my mistakes and allowing others to do the same. I need to believe that making a mistake does not mean it is a mistake it gives people the opportunity to improve and grow. I need to enhance my communication skills and be able to clearly and specifically communicate my vision, goals, skills, intentions and expectations to others and strive to improve my verbal, nonverbal and listening skills without interrupting others as it can be too easy to jump in with an objection too quickly.

It might be wise for me to find a role model I can learn from. It would have to be someone I respect highly and whose leadership I admire. If the role model agrees to mentor me, my leadership skills could greatly benefit. I have a great respect for my director VA and aspire to lead how she leads, she is just, fair and supportive and deals with subordinates in a manner that others find hard to challenge. She is very disciplined at work and I need to learn to apply this to my role and every area of my life, I feel this is a character trait that will provide me with the enduring focus necessary for strong leadership.


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